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Change The Way You Look At Things And The Things You Look At Change

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
100 Awesomes 100 Likes 100 Comments First Anniversary
How many of you out there have had huge perspective shifts that have changed or altered the course of your reality?

I am not speaking about the perspective change that comes after sustaining a spinal cord injury. We all know how much that changes you deeply, and assigns you a new outlook on life. You see things totally different than post injury. Whether it happens immediately, or years post injury, Im sure most of us dealign with SCI can relate to the fact that perspective change or shift is everything.

What I write about now is a perspective shift that comes on how you view your life POST spinal cord injury, and the things that happen around you after the day your life changed forever. Have any of you had any radical epiphanies that have helped you move forward, or onward with your life in a more meaningful way?

We struggle as leaders in this community sometimes with others who are "stuck" in their mentalities, and use their external circumstances as a reason not to shift their perspective. For us, we believe that the way you look at things changes the way things appear.. based on everyone's different view of the world. We believe you have a choice of how you handle things in your life - you can see them as burdens, or you can see them as learning experiences to help you in life. This is OUR experience and perspective, and its our job as moderators to respect everyone else's process and opinion - while helping to guide them if they need advice. 

People struggle sometimes for years or lifetimes thinking the same thoughts, doing the same things, and not taking any accountability for their situations. This is up to each individual, and each person's process is unique to them and their choice. 

I guess what we are asking is - is there an example of a thought process or situation that you changed JUST by consciously choosing to change your perspective on things?

This is a loaded question but definitely worth talking about. 

- Brooke 
Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)

Comments

  • ZcollieZcollie Moderator Posts: 239 Moderator
    100 Likes 100 Comments 25 Awesomes First Anniversary
    I love this question. I really had to think about it before I answered. It took me a while to consciously do this, but now I view my disability as a positive rather than something that negatively changed the course of my life. It does suck at times and it is hard living a life confined to a wheelchair. My injury did alter the course of my life, but I have accomplished and done so many amazing things BECAUSE of my accident. I have a lot of great things in my life right now I would not have had my accident never happened. I know for some people it will take a long time to get to this point and some never will. I believe because of our SCI we are unique. We stand out, we affect people more than the average person, and leave an impact on others whether it is negative or positive. People always tell me how positive and inspiring I am despite everything I have been through. It is nice to hear all of those things, but I am just being who I really am. When dealing with a SCI it is so much easier to look at everything it took away. It is a lot harder to look at what we still have and can do. Plus I feel like their are more negatives than positives, but the positives always outweigh the bad in my experience. We have been given a change to leave a stronger impact on the world because of our chair and that is what I believe and focus on. Not sure if this answered your question haha. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • CruckerCrucker Moderator Posts: 73 Moderator
    25 Likes 10 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited May 19
    One of the hardest tasks after becoming paralyzed, to me, is not define to yourself by your injury. That also means not to define yourself to others by your injury. Here is a blog I recently wrote that deals with this issue, especially when you are meeting a non-disabled person for the first time. It's called "Authenticity."

    Many of the emotional cues that a person with a disability receives when encountering the outside world are both subtle and largely subconscious. Non-disabled people, especially at a first encounter, might think of you as sick or weak or even threatening. Usually this kind of mental assessment is hidden behind a smile or even an offer to help, though you hadn’t asked for any help. There could also be a wariness of saying or doing the “wrong” thing for fear of embarrassment. Even though one out of every four American adults are disabled, at times I still feel like an alien creature to many in day to day social interaction. And when internalizing this alien sentiment, that complicates the back and forth even more. Woman in wheelchair and man together on bridge

    The Media Access Awards, with the help of Easterseals and the Writers Guild of America, published a booklet a while back called “Employing Writers with Disabilities,” a best-practices guild directed at producers and other show-makers who might feel nervous or unprepared in hiring anyone with a disability. One of the key questions that arose was how to conduct a first interview for a disabled job applicant or a writer pitching an original idea. This is an area where both parties might feel unsure or self-conscious about what to do or say.

    The manual’s advice, for both the job giver and the job applicant, is “Don’t open the conversation talking about the disability.” Unless it is the very subject being discussed, a person’s disability is irrelevant to assessing the applicant or his or her talents. It is like asking the interviewee, “So, how long have you been bald as a billiard ball?” Both are beside the point.

    I am more concerned about the disabled party in this exchange than the guy or gal behind the big desk. We all want to be upfront, of course, and not try to hide or disguise our disability. We want to be, in a word, authentic. Unfortunately, as I understood after reading a fine article on the subject in a recent New York Times, being “authentic” can sometimes get you in trouble. Written by psychologist Adam Grant, the piece argues against focusing on perceived vulnerabilities at the wrong time. It’s a bit like a boxer telling his opponent, “I have a week chin but don’t think about that, okay?” You may not think of your disability as a vulnerability but others very well might, especially if they as yet know nothing more about you.

    Back to the writing interview. If you are a well-known writer with a lot of credits to your name, your disability, either spoken or unspoken about, isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. But if you are a neophyte looking for a first job, the focus should be on your applicable skills or ideas or simply your presentation of self.

    The actor Darrell “Chill” Mitchell, a star of the network series, “NCIS: New Orleans,” is both black and a wheelchair user, a double whammy in the still white-abled-body-male world of show business. Before he became famous, when he walked into an audition or pitch meeting, he says, he had about ten seconds to make the right impression. That impression was based on who he was, not his skin color or disability. Setting the right tone might be a spontaneous quip to get the room laughing. Or it might mean being so thoroughly prepared for auditioning a part that his acting became the focus, not the wheelchair. He played to his strengths, not his perceived limitations. There was plenty of time to talk about being black or disabled after he had proven himself up for the gig.

    The other reason, Grant explains, for not opening a conversation with your disability story is that it might come across as self-serving or self-absorbed. The first class I ever taught as an adjunct instructor at the USC Cinema School was also one of my first public appearances in a wheelchair. Thinking it would “clear the air,” I started with a lengthy explanation of my paralysis. The fifty kids stared back at me, either politely listening or faking the same. Finally, one hand went up, I eagerly invited him to speak, and his question was, “Will there be a midterm exam in this class?” Immediately I realized that he nor his classmates cared a hoot about my problems – they cared about their problems and rightly so. Wheelchair or not, I was there to teach them and I should get on with it. Nix the self-serving life story.

    The less you lodge your disability in the front of your frontal lobe, ready to talk about it at the drop of a hat, the better. If it’s not your first concern, it is rarely anyone else’s, no matter what fleeting fears or prejudices they might harbor. You can ice those fears and concerns by showing the person you are – funny, smart, engaging, spontaneous, authentic – the person who just happens to be disabled, in the same way I just happen to be as bald as a billiard ball.



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