I just finished reading a post on Jonathan Fields blog – Awake at the Wheel, which said that 52% of Americans would rather be dead than disabled.
When you think of disabled – what do you think of?
Most of us immediately think of those who are physically disabled because that is usually how the term is applied. I went to the dictionary to find a definition for “disabled” and I was surprised that the first definition was handicapped. Next I looked up the term handicapped and it listed disabled as one of its definitions.
Looking a little deeper I also found the definition “disadvantaged” applied to both of these terms. I also discovered that the dictionary did not restrict these terms to physical challenges but also to mental challenges.
In my mind there is a huge difference between disabled and disadvantaged.
Let’s face it, there are numerous areas in which we can be challenged or handicapped. In fact if you think about it, isn’t it true that we are all somewhat handicapped either physically, mentally, emotionally or socially?
Sometimes we apply the term dysfunctional to relationships, as in the expression “they come from a dysfunctional family.” In this case we could say that the social dynamic of the family is severally handicapped.
So let’s get to the point of this article. Handicapped means challenged and we are all challenged in one way or another. Being physically handicapped is a challenge that others can see. Being mentally, emotionally or socially handicapped may not be so obvious, but it can be equally disabling.
I have a friend named John who is an incredible athlete. Running, bicycling, hiking, weight lifting and just about any sport you can think of, John’s into it. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond his control John recently had to have the lower third of one of his legs amputated.
What would you do if you were in John’s situation? Would you be among that 52% that would rather be dead? Would you consider losing part of one in your legs as a disability or a handicap? Would you consider yourself to be dysfunctional or challenged? Think about that for a minute. Try to put yourself in John’s shoes, so to speak.
Life is full of challenges. It’s up to you whether or not those challenges become disabilities. Nothing has any value except what we assign it. If we decide that our challenges our insurmountable then they become our disabilities. On the other hand, if we view our challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, then our challenges actually contribute to our personal development.
How did John decide to deal with this situation?
Less than a year after his amputation John successfully ran the Monterrey Marathon, all 26 miles of it. Last time I saw John we barely had time to speak, why? Because he was so involved in a volleyball game that I did not want to break his concentration. John was an athlete before his amputation and he’s still an athlete today. He did not allow himself to become a victim of his circumstances.
What can we learn from John’s example?
No matter what challenges we face in life, the meaning of those challenges is always our choice. With the right mindset we can overcome any hurdle, rise to any set of circumstances and conquer any challenges.
We can all learn the life skills that will empower us to overcome any physical, mental, emotional or social obstacles that we encounter. Remember, it’s not what happens to you that’s important in the long run – it’s how you decide to deal with it. You do not need to be the victim of your circumstances.
Never allow your challenges to become your disabilities, choose personal growth instead. Make the choice to allow yourself to become the architect of your own life and the designer of your own destiny.
“Within each of us lies the power of our consent to health and sickness, to riches and poverty, to freedom and to slavery. It is we who control these, and not another.” -Richard Bach