Motivational speaker Tom Krause said, “When life knocks you down, you have two choices — stay down or get up.” That is easier said than done, especially when something catastrophic happens and causes significant life changes. You can’t say, “It’s done and get on with it.” Life, tragedy, and healing don’t work that way.
A brain injury isn’t something a person intended to happen or planned for. When the injury occurs, it is without choice or negotiation. Once it has happened, there is no turning back. As we know, a brain injury brings about significant changes not only for the person but also for the family. The person living with the brain injury is often not the same, and he or she and the family have to adjust to personality changes, a shift in family roles and responsibilities, and lifestyle changes.
Many clients are told to “accept” what has happened and get on with life. Again, this is easier said than done. The person giving the advice is implying that by coming to terms with what has happened, one can move on. The people receiving the advice on the other side, however, see acceptance as defeat. For them, acceptance brings resignation. “I have to accept where I am at… nothing will change… I will not get better… I can’t get to where I was pre-injury….” Many clients and families I work with feel that by accepting the situation they are resigning themselves to a life they did not ask for and don’t want. And, that feels hopeless.
Acceptance is not defeat. Acceptance is yes, examining life as it is today, in the moment, but it is also where you begin to make a plan and implement change. Acceptance is empowerment. Defeat, on the other hand, is where one is blocked from achieving an aim or goal. It is resignation, and it disempowers people. Acceptance brings relief because it acknowledges where you are and helps you to determine what you have control over and what you don’t have control over.
An important part of coming to acceptance is asking for help. This is not weak, nor does it mean you are doing any of this wrong. There are things only you can do, but having to decipher, sort through it all, and develop a plan are not necessarily things you need to do on your own. The other reason to ask for help is that the people helping you are not immersed in your pain. This gives them a different perspective, and therefore they can help you to flesh out ideas of where you want to go and how and what you need to get there.
Acceptance is important because it brings freedom and empowers you to move forward in life. In accepting your situation, you are taking personal responsibility for your life and regaining control. When you have control and feel empowered, you open the door of endless possibility to welcome new and meaningful activities and relationships in your life. The more you have of these two elements in life, the more joyful you will feel. The more joyful you feel, the more of these opportunities you will attract. It begins a cycle of positivity and creates a healthy wholeness in life — and nobody deserves it more than you!
Janelle Breese Biagioni, RPC, is an author, speaker, and counselor with expertise in grief, loss, life transitions, and brain injury. She resides with her family in Victoria, BC. She is the author of A Change of Mind: One Family’s Journey through Brain Injury and the upcoming book, Life Losses: Healing for a Broken Heart. Visit her website at www.janellebb.com and follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JanelleBreeseBiagioni. She can be contacted at Janelle@janellebb.com.
Used with permission from Brain Injury Journey magazine, issue #7, Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc.
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Brain Injury Journey is a 32-page, 8 1/2 x 11, full-color magazine that addresses a wide range of topics for military and civilian people with traumatic brain injury and their families and caregivers. Published four times a year starting in April 2013, the magazine is free online or available by printed subscription.
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