While we all need to vent sometimes to share our struggles and gain valuable support and understanding, what if someone’s first interaction on social media with a person with a disability is a meltdown about how difficult and unfair life is?
Or when those of us living with these issues find ourselves feeling depressed, hopeless and lacking confidence or purpose…then become a sounding board for this representation?
How does that affect the rest of the disability community? In getting a job, finding new friends, dates and social outlets, or becoming our own best selves?
How can we share our common challenges but also help to lift each other up?
Others in our community have chimed in to give their “best practices” on staying positive even in the most daunting, frustrating and painful times.
We hope you find these beneficial and while some may seem easy to say, is all about having the information, and then utilizing it in our daily lives….and repeating until it becomes habit.
What have you found that helps you to keep your thoughts positive and working towards your personal goals?
The Quirky Quad columnist Ali Ingersoll discusses the research behind positive thinking and its effects on our health (inflammation caused by stress etc.) in her new feature.
“I can only speak for my personal experience, but there are several things that I do on a regular basis, which does take some discipline and effort, especially on the days that are challenging, with respect to reducing pain for me. I suffer from a variety of different ailments, but pain is the biggest inhibitor of living life for me at times.”
One of these strategies from her article:
1.) Human Interaction: For many quads I now it can be very tempting to stay in all day and for some you may not have much of a choice if you don’t have transportation or someone to take you out. If you can’t physically get out of the house to even, go sit on the grass and enjoy nature for a few minutes, you can certainly go online to find other spinal cord injury groups to chat with. A word of caution though … It can easy to get into a negative chat cycle with those with similar injuries by constantly talking about all of your woes and challenges you deal with on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, this is important, but if you are always talking about what is going wrong in your life and you are unaware that you are doing it, how are you going to change this behavior? Perhaps try thinking about talking about one positive thing a day and go from there.” To read the full article click here
Things I do to make me feel sane and healthy are:
- meditation (both with a practitioner or using the Headspace app on my phone- it has different tracts for pain management, stress, depression, balance, etc.)
- eat well
- supplements – turmeric and collagen
- schedule time for recreation
- make it a point to call or email friends I haven’t connected with in awhile
- participate in creative things that make me feel good – take a writing class, an acting class, painting, etc.
Reveca Torres, Founder
I’ve found as I get older that my best practices for reducing stress in my life have become second nature. Through daily repetition to the point where they have become habit in and of itself helps to reduce stress.
I’ll go back several years when it started with my need to practice self-discipline so that I could influence the outcome of potentially stressful situations. It was the daily pep talk and using simple deep breathing exercises to control the inner self. Then looking at each situation with a broad mindset and breaking it down into simple components.
There is this “thing” inside our heads I refer to as Mindspeak. It would normally happen when a stressful situation was unfolding. This Mindspeak would begin to play out outcomes to the situation and always in the negative. The situation would be confrontational, arguments ensuing and all in my head. It was time to use the self-discipline that I had worked on to shut down Mindspeak as soon as it started to turn the situation into something far more grand scale that it should have been. So far, self-discipline and shutting down Mindspeak.
Today I keep things simple and broken down into small components where solutions and a plan to deal with a particular situation are easy and clear to see. I’ve had lots of opportunities to try this out, and it sure works for me.
However, with a new injury or diagnosis there is way too much happening physically and emotionally to try this out….my advice there is to break things down into small pieces and use the support system you have around you.
It’s so easy for us to focus on the negative, what we don’t have. I am guilty of this. When I find myself in a funk, I like to write down the positive things in my life, my accomplishments, and for what I am thankful. Doing this helps me put things into perspective.
I find it very challenging to write about my “best practices” in a way that someone would find useful. They center largely around a radical examination and exploration of the “anatomy of mind,” which lately for me involves frequent deep dives into The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and my collection of his audio lectures (plus an 8-installment video course that he just released). I’m still wrapping my head around it all. It’s not reducible to a few well-written paragraphs.
If you haven’t listened to it (audio) or put the book back up on the shelf, I would highly recommend that you take it down and (constantly) get re-acquainted with it. There’s so much there.
Check out Stephen’s newest recording of Here Comes the Sun on YouTube now
One of the most important practices I use to stay mindful, positive and grateful is meditation. In this fast paced world, it’s easy to forget that we are in charge of the way we feel and what we focus on. Meditation offers the path to reconnecting with ourselves, being deliberate with our thoughts and shifting our entire perspective of the world around us.
It’s about finding the peace that’s already within us and allowing it to come forth. The practice can be as simple as taking five minutes in a busy airport to focus on my breathing. Often, I use a 20-minute meditation audio and spend the time visualizing my goals and mentally listing things I’m grateful for (my favorite is the Moses Code Meditation by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer and James F. Twyman – it’s on Spotify!). Other times, it’s as simple as watching a sunset or dancing like no one is watching – and really being present for the experience.
Mindfulness practices are a way of life for me and form the foundation for the work that I do with Zen Warrior Training. There are some universal things that show up with a lot of my clients, regardless of who they are and what the circumstances of their lives are. One is the notion that all we have to do in order to think positively is to focus on happy and productive thoughts. To do this with any kind of consistency would involve controlling the mind more than even the most advanced meditators are able to. Plus, not all experiences are meant to be happy experiences, and by thinking that we should be positive when we are having a negative experience, we just end up judging ourselves, which never leads anywhere except into more frustration.
A mindfulness practice is not about controlling the mind but, rather, noticing the mind. Noticing that the nature of the mind is that it is constantly giving a commentary about our experience. When we can observe this, we can become aware that we are not the thoughts in our head, because if we were, then who would be thinking them? By learning to separate who we are from the thoughts in our heads, the thoughts and feelings can come and go and not have control over us. When our thoughts and feelings no longer have control over us, we have the liberty to choose what we decide to think and do. Having that ability will not mean that we will always be having a positive experience, but that we will be empowered to choose how we respond to the experiences we are having.
Sam Morris, Founder, Zen Warrior Training, LLC
Zen Warrior Training
For me, it has taken me a long time to figure this out and it takes a lot of discipline and effort to be mindful. I am a naturally optimistic person so that helps, but I have had very dark times and a history of suicide in my family.
I have learned to “change the channel” in my mind when my thoughts go to a negative place, “A positive thought and a negative thought cannot occupy your mind at the same time.”
Having some good friends who are wiser and more advanced than me in these areas have been a tremendous source of learning and support. “Beware of the company you keep” If you have negative draining people in your life, you will take on that energy so be careful to whom you give your time and attention.
Exercise has helped me to focus better, and I force myself to do it, even if I can’t do much, anything that raises your heart rate will do. I dance in my kitchen, ride a hand cycle, swim and just push down the street. #Selfcare is critical too as so much of what we have to deal with can actually be prevented with a good diet, stretching, and water. Sugar can make you depressed and cause UTI’s, arthritis and joint pain and lead to weight gain which will take on a whole new set of challenges and emotional distress.
When you are feeling down and desperate, fill your head with positive influences. Read a book, listen to a podcast, add your favorite quotes to Pinterest and follow positive motivational leaders on social media. Delete the negative…what you allow to go in your mind is what you become. Your thoughts are your life.
Deborah J. Davis