Years ago I was very inspired by a friend who had been in a car accident and had spent some 20 years in a wheelchair.
She was a grandmother when I met her, but she had decided to test a principle she had heard, “Nothing is set in stone”, and try to teach her legs to walk again. After 20 years in a wheelchair. A retiree who wasn’t physically active.
That would seem like Mission Impossible to most people, and in fact, she received some pushback from people.
I listened to her, and decided to just suspend judgment and pre-conceived ideas, and see what unfolded instead.
She had heard that equine therapy was helping some accident victims and war vets to heal and regain better use of their legs, so she signed up for an equine therapy program. She also had heard that doing modified yoga positions was helping others regain use of and to strengthen body parts, so she signed up for that too.
She steadfastly kept going.
In the beginning, there wasn’t much change, but she persisted. Whether it was needing to hold onto hope or a deeper understanding of how her body could work, she didn’t give up, when most people would have, let alone NEVER would have tried it in the first place.
(I was inspired to write this post after I saw what I had written in response to Wynne’s post on Surprised by joy, “Growth Mindset” https://wynneleon.wordpress.com/2022/06/07/growth-mind-set/)
One thing I learned from a friend who had been in a wheelchair for more than 20 years as a result of a car accident and who was determined to teach her legs to walk again: “Nothing is set in stone!”
Years ago we were taught that intelligence and abilities were predetermined and weren’t changeable, so when women and men were told they had limitations based on gender, for the most part they believed it! A few brave souls pushed themselves and pushed the limits but many were chastised and punished for their efforts.
Now years later we see they were right all along! The limitations are in our minds! We can do pretty much anything that we set our minds to do!
Back to my friend who went through equine therapy to teach the muscles and synapses in her legs to learn to re-fire and to function again. She also did modified yoga poses, sometimes on her back to strengthen her muscles.
Guess what? She was successful! She did something that her doctors said would never happen!
Setting our minds to be open to learning is the first step to becoming capable of doing it. Efforts and persistence fill in the blanks over time and help us to develop the skills we seek to do!“Growth Mindset” https://wynneleon.wordpress.com/2022/06/07/growth-mind-set/
“What have I got to lose?”
I learned from my friend’s experience and “What have I got to lose?” became something I’d tell myself when faced with something I thought would be impossible to do.
I later shared that new mantra with my daughter, and together and individually we have been able to do things we didn’t think we were capable of doing.
This phrase was key to becoming open to trying something new or “impossible”, and this in turn opened my mind to exploring other things I had closed myself off to.
At the very least, we walk away
When we want to try something but aren’t sure if it will succeed, or if we could actually pull it off, experience has taught me to dip the toe into the proverbial waters.
Just as the image of dipping a toe into the water doesn’t invoke a lot of fears, simply because we aren’t jumping in head first. A slow but steady approach is key to success!
If we just jump in, we may hit obstacles lying under the surface which we can’t immediately see. However, by dipping a toe in, we can safely remove ourselves if it proves to not be for us.
Trying something out slowly allows us to adapt to the new situation, and build some new fledgling skills we will use later. It allows us to build up our confidence with small accomplishments.
Persistence is a key factor
Just because we try something out at a slower pace doesn’t mean we aren’t 100% invested in our efforts. It just means we’re going at a slower, more mindful pace, so we don’t get in over our heads!
Just like my friend kept going to her therapy sessions and to yoga classes, even when she wasn’t seeing results at the beginning, DOESN’T mean that nothing was actually happening!
By persisting in our efforts, we’re building new neural pathways, developing new muscle memories, and building our skill levels.
Sometimes a long time can go by when it doesn’t seem like much is happening, and all of a sudden things seem to just fit into place!
Trust the process
Too often we give up before we see the results. “Well it wasn’t going to work anyway,” we tell ourselves.
I’ve seen this happen when people are working on a big inner breakthrough because as so often happens in those moments, everything seems inside-out and upside-down. There can be TOO MUCH happening inside, and it feels very overwhelming.
When the overwhelm comes, and it will, pause
Developing new neural pathways happens when we start having new thoughts or doing actions we previously didn’t do.
Every thought and action creates new neural pathways.
Habits get created when thoughts and actions are repeated often enough that a neural pathway roadway is built from all the overlaying paths. If we repeat a thought or action often enough that becomes our go-to, as our brains are seeking ways to be more efficient.
Habits were created out of our brains trying to be efficient and not keep wasting energy thinking about the process too much.
Creating NEW habits is very tiring because we need to mindfully focus on our new thought or action, all the while our brain is strongly pulling back into our old shortcuts because it is what is more comfortable for our brains!
When you feel overwhelmed or tired with all the new work you are doing, just pause!
Take a break! Slow down!
Instead of giving up, give your mind and spirit time to absorb all the newness.
What we need is a pause, not to give up!
Sometimes the best thing for us is to take a break! Slow down the pace!
Even if we keep taking baby steps, we will still cover the miles, it will just be at a more manageable pace!
Whose timetable are we trying to live up to?
We feel stressed when we can’t “keep up” or do what others seem to be able to do easily.
When we follow our own inner timetable, we listen to both what our spirit wants us to accomplish, as well as what our minds and bodies are capable of!
Take the time you need to, and slow down your pace if necessary.
Pacing yourself is a sign of wisdom, NOT weakness!
As long as you keep going, you will make progress!
Remember my friend in the wheelchair? She developed her strength and abilities over time and she regained the ability to walk!
Encouraging, isn’t it?
I hope you’ll poke around my Archived Posts to find a wonderful trove of supportive and encouraging posts!
I’m sharing more posts that may be helpful for you:
- 10 Steps to Owning Our Happiness
- Setting “Boundaries with consequences”
- Making a change… “How do I take that first step?”
- Affirmation: Today is a new day! I can do this!
- As we practice being gentle and kind with ourselves, we actually help to speed the process of helping our lives become more positive!
- Always believe that wonderful things can happen!
- A healthy outside starts from the inside!
- Brain Rewiring
More good stuff:
Please go to my Archived Posts page to find more wonderful posts to check out!
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