My previous post was about the importance of not obsessing over the wrong areas of life. This week, I want to unpack how this concept affects my life and the role my disability plays.
I grew up framing my disability as simply an inconvenience, not an anchor holding me down. All my friends needed help from their parents as well and, strange as it sounds, I did not feel too different from my peers. I was kindly included in many childhood activities and even got invites to plenty of parties. Life was pretty good, actually.
Back at the family home, no one thought my disability got in the way of family life. We just factored in a few extra steps when preparing for activities or before going on outings. This adaptive mindset was ingrained in me from the start, and it still animates my life today.
However, I’d be lying if I said it was all roses and rainbows. During my early twenties, I started to OBSESS over everything my disability denied to me. For instance, my peers were moving out of their homes, traveling and exploring in ways I could not (or so I thought at the time). This bothered me immensely and instead of adapting to my disability, like I was taught, I blamed every little thing on it.
I remember one of my biggest mental blocks was refusing to ask anybody but my parents to help me in the restroom. I theoretically knew that plenty of people with disabilities needed help in the restroom and they found the help. But for some reason, I didn’t think this kind of help was meant for me.
The breakthrough revelation was when I realized I shouldn’t be obsessing on what I could not do, but on how to get it done. I had to re-learn my childhood lesson of being adaptable and ignoring the distracting allure of being perfect.
But it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. I still bounce between focusing like a laser on my goals and being distracted by thoughts of what my disability took from me. This oscillation will always stalk me because I feel my disability every time I open my mouth or do anything physical. Each of my actions requires a thousand times more effort than the average person. Even asking for help can be emotionally exhausting.
And yet, I have an amazing life. I have learned to calmly ignore the darker thoughts and focus instead on raising my wonderful kids, nurturing my beautiful marriage, supporting my excellent friendships, building my important work and living my amazing life.
It is impossible to permanently ignore our limitations, challenges or whatever else is holding us back. But it is critical to balance those energy-sapping limitations with a new focus on creating energy-enhancing life experiences.