A Guide to Resiliency

An injury changes everything.  Or does it?

A disability does not define your future.  It’s the way one chooses to respond to an injury that determines outcome.  I have discovered perspective is the key to overcoming.

I am an optimist.  Yes, I’m paralyzed from the waist down but every day I make an assertive effort to be grateful.  I have my hands and can still do many things.  I look at my injury and see the elements that it has added to my life; I don’t focus on the things injury took away.  For instance, my injury itself has developed closer relationships.  The complex relationship between my husband and I, which requires him to be my caregiver at times, is a relationship that has a profound meaning to us both.  A deep level of respect for one another that perhaps may not be present if I wasn’t injured.

Along with optimism, I like a dash of resiliency in my everyday life.  The two mixed together can restore balance to the body and the mind after traumatic experiences.  Like any great recipe it takes time and perseverance. 

Developing resilience is a personal journey.  I share my tips in hopes that I can guide you on your personal journey of strength and recovery.

Make Connections.  I have been injured for 36 years.  I still have a vital need to connect with others that have Spinal Cord Injuries.  My personal resilience is strengthen when I relate with others.  Civic groups, faith-based organizations, or local support groups can assist in regaining hope.

Move toward your goals.  Develop some realistic goals.  Healing takes time but can be achieved by making small attainable goals.

Nurture a positive view of yourself. Developing confidence after injury can be a bit tricky.  Nurture positive “self-talk”.  Quickly remove negative thoughts and do not give adverse reasoning any authority in your life.  It took self evaluation for me to realize that negative tendencies robbed me of joy and strength.  Letting go of false perceptions was very liberating and allowed me to grow in a positive direction.

Maintain a hopeful outlook.  An optimistic outlook enables you to expect that good things will happen in your life.  Reframe your thinking and focus on the positive.  This will allow you to look for opportunities for self-discovery.

Emotions shift over time.  As an individual progresses through the rehabilitation process towards a return to their community they may experience a lessening of negative emotions.  When independent living skills are learned, proper resources are put in place, and home modifications are achieved there is a shift towards positive emotions.

Fear is an ever-present concern.  Fear is a prominent emotion.  However, fear is an emotion everyone deals with--injured or not--it’s just part of life.  What is important is to not let fear take over.  Put it in its place and learn how to use fear as an emotion that can propel you to overcoming.

Life is full of changes.  Your journey should be guided by a plan--a strategy-- that you develop and tailor to your needs.  You can gain courage and insight by successfully navigating your way through your challenges with trusted companions.  There will be stretches along your journey that are unwelcomed but forge on.  In the end you will be strengthen by it all.

Leslie

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