Having a Purpose and Meaning in Life after an SCI

ZcollieZcollie ModeratorPosts: 186Moderator Moderator
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It is human nature to want to live a live with purpose and meaning. For some people going through a Spinal Cord Injury it may take those feeling away. For those of you living with an SCI do you still feel like you have meaning or a purpose in your life? This is a question I have asked myself many times.

As crazy as it sounds, I honestly feel like my SCI gave me a greater purpose in life. It changed the way I thought about everything. My injury changed me as a person for the better and I believe my purpose in life is to help others. Spread awareness and educate the uneducated about spinal cord injuries. Having a meaning in life has helped me to continue persevering and moving forward in my life living with a SCI. I have accomplished more in my life right now than I would have in my entires previous life. I went to college and graduated with a bachelors, accepted into grad school, faced my biggest fear and spoke in front of strangers sharing my story, started my own YouTube Channel, and so much more. My disability is the reason I am going into counseling so I can help the lives of others. I want to inspire and motivate people. I want to show others that no matter the obstacles life throws at us, we can overcome them and live a fulfilling life. Thinking about the path I am on now and making a difference in people's lives puts a smile on my face. The feeling I get inside of my body is conformation to me that I am on the right path. I believe this is where I am supposed to be. I used to view my accident as a negative and focus on all the things it took away from me. Now I look back and see all of the amazing opportunities that have come about because of this injury. What gives you meaning and purpose in your life?

I am wondering if anyone else has the same beliefs or experience as I do. Would love to hear others perspectives, even if you disagree.  


Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI

Comments

  • SterlionSterlion Moderator Posts: 77Moderator Moderator
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    I do think that having an SCI gives an opportunity to really show others what life is truly about. The hardest times for me happen when I focus on what I am not able to do or should be able to do. Life is fun when I know I am having a positive impact on someone. I guess you could say the more selfless I am the easier life gets. Although, it can be very difficult to keep that mindset. Its human nature to want to do things our way. But things @Zcollie is doing also helped me have purpose. Staying busy, trying new things and conquering fears!
  • cruiseybabbbycruiseybabbby Moderator Posts: 18Moderator Moderator
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    So I've been injured for just over a decade now and for the first few years I struggled with what I was going to do with my life… Having my injury at the age of 19, I clearly still had a lot of "growing up" to do and I think my acceptance and understanding of my true purpose came with this "growing up" process in my life.

    Being a quadriplegic and enduring what we have in life has implored people to actually listen to us and in turn, think deeply about their own lives which gives us this incredible opportunity to utilize this platform we’ve been given and capitalize by creating and putting out as much positive content and vibes as possible that might just be able to change peoples lives and leave the world a better place!

    Pre injury I was living for myself. Post injury I live for others!

  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 186Moderator Moderator
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    @Sterlion I agree, in the beginning it was really hard for me to not focus on everything I lost. I was a very active and independent person growing up. I have noticed like you said, it is a lot easier when you keep yourself busy. It makes it worthwhile for me when I see the positive impact I have on someone. Yes! trying new things and conquering fears is huge! One of the biggest things for me was stepping out of my bubble, which I was comfortable in and trying things that I was uncomfortable with. 
    @cruiseybabbby Same with me man. I was only 15 and had so much growing to do. For me, my injury matured me in ways I never would have if my accident never happened. You are totally right in that with everything that we have been through, people do want to hear what we have to say and we have an amazing opportunity to make ourselves heard. Really well said about living your life for yourself and now living it for others. Love it! 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 301Moderator Moderator
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    @Zcollie
    Brooke here - I love this post. Your positive attitude is such a gift and I relate to everything that you are saying. If my husband hadn't been injured there are so many things that would not have happened in our lives.. as hard as it is to say this, it has been a blessing for me. Yes its hard for him (for both of us), and he's not quite at the place that I am at yet with accepting his new role in life, but I truly believe things happen exactly how they're supposed to as an opportunity to grow and heal. There have been things presented to us in life since his injury that are truly miraculous- and we have learned so much about one another. If you can get to a place where you can view the injury this way - and truly see the positives that can happen- you can conquer all the set backs that happen along the way. - Brooke (WAGS of SCI)
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 186Moderator Moderator
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    @WAGSofSCI Hi Brooke(: Thank you! I totally agree with you saying, if you can get to a place where you can view this injury as something to learn and grow from, you can conquer any of the challenges life throws at you. In my opinion, having a positive mindset when dealing with this type of injury is HUGE. I think the way a person thinks will effect how they feel about certain things. It is definitely not easy, but when I think about it all the positive experiences after my SCI have outweighed the negatives! Thanks for sharing! 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • CruckerCrucker Moderator Posts: 60Moderator Moderator
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    To all:
    Everyone on this chain seems to have learned the important lessons intuitively, but if you want to delve a little more into the supremacy of meaning over happiness or success, try grabbing a copy of "Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor Frankl, famous psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. The man is full of pithy insights that seem tailor-made for someone dealing with paralysis.  Such as:

    "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves..."
    Or
    "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

    It appears you have all chosen your own way.






