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Friday, 11 April 2014

Disabilities Don’t Define You


Facing life with a disability can be a challenge. Uneducated or dismissive people may discount you as a member of society, or you may feel infantilized or marginalized by well-meaning family or friends. However, you do not have to allow your disability to define you. You are a person with a disability, not a disabled person. While you may never be able to change how some people view you, you can change how you view yourself. Here are some positive ideals you should embrace to keep your disability in a healthy perspective.


Focus on Strengths

Albert Einstein once said that a fish will go its entire life thinking it is stupid if you judge it on its ability to climb a tree. This is true of people, as well. You cannot go through life focusing on areas of weakness. Find your strengths and use them to your advantage. If you are living with a visual impairment, you may decide to pursue music. For those with speech issues, writing may be a good fit. Focus on what you can do, not what is difficult.

Overcome Obstacles

Confidence is built by overcoming challenges, so challenge yourself! If you have always wanted to perform on stage, finish a 5k, or travel to a foreign country, find a way to make it happen. You can break your goal down into smaller, easier-to-obtain goals to boost your confidence. Once you meet some of your goals, no matter how small, you will be able to overcome larger and larger obstacles as your confidence and belief in yourself soars.



- Photo taken from Flickr

Demand Independence

For some people with disabilities, receiving help from a caregiver or family member is essential. However, this does not mean you should allow yourself to be treated like a child. You can and should gently demand that your boundaries be respected if anyone attempts to provide help you don't want or need. This will help you feel independent and empowered, despite your disability. For example, if you are hearing impaired, there is no reason for well-meaning family and friends to take notes for you at a college lecture. You can rely on hearing aids, sign language, your professor's outline or speech-to-text software to handle your studies independently. If you are in a wheelchair and still want to drive, get a wheelchair van. There are many ways you can keep your independence.

Find Your Inspiration

Inspiration can come from many different sources, such as religion or celebrities. Many famous people have overcome disabilities to achieve their goals and make their dreams come true. For example, over a dozen previous presidents of the United States have had disabilities, including hearing impairments, learning disabilities, epilepsy and post-polio syndrome. None of these men let their challenges get in their way. If you are looking for a motivational quote to tape to your mirror, the following by deafblind author and activist Helen Keller is quite apt: "Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."

Love Yourself

It is often said that you cannot love someone else until you love yourself. However, some people with disabilities may have trouble finding worth and value inside themselves. The media loves to portray anyone who is less than 'perfect' as the butt of jokes and unloveable. In reality, everyone is worthy of love. Make a list of your best qualities and read it every day. Cultivate your relationship with yourself and show yourself love by affirming your own worth and value every day.

Living with a disability cannot stop you from overcoming obstacles, being independent and achieving your goals. You are not your disability, and there is no reason to allow it to define you as a person. Changing your outlook on life with a disability is imperative to setting aside bitterness and forging forward with a renewed sense of purpose and accomplishment.


Written by Paisley Hansen


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