Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Recently, I watched a TV segment of Dr. Oz about a young man who was born with almost no limbs—one foot, three stumps of various lengths. The audience stood to honor a person who is an active farmer, who doesn’t bother with becoming bionic because he can do nearly anything he wants to do when he does it his own way. His father raised him as a strong, independent son—not as someone “disabled.” His broad smile and can-do attitude filled people with awe.
One of his comments was painfully true: everyone has some obstacles to overcome in life. He said he was lucky because the people in his environment had all been supportive. He avoids negativity. He’s determined to claim the sweetness of life. Behold the power of self-confidence and self-love.
We’re impressed by people we see who have physical differences that we consider to be devastating. Yet we’re still embarrassed when we’re confronted by just such a person on the street. We look away, repelled by the obvious oddity. We spend a lot of time being distracted by physical differences—missing body parts, extreme sizes, disfigurements, cultures, skin colors or clothes we don’t have. Most of the so-called different people would tell you they’re still just people. What if this “difference” happened to you? Who would you be?
Say you met a man who was blind—not a blind man. Put the personhood first. The same goes for difficulties we cannot see—mental illness, chronic diseases, PTSD, etc. Put the person first. Support begins with recognizing the worth of each human being, regardless of how easy that person is to look at or deal with. If you believe in protecting babies, can you extend your love to the grown-ups they become? Pretend each person is a friend and offer to help, but if your offer is rejected, accept that. Your friends don’t always want to be helped, either, and you may not understand how to help. Remember, too, people with differences aren’t always nice people. Challenges are equal-opportunity, and no one is nice all the time.
Support is important for everyone. Find those around you who are willing to support you through your challenges and be willing to return the favor. Sympathy—whether it’s for someone else or yourself—is a narcotic. A little goes a long way. You can poison yourself or those you love with pity. Mentally place yourself in the other person’s place (empathy) and start working on a way up to a more positive plane. What can you do to encourage new independence? Ask the other person (or yourself) these questions: If you aren’t happy with life as you know it, what do you want, instead? What do you have to do to change your situation? Get busy doing it.
Constantly complaining about the same gripes is a sign of someone who’s afraid of change. If you don’t want to change, don’t—but stop complaining. Like the man with no limbs, how you define yourself is up to you. Never let other people define you. Be the person you dream yourself to be.