Be a confident person with disability. It’s not impossible.
I once knew a lady who was born with a rare disease. She did not exhibit symptoms of her condition until puberty. By 12, she started to go blind in one eye. There was laser technology that was supposed to clear what they thought were just cataracts. Turns out it wasn’t as simple as what they thought and the cataract laser surgery was abandoned as it could worsen her situation. Eventually the sight on her left eye gave out and her right eye started showing the same symptoms as the now-blind left eye. The doctors ruled that it was caused by a hereditary condition and by the time she was in her mid-20s, she was completely blind in both eyes. By the time she was in her early-30s, her depression caught up with her and she took her own life.
It is not easy to be confident knowing that you are not like everybody else. The hatred and the self-pity can be very hard to fight, but it is not impossible. It is partly our responsibility as persons with disabilities to improve our image, gain the respect of everybody else and exercise our right to live, love and be happy, without fear from the rest of the community.
Feeling sorry for yourself, no matter the situation, will not help. If you are with a disability and you decide to sit in the house and wallow in pity parties all day and night, that is a decision that you will regret, even in the afterlife. Because the choice to live your life to the fullest is one that you can always make. For those born with a disability, self-esteem issues are not as pervasive as those who had the disability later in life, either from a chronic illness or an accident. Disability or not, there is no reason why life cannot be enjoyed.
If you have a disability and after wallowing in self-pity, have decided that you’ve had enough, here are some tips on how to get turn it all around and start the journey to happiness;
1. Stop comparing yourself with others. We all have our struggles and if we keep comparing our achievements with those of others, we will never achieve our full potential. Never measure yourself by yardstick of others. We can’t all be Stephen Hawking or Michael Jordan. Just do your best and you will be your own achievement. Remember, success is not measured by what you achieve, but by what you have overcome.
2. Shake off the defeatist attitude. Be an optimist. Even if it seems impossible at the start, try it anyway. You can’t win the lotto jackpot if you don’t buy a ticket. You can’t marry the girl of your dreams if you don’t try asking her out. You won’t get to your dream destination if you stay home all day long. The journey of a thousand miles will always begin with that first step. Calculate your risks but don’t ever not try anything. Remember, fortune ALWAYS favors the bold.
3. Your life, your rules. Just like in a Facebook wall, your opinion is your own and don’t let anyone tell you any different. As long as you are not doing anything harmful to others or anything illegal, the world is your oyster and do whatever it is you are most passionate about. Success will follow and so will your feeling of self-worth.
4. Surround yourself with people who love and care for you. If, at any time, you see a friend or a relative doing you harm, putting you down or taking advantage of you, you should call it quits or avoid that person. Life is too short to waste your time and talents on people who only want to take what’s yours. Be with people who will not take advantage of you, rather with people who will help you grow and improve.
5. Trust your doctor, but know that he is not God. I know this is confusing. We all want to think that doctors want to heal us. Be wary of doctors who tend to tell you nothing but bad news, the doom-saying kind. The best doctors are those who don’t sugarcoat their diagnosis but remain optimistic and discuss all options with you. If you are not comfortable with your doctor, find a second, third or fourth opinion.
6. Be “Teflon” when it comes to insults and put-downs. You don’t need to take shit from anyone, but getting angry is not the best way to respond to an insult or a put-down. You can have a comeback, or insult them back. Matters not if they get upset, they did it first. You can tell them to their face that you are insulted with their words, but temper your anger so you can reply without being too emotional. You can cry in private but never let them have the satisfaction of seeing you hurt. Be strong because you can be.
7. Enrich yourself by continually connecting with people. You have to give people a chance. Sometimes your first impressions stop you from knowing your future husband, wife or best friend. Connect with everyone and never be insecure with your disability. How you accept yourself is how people will see you. Show them your best you and the respect will follow.
Your overall image of yourself can be improved or damaged partly by your family, life partners and friends. Be with those who will improve you rather than damage you. We may not have control of what people will say, but it is very important that we subscribe to a stable and positive self-portrait. Disability or not, it is crucial that we look after ourselves and we love ourselves well enough to shake off a defeatist attitude and live a full and happy life.