Someone recently asked me, “What is needed to overcome a problem?”
I decided that this would be worth at least one post, so here goes:
My first thought is that there are some necessary components to overcoming, whether that is disability, illness, survivor issues or other life circumstances. Just by definition, overcoming involves some hard work, endurance and difficulty.
At the top of my list is the need to make a decision. In one sense, it really is that simple. If you want to overcome, you have to decide that you will. Nobody can do that for you; overcoming doesn’t happen by itself. Make your choice carefully: Know as much as you can about the challenge, what you need to “beat it” and what you need for resources. Who will be your best supporter and cheer leader(s)? Who will be the greatest nay sayer? Hopefully, you are the head of your cheer leading team. Having said that, there will be times when trusted people need to encourage, challenge and strengthen you. Nay sayers might be some people who are close to you; they might be service providers or society in general. Knowing who they are helps you to guard your heart around them. Be diligent about keeping your power; don’t give them any.
Be realistic: If I were to set my criterion for overcoming blindness as “I can see,” I would be in for continued, severe disappointment. If, however, my decision is that blindness won’t stop me from having healthy relationships, meaningful work and interesting hobbies, I’m good to go. I still have to work with my disability. I remember one of those “ah ha moments,” many years ago. I was doing some homework when the realization that railing against limitations was using energy unnecessarily and keeping me from building on the possibilities. It was one of those points of wisdom that helped me to embrace who I am as I am, instead of wishing that I were someone else. I have a bachelors and two masters degrees; I’m a musician; I grow a lovely garden and have a fabulous circle of friends… And yes, I’m still blind.
Step by step is the way to go. Overcoming is an on-going process that happens every day. Before you go to bed each night, ask yourself, “What can I do tomorrow that fits my goals?” It may not be much, especially at first. If you are learning to walk after an accident, for example, it could be as simple as wiggling your toes. If you are building a new belief or identity, it could be a declaration that you will repeat throughout the day. Here’s one: It might be saying, “no” to someone you have enabled for years. Write it down; remind yourself when you wake up. A note on the mirror might be helpful.
Have mercy. Because overcoming has to do with obstacles of all sorts, there will be plenty of times when you fall or miss the goal. That’s all right; get up, try again. Adjust your approach when you need to. Ask for help; seek wise counsel. Do keep on keeping on – Perseverance is one of the necessary components.
Finally, at least in this bit of musing, build on what you have: What already works, even a little bit? What strengths, talents, resources and assistance do you have? How can you use all of this to improve your life? Another moment of wisdom for me was that I might not be able to see, but I can still use my other four senses, think, learn and feel; I have a strong intuitive sense that always serves me well… I also have a stupendous memory, something that compensating for blindness probably enhanced. You can build on assets far more easily than you can fight against deficits. You can build on what you want; trying to deal with what you don’t want is only digging a hole in the ground.”
Okay, one more thought: Do it! Wanting and deciding are important; yet they are nothing if you don’t act on them. Choose, set your goals; then GO for it!