Catastrophe to Acceptance

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When we are injured, society always expects us to recover. The medical world is built around this recovery, and getting back on your feet. So, it was through great struggle that Nancy finally came to the realization that she would never fully recover, and that she go on with her life with the assets she had. If you want to read the full story, it is here in her talk section.
In this expurgated version, we learn how Nancy moved on.

Eighteen years after my trauma, life lessons began to flood my mind.  I learned what behaviors were reasonable to expect after a brain injury.  With that information, I began to understand that I wasn’t totally at fault for all the jobs that were now in my past.

What a relief that was to learn!  There were things beyond my control that contributed to my losing so many jobs.  I began to understand that I wasn’t a failure just because of my inability to work in the mainstream.

Today, I ‘m a Trauma Recovery Expert / Disability Life Coach.  The activities that tend to deplete my energy are those that I just don’t do.  Every day, I need to remember that: I lead an interdependent life and I must be comfortable asking for assistance when I need it.

I have lived with my difficulties for more than 40 years and I’ve learned that:

  1. It’s in my best interests to confront rather than avoid my problems,
  2. It helps to think of myself as having a battle with the deficits created by my difficulties.
  3. As long as I remain ignorant of the status and combat capability of my problems, I will be unable to avoid or reduce my own suffering.

When I familiarize myself with the difficulties that might occur, my distress seems to be reduced as well as my fear and apprehension toward life with all my problems.  When I no longer need to be afraid of what might happen, I can better prepare myself for the Success Strategies that need to be made.

Another life change for me has been to have goals.  Those goals must be realistic and attainable.  I need to have an ultimate goal for my future, while recognizing my difficulties in the here and now.  As I strive to overcome challenges, it is important for me to make an effort to create gradual changes that will lead me to my ultimate goal.

Making a sustained effort is important when bringing about genuine change.  My experiences have taught me that it takes determination, effort and time to modify behavior.

I wrote a book that I created for rehabilitation professionals and for survivors.  The book is titled Acceptance Groups for Survivors,  A Guide for Facilitators. It is written in a structured group format that is designed to help people accept themselves and their new life circumstances.

Acceptance Groups for Survivors has 9 objectives.  They are:

  1. Grasp the concept of acceptance as a three-step process:  Recognizing problems, admitting deficits and accepting the reality of the present moment.
  2. Become invested in one’s own recovery.
  3. Build an understanding for Healthy Interdependence.
  4. Explore feelings accompanying disability.
  5. Understand that personal worth is not determined by ability to function.
  6. Deal with loss and be able to learn how to grieve and let go of disappointments.
  7. Become aware of personal strengths and weaknesses.
  8. Build a solid framework of realistic goals.
  9. Learn problem-solving skills.

Since people learn through repetition, each meeting begins and ends in the same way.  Before each group, a participant reads:

Recovery does not mean that you wake up one day and you’re fine.  It does not mean that your memory becomes intact.  It does not mean that you don’t get confused, and it certainly does not mean you regain the life you had prior to the injury/disability/illness.

Recovery to a person with an injury/disability/illness is making progress.  Making progress is accepting your deficits, learning success strategies to help you with those deficits and learning to love and value yourself.

At the end of every group meeting, all participants name a positive change that they’ve made since their trauma or they make a positive self-statement.

Does Anyone Live Free from Suffering and Loss? I don’t think so.  Is Recovery Worth the Struggle? It absolutely is.  My life has taught me that I was not singled out for the terrible misfortunes that I have experienced.  That insight alone doesn’t eliminate or minimize my problems.  It simply reduces the suffering that comes from struggling against the unfortunate facts of my life.

Let’s Review:

  1. When faced with an obstacle or challenging set of circumstances, what
    message(s) do I say to myself in order to keep from feeling defeated?

    • Recovery is not only making progress, it is taking one step.
  2. Why is setting goals important?
    • If you don’t set goals or visualize a picture of where you want to
      be, you will probably lose momentum.
    • Genuine change will require a sustained effort. That’s why it’s important
      to keep goals realistic and attainable!
  3. In order to recover, what qualities are required?
    • Recovery demands commitment and a sustained determination to overcome
      obstacles and attain goals.
    • It takes determination, effort and time to modify behavior.