“We Do Not Have to Do Things Perfectly”
To watch and listen to a video presentation of this article, click on this link: Living with a Brain Injury and an Invisible Disability — How are You Defining Success? Video Presentation
To view an outline of the keynote presentation, click on this link: Living with a Brain Injury and an Invisible Disability — How are You Defining Success? Keynote Presentation
Introduction to the Article
As individual’s living with brain injuries, we can be led to believe that our lives no longer matter. That being successful is out of our reach.
This thinking and belief can be reinforced by many sources in society as we live. Live our lives with the impact of a brain injury and an invisible disability.
Sources that May Minimize, Marginalize, Dismiss and Discount our Capacity to Contribute and Thrive in Society
Professionals that we interact with as individuals living with brain injuries. Family members and friends, as well as other individuals living with brain injuries. Individuals who feel stuck by their brain injuries, deficits and limitations.
As a result, we may be led to believe, “What’s the Point?”, and give up on our dreams.
Defining Success for Ourselves after a Brain Injury
In my experience I have found that there are several traps that can leave you and me feeling like we are failures.
We can be led to believe that because of our brain injuries that we are failures.
Consequently, we may find ourselves focusing on what we cannot change (what happened to us), As a result, we may find ourselves feeling trapped by the notion that we are now helpless and hopeless because of a “box” of limiting expectations.
Unknowingly and Unconsciously
In response, we may find ourselves buying into the notion that we are victims of our circumstances.
That we are subservient to a limiting societal system that communicates to us that we are unable to make empowering choices.
Empowering choices that will give us the ability to move out of and beyond the box of a label, a stereotype and a stigmatization.
That we are unable to express our gifts, talents and abilities to create and enhance our lives as individuals living with brain injuries.
That we are limited in our ability to contribute to the lives of individuals within and without the brain injury community.
How are We Defining Success as Individuals living with Brain Injuries?
Another trap that we may find ourselves falling into is believing that we are failures because our lives are not marked by what other people have acquired. That we are failures because our station in life, be it disabled by societies standards. And that being disabled does not give us the means to be able to acquire or possess what society considers to be measures of success.
In response, we may have people in our lives who, subsequently; patronize who we are as individuals by their attitudes. We may consequently feel minimized, marginalized, dismissed and discounted as individuals. We may subsequently find ourselves buying into the notion that our lives are of little significance and value without the ability to acquire societal measures of success.
In the process, we may find ourselves accepting what society has set for us. Set for us to control and contain who we are as individuals. Individuals living with the impact of a brain injury through a label, stereotype and a stigmatization.
Set for us up to meet and fulfill their agendas. In the process, we may find ourselves going along to get along, not realizing that there are other choices. Choices that we can make to empower and enhance our creative capacity to enrich our lives.
But there is Good News. We Can Set a Different Course. We Can Make Self-Directed Choices
Therefore we no longer have to stay stuck. We no longer have to buy into societies measure of success. Instead, we can define success for ourselves.
The good news is that through being aware of these notions, as individuals living with brain injuries; we can make choices. We don’t have to buy into the impact of labels, stereotypes, and stigmatization. Instead, we can make the choice to express our unique creative capabilities and capacity.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein
The good news is that we no longer need to focus on what we can not accomplish. Instead, we can be aware of our limitations and deficits and stop fighting against ourselves. We can use our energy to discover what we have and what we can do in ways that will work for us.
The good news is that we can stop trading our judgment for the judgment of other people.
What I have found through my process and journey, living with a brain injury and invisible disability is that I AM NOT my brain injury, nor my invisible disability. I AM NOT my deficits or limitations.
I AM WHO I AM and I AM ENOUGH
In my experience, through realizing that I was not brain injury or my invisible disability, I discovered that I am so much more than my brain injury. I am more than capable of creating. Creating with the gifts, talents and abilities given to me (by a loving God) through my mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions.
I AM MUCH MORE THAN MY BRAIN INJURY AND MY INVISIBLE DISABILITY
I can develop my mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions to create with my gifts, talents and abilities.
Mind — Gather information that will give me the ability to make empowering choices and decisions.
Body – Develop my ability to express myself physically to pursue my dreams and goals to empower my life.
Spirit – Develop my sensitivity to communicate with the God of my understanding and with myself.
Soul – Develop my awareness of the patterns in my relationship as I interact with the world around me
Emotions – How I interpret (respond rather than react) to what occurs in my life and relationships.
A BIG REALIZATION THAT CHANGED MY LIFE AND RELATIONSHIPS
With this realization I discovered something that changed the quality of my life, well-being and relationships. I could define success for myself through my mind, body, soul, spirit and emotions in ways that would work.
Through my awareness, I realized that I no longer had to buy into a faulty belief. I realized that I no longer needed to be defined by my brain injury, invisible disability or by focusing on my deficits or limitations.
A Poem that Helps me Come to Terms with What I can Not Change
The Power of Choice
There Is a Hole in My Sidewalk
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep whole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately,
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
Walking Down a Different Street
The poem illustrates my journey through the grieving process. I had to confront my denial (Chapter One). Experience and come to terms with my Anger (Chapter Two). Try to bargain my way out of what could not be changed (Chapter Three). Find myself depressed by recognizing what could not be changed (Chapter Four). By accepting what could not be changed I make different choices. (Chapter Five).
Realizing that I Could Make Empowering Choices
The good news is that we can choose to walk down a different street and try some thing new. Some thing that is unique to our gifts, talents and abilities. In the process, we can begin to define what success means and looks like to us.
