The flip side, as I alluded to previously, is intentional determination. What is intentional determination? You may know it as drive, self-discipline, or tough love. And it comes from sources both in- and external.
the balance, part 2
A lot of times in the rehabilitative journey, you will hit roadblocks and what seems like endless frustration. It is very easy to get down on yourself. After all, you didn’t wish this upon yourself, and all you’re trying to do is to get back to what you think is normal.
Unfortunately, this is your present state, and for now, this is your new normal. You have to accept it, but by “accept” it doesn’t mean you should be happy with it. Accept that this is your current reality, and that the only way to get better is to keep trying. Aiming high isn’t wrong; having the drive to push yourself is a gift.
But being too hard on yourself does no good either. Your healing is in your hands alone. Others can help encourage you or be there for you, but they can’t wave the magic wand and make your injury go away. Instead of being nasty and severe with yourself, acknowledge that this struggle is necessary to your healing.
If you just woke up abruptly tomorrow completely back to how you used to be as though it never happened, would you still be able to appreciate this experience for what it is? Hardships happen to build up our strength. In overcoming them are we able to look back at ourselves in admiration and know we’ve truly achieved something momentous.
I know I’m a far better person now than I used to be. This isn’t to say I was a bad person to begin with, but I’ve changed very much so in this journey and am sure you have too. This opportunity for future growth is tremendous, and very special and unique. Be kind to yourself.
Now, the people closest to you will also be the ones to push you the hardest. No one but they will tell you to your face that you need to do more than what you’re already doing.
Remind yourself that this type of behavior comes from their love for you. It hurts them to see you struggle, and they only want you to get better. So they nag you. They force you to step up and be more than you might feel ready to be right now.
The only version of this that I have no tolerance for is the variation that goes, “If I were you, I’d be in the gym 24/7 making myself do exercises all day, every day until I was cured.”
I cannot reiterate any more that if you haven’t lived it, you really can’t say what you’d do. There are people who push themselves to the limits of exhaustion, yes, but there are also those who give up and get worse. There are also those like me who push themselves to realistic limits without ruining their quality of life.
Yes, consistent therapy is key. Yes, healing is what’s most important, especially for your self-esteem and -image. But to declare a 24/7 gym-inhabitation is an exaggeration beyond hyperbole. A person cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, think only of exercise. Especially if there are other parts of his life, like family, school, recreation, work. Not important in the face of healing? Perhaps not when you’re unable to take a shower on your own, but once you are independent enough to dress, eat, and walk, all on your own, the other parts of your life become present again. To be human is to lead a multifaceted life. To deny that is to claim a lie.
So anyway, I am by no means saying that a strong dedication to your exercises is wrong, or that reminding your loved one to do them is. No — do them! Do them until you are mentally exhausted. Do them, but don’t feel guilty about also having a life. Healing should feel good, not make you feel anxious or resentful to others around you.
Remember, disabled or not, you are still a human being with human needs. Your body absolutely wants to heal, but then again, so does your mind. And human minds need social interaction, things to do, fun, intellectual stimulation.
Today I was doing my cardio workout on an elliptical with a built-in TV. Because it was around noon, there was nothing interesting on television, and I had forgotten my iPod, I tuned in to an infomercial channel focusing on fitness. There were so many ads for DVD programs for intense workout regimens that promised phenomenal results within sixty to ninety days. The enthusiastic performance of all the spokespeople in these ads really got my energy up and ended up inspiring me to push myself harder. One of the testimonies was a girl who was self-declared as previously totally lazy, but now trim and fit. She pointed out, “It’s all in here,” gesturing to her head. One of my good friends while I was at the hospital gave me a shirt one day that said “It’s all mental” written across the front. It totally is.
Your mind can be your greatest enemy or your greatest asset. Make sure you make it the former, and you’ll see excellent, positive results. Only you can push yourself to your limits and be astonished by what you can achieve.
In conclusion. Have care for yourself and others. Understand people outside of your shoes. And strike a balance between compassion and drive.