In this 9-part series author Carole Starr shares guiding steps she used to help her accept her “new normal” after her brain injury. Excerpted from her book, To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury.
When your life has been shattered by brain injury and the door to your old life has not just closed, but slammed shut, how do you find a new door of happiness and acceptance? Where do you look? How do you begin? Below is a list of actions that gradually helped me in my journey from banging against the closed door of my old life to walking through the open door of my new life. I hope they can help you, too.
- Get to know your new self
- Listen for the wisdom of the little voice inside
- Take action
- Start small
- Give to others
- Take risks
- Make something
- Tracking your progress
Listen for the Wisdom of the Little Voice Inside
When you’re focused on knowing yourself in the present, the door to a new life has begun to crack open. I believe all of us have a little voice, an inner wisdom that can offer guidance about how to further open that door. It’s a quiet voice, one that can’t be heard when you’re living in the past and trying desperately to get back to the way life used to be.
My little voice inside didn’t come out until I stopped trying to go back to teaching and music. I had to stop trying to be the old Carole. My inner wisdom came out when I focused on the present and the new Carole.
As I focused on my present, I observed within me a new desire to make things. I wanted to use my hands to create, which was something I’d never done before. My little voice inside was whispering ‘make something’.
This was surprising to me because I’d never been interested in hands-on activities pre-injury. My inner voice was pointing me in a new direction. Sometimes we just have to trust the wisdom of our inner voice and see where it leads us.
How do you access the little voice inside? It doesn’t tend to come out on command. Hearing it requires patience.
My little voice inside seems to come out when I’m alone and doing a quiet but engaging activity. Activities that work well are ones that keep me focused, but don’t take up all of my cognitive energy. Many of them also have a rhythmic quality to them. Some of my best insights have come to me while meditating, journal writing, taking a walk, weeding the garden, washing the dishes or even just taking a shower.
The little voice inside is like a compass, pointing you in the direction of your new life. When you can hear and act on its wise counsel, you are on your way.
Making It Your Own
What’s a quiet, present-focused activity you can do to access your
little voice inside?
- Write in a journal
- Take a walk
- Weed the garden
- Wash the dishes
- Take a shower
If you can hear your little voice inside, what direction does it point you in?
To hear Carole talk about these steps, you can watch this short video clip.
Previous article in the series < Get to Know Your New Self
To Root & To Rise is available as a print, e-book, and audiobook. Please visit Carole Starr’s website for more information.
Carole Starr is a 20-year brain injury survivor, national keynote speaker, author of To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury, and the founder/facilitator of Brain Injury Voices, an award-winning survivor volunteer group in Maine.