“Only you can decide how far you will go”. It is true. Your mind is your super power. There are many who may disagree with me on this, but after 20 years of helping people who have suffered life changing injuries, my conviction is unwavering. You either believe you can, or you believe you can’t. I have seen this put into practice time and time again. And the result is always the same. Those who have the MOST belief in themselves (and their own abilities), go further. It is true.
On the contrary, I have learned the hard way how damaging what we say to patients can be.
“You had a massive stroke”
“Your brain has been severely damaged”
“Your muscles are weak because of your brain damage”.
Yes, that last one took me a long time to lose. But I did. Now, I rarely (if ever) say “weak leg” or “weak arm”. There is a very important reason for this. I don’t want your brain to hear that.
Yes, I occasionally talk to my patient’s brain. 😆 Or at least I think I do.
Anyway, the point is, patients use this language a lot. Do you? Do you tell yourself (in the midst of trying to do a task)….”I am struggling (with this task) because of my stroke”?
Other common phrases I hear are….”my muscles are dead”, “my brain can’t tell the muscles to work”, “I can’t lift my leg because my brain is turned off”…..etc.
If so, I say…..lose it. Lose those phrases. It won’t be easy. I mean, it IS what us healthcare professionals have been telling you. 🤦🏻♀️
Instead, when you start to hear yourself saying things like I mention above…..stop. Replace it with a NEW thought…….
” I will be able to move my arm, if I keep working on it.”
“Sure, a small part of my brain may be injured, but I have 95% of my brain STILL working and active!”
And when you are working on a task that really seems impossible, you need to pull out the big guns……..
“I refuse to stop trying”
“I know I can do this if I just keep working on it”
“Struggles make me stronger”
“I am strong”
“I am capable”
“I CAN move my arm”
“I CAN move my hand”
These affirmations are, in part, the rationale behind mirror therapy. You are sort of “tricking your brain” that the arm works.
Now, this would not be complete if I did not also mention that I am NOT a believer in affirmations without action. Pressure yields progress. If you do not feel like you are being pushed outside of your comfort zone, progress is near impossible.
Getting to the next level will come with some discomfort. It will come with frustration. It will come with moments of discouragement.
In those moments……welcome the emotion with open arms. Moments of discouragement, frustration, despair, hopelessness, anger are normal. They are MORE than normal, they are a GOOD thing. It means you are onto something. If you are frustrated, it means you want it. If you get angry or depressed, it is your brain “spurring you on”. Take that energy and turn it into positive action.
Here is the reality. If you have had a stroke/brain injury, or recovering from GBS, or you are living with MS, you have two choices. You have every right to give power to your circumstances and let the disease run the show. Or you can take that power back. Start telling your body what you want it to do instead of letting the disease tell you what your body is going to do. What will you choose?