  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 186Moderator Moderator
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    @Crucker I have read that book twice and I could read it again. It is such a great book and it helped me to open my eyes and change my perspective on certain things. Love the quotes too. We always have a “choice” and if we cant change the cards we have been dealt we can choose how we play our hand. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • CruckerCrucker Moderator Posts: 60Moderator Moderator
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    Zcollie, I have a longer followup to your last comment, but I am overworked at the moment so give me a day or two. Herr Frankl provides much food for thought.
  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 186Moderator Moderator
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    @Crucker Ok no problem! Looking forward to it!(:
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • CruckerCrucker Moderator Posts: 60Moderator Moderator
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    Did you ever wonder why Viktor Frankl was the of the select Holocaust survivors to endure that hellish experience and come out of it with a positive, life-affirming attitude? He had the right conceptual framework, for sure, but he had something else -- resilience. Why did he keep going and many others around him literally die of despair? I used to think that resilience was part of your gene pool, like brown eyes or weak knees, but a very bright fellow named Adam Grant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Grant) convinced me otherwise. Resilience is a bit like a muscle; you don't have a strong one until you exercise it. The best form of exercise: failure. Every time you fail and then get up and moving again, you are building resilience. You must have some scar tissue to become resilient.

    I've also learned that resilience is something that can get both stronger and weaker over time. Personally, I felt I was much more resilient in the years after my injury than I am now. I'd embrace challenges and at that point in my life, I had a bundle. The trouble is, when I transcended what I considered major hurdles in my life, I hesitated to take on the next batch. I think I need a heavy dose of failure to get me back to full speed.

    "Beating" paralysis, I realize, was not the end of my resilience test, but just the beginning. There is no end. It's a cyclical process.

    That's all of my brain droppings for today.

  • BrittanyFrankBrittanyFrank Moderator Posts: 46Moderator Moderator
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    • AMEN to all the talk about Viktor & resilience. I've been studying, speaking and thinking a lot about resilience lately. And I think the best way to build resilience is by doing hard things. And adjusting to SCI and life in a wheelchair is pretty dang hard and not only has it continued to build resilience, but I had a strong base before I was injured. As a college athlete I was used to doing hard things like mile repeats and track workout that pushed my body physically & mentally. It prepared me to be physically and mentally strong to face paralysis head on. So regardless of how much resilience you had before we all have the opportunity to build our resilience through living with paralysis. 
  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 186Moderator Moderator
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    @Crucker Thank you for the wise words. My SCI has taught me so much resilience. Really enjoyed your read. I am going to check out Adam Grant. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • CruckerCrucker Moderator Posts: 60Moderator Moderator
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    @BrittanyFrank ; It would be ideal if everyone, before contracting paralysis, could be as physically disciplined and prepared as you were. I was never an athlete per se, but I ran enough 10K's before paralysis to know that you can will yourself to do things you never thought possible.
    @Zcollie Most people, thinking of the awful possibility of paralysis, assume they couldn't handle it. They'd fall to pieces. Some do, of course, but the majority don't. They have more grit than they ever thought. And grit propagates grit, or so it seems.
  • ambercollieambercollie Moderator Posts: 71Moderator Moderator
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    Wow!!! I Love this Feed.
    Thank You everyone for your advice, input and encouragement.
  • kkarisuma27kkarisuma27 Posts: 13Member
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    @Zcollie Hello I used to think of my disability as something negative too. Once I complained to my  best friend why. I cannot do the same thing my sister does. Then he made me realize that I have the opportinity to learn new languages and be friends with a lot people that like the same music I like . learn about cultures and traditions . You can do things that you sister doesn't. Now looking back what my best friend told me he was right. I think joining the Christopher & Dana Reeve foundation was the best place to be more open about my own disability . 
  • ambercollieambercollie Moderator Posts: 71Moderator Moderator
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    @kkarisuma27 glad you post, and I agree, hearing other people share there thoughts, questions, ideas about there injury really does help both parties. It's nice to know there is a safe place to ask those questions and be able to express yourself. No one is alone on this paralyzed journey. I am grateful to have the Reeve Connect site, the people in "paralyzed world" are AmaZing!
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