Guest Post by Courtney Gordner, DEG Contributor
(Editor’s note: I love Courtney’s new post! Even if you do not live with someone who has special needs, I highly recommend that all of you reading this get involved with The Friendship Circle, or organizations similar to this one. It is a really great way of being able to bring more smiles to more children with special needs worldwide. I had the privilege of being a speaker at their leadership conference a few years sago and I can tell you that this is an amazing group of individuals dedicated to making a real difference in people’s lives! And now, back to your regularly scheduled guest by post by the very talented Courtney Gordner!)
No matter the type and severity of your disability, it can certainly make life more difficult. Although challenges are inevitable, they don’t have to dictate the characteristics of your existence in negative ways. Keep reading to learn some pearls of wisdom that could help you live your life to the fullest as a disabled person.
Don’t Let Society Shape Your Mindset
Unfortunately, many people in today’s society have preconceived notions about what disabled people can and cannot do. Although it’s not realistically possible to avoid naysayers altogether, there’s no reason to be poorly influenced by individuals who have narrow-minded opinions about the capabilities of disabled people. When you conquer things against the odds, it proves you can break stereotypes.
Know Your Limits
It’s also very important to be fully aware of your limitations and do anything in your power to minimize their influences in your daily life. For example, if you have a form of cerebral palsy that makes it difficult to walk long distances without becoming tired, it may be worthwhile to research mobility aids that could help you save your strength. Also, if you have a cognitive impairment that makes it harder to remember information that is given in your college coursework, talk to academic advisors about getting specialized assistance, such as the aid of a note taker.
Request Help When Necessary
This point goes along with the one directly above. Always remember that reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness, but simply an indicator you are willing to be proactive and make use of available resources in order to live a maximally fulfilling life.
In some cases, deciding to go without help can have far-reaching impacts on your future. While doing something like applying for disability benefits, there are several things that can affect your likelihood of getting approved. That’s why it’s such a good idea to work with a legal professional to get guidance throughout the process.
Never Settle for Harmful Relationships
Just like people who do not have disabilities, you have every right to enjoy satisfying relationships with others and you should expect nothing less. Unfortunately, you’ll probably encounter people who want to spend time with you solely out of pity.
Luckily, there are just as many people, or perhaps even more, who won’t see your disability as something that factors into a friendship or romantic relationship at all. With that in mind, don’t ever waste your time with people who seem to have impure intentions.
Find Your Happy Place
Everyone who goes through life will encounter trouble from time to time. However, some of the things you cope with as a disabled person might be difficult for others to understand unless they also have the same disability or a similar one. That’s why it’s so important to figure out things you can do on your own when you need cheering up. Maybe that means going to hear some live music from The Winter Line or watching an Adam Sandler comedy. The specifics don’t really matter, as long as you find a therapeutic way to deal with momentary hard times.
Shine Your Light for Others
Even if you don’t realize it, you’re probably being a great inspiration to someone else just by living your life. Consider being a peer mentor to people who are also disabled. If you’re not comfortable with taking such a specific role, just continue living in a way that shows you don’t let your disability stop you from doing whatever you set out to accomplish.
Earlier on, you learned how important it is not to get discouraged by what others perceive you can do. However, along those same lines, it’s also essential not to allow your mind to fill with self-defeating thoughts. Many people, ranging from Stevie Wonder to Franklin Roosevelt, have gone on to live admirable lives despite their disabilities. You could follow their examples, but not if you allow yourself to be plagued with negative thoughts.
In addition to putting these tips into action throughout your life, it’s also crucial to have a strong network of support comprised of both disabled and able-bodied individuals. With the help of that foundation, you should feel well equipped to progress towards your aspirations.
Courtney Gordner is a blogger/journalist who loves to write. While she enjoys writing about a variety of topics, internet marketing and social media are her favorites. You can read more from her on her blog, Talk Viral or connect with her on Twitter, @CourtGordner, Pinterest and Google+.