12 WAYS TO ENHANCE OUR LIFE, OUR WELL-BEING AND OUR RELATIONSHIPS
1- Admitted that we are powerless over the impact and effects of our brain injury and invisible disability. That our lives have forever changed because of our brain injury. Although we are powerless over the impact of our brain injury and our invisible disability, we are not helpless. As a result, we no longer need to feel like a victim or that we are helpless because of our brain injury or our invisible disability.
2- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could help us to accept what we are powerless to change (the impact of our brain injury and our invisible disability). Consequently, we can rely on the power that many of us have found to be God. We can rely on a loving God to help us to stop sabotaging and undermining our lives, well-beings and relationships by trying not to be impacted by a brain injury. We can rely on a loving God to help us to accept ourselves and to create a good life for ourselves.
3-With the awareness that we need this power in our lives, we can make a decision to ask Him to lead and guide our process and journey. We no longer have to figure things out on our own. Instead, we can ask Him to help us own our power. Own our power as an individual living with a brain injury and an invisible disability. Own our power through what we can do, not what we can’t do. Own our power (what is in our power to control) in our mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions in ways that work for us, a little at a time and one day at a time.
4- With the help of a loving God, we can begin to examine areas of our lives that no longer work for us. That undermine and sabotage our lives, our well-beings and our relationships. With the help of a loving God, we can look for patterns. Patterns such as defense mechanisms in which we defend, answer and explain what we can’t do. Patterns that keep you and I feeling like a victim of our brain injury, an invisible disability and our circumstances.
5- We no longer have to remain isolated because of what we are no longer able to accomplish with our lives. By admitting to ourselves, a loving God and another person what we are unable to accomplish, we can come out of the shadows of isolation and break free from feelings of alienation. Alienation from ourselves, a loving God and other people because of what we cannot accomplish. In the process, we can learn how to trust, again. Trust a loving God, ourselves and other people.
6- Through being sick and tired of being sick and tired of getting the same results, we become willing to try something different. Try something different to get different results. Through being willing, we can ask a loving God to help us to stop doing things that no longer work. In the process, we become entirely ready to let go of what no longer works for us.
7- Through being ready to let go of what no longer works for us, we can be actively involved in the process of discovering how to use our gifts, talents and abilities in ways that will work for us. We can humbly ask a loving God to help us in this process of this self-discovery. In the process of letting go and discovering what works for us we can have peace in our lives and relationships.
8- Through letting go of what no longer works we can pursue what works for us. We can stop being a prisoner to our deficits and imitations. As a result, we can stop fighting with and against ourselves by trying to prove that we do not have those deficits and limitations. We can become the individual that we decide to be in our lives.
9- We can let go of the life that we had planned to create the life that works for us. In the process, we can learn how to own the power in our mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions. We can create our new normal in ways that work for us through our mind, body, soul, spirit and emotions.
10 – We don’t have to figure out everything will fit together as we seek to own the power in our mind, body, spirit, soul and emotions. Instead, we can ask a loving God to guide and direct our steps each day. In the process, we can trust that the dots will connect forward.
11- We can let go of the outcomes by trusting the process, a loving God and ourselves. We can learn to trust through doing the footwork and letting go of the outcomes. We can let go of the outcomes one day at a time. We can trust that more will be revealed with time.
12- As we grow in the understanding of ourselves (with the help of a loving God) we continue to use our gifts, talents and abilities. Use our gifts, talents and abilities in ways that work for us. In the process, we learn from our circumstances, our experiences, our lessons and opportunities. In the process, we actively participate in our lives, well-beings and the creation of our destinies.
Quotes that Inspire
“I was told over and over again that I would never be successful, that I was not going to be competitive and the technique was simply not going to work. All I could do is shrug my shoulders and say, ‘we’ll just have to see.” Dick Fosbury (Olympic Gold Medalist. Inventor of the “Fosbury Flop” High Jump Technique)
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” Helen Keller
“Regardless of your lot in life, you can build some thing beautiful on it.” Zig Ziglar
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” Mother Teresa
“It is not as important what happened to us, but how we respond to what happened to us.” Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA
“Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.” Theodore Roosevelt
“Don’t quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can’t see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It’s the one that makes the sweetest sound.” Simon Sineck
“Believe in yourself, go after your dreams and don’t let anyone put you in a box.” Daya
“Not everyone will understand your journey. That’s okay. You’re here to live your life, not to make everyone understand.” Banksy
“It is not that I am so smart. It is just that I stay with problems longer.” Albert Einstein
“Insist on yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent you only have an extemporaneous half-possession…Do that which is assigned to you and you cannot hope too much or dare too much.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along which comes the inner voice, which says, “This is the real me” and when you have found that attitude, follow it”. James Truslow Adams
“If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…You will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” Henry David Thoreau
My 12 other Presentations
Finding Purpose after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Acceptance and Creating a New Normal after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Neuroplasticity, Setting Goals and Creating Hope After Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Believing in Ourselves through Self-Advocacy — A Guide to Owning Our Power after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
12 Ways to Enhance Our Lives, Well-Beings and Relationships after a Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Making Our Lives Magical One Day at a Time after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Cultivating Healthy Relationships after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Living with a Brain Injury, an Invisible Disability and Change after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Instead, We can Create our Own Genius after Brain Injury and Stroke Presentation
Grieving the Guilt and Shame of a Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke Zoom Presentation
Brain Injury Why Do I Feel so Misunderstood and Shunned Presentation
Living with a Brain Injury — I Can Not Do Everything, But Still I Can Do Something Keynote Presentation
To schedule one of more of these presentations, click on this link:
Public Speaking; Book Craig J. Phillips MRC, BA — Second Chance to Live
To access resources to empower success, click on this link;
Second Chance to Live – Empowering the Individual, not the Brain Injury Resources
To read more about my process and journey click on this link.
Second Chance to Live Author’s Autobiography in Bullet Points
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