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, find success and build on it
- Find ways to give to others
- Take risks: Feel the fear and move forward anyway
- Make something: Create meaning out of suffering
Start Small, Find Success and Build on It
Whatever action you choose to take, it’s important to start where you can succeed. Finding that success often means you have to break down tasks into very small pieces. You may need help from your team to break down tasks. I know I did. How small should tasks be? As small as they need to be for you to experience success.
I can’t stress enough how important success is. Brain injury tends to rob us of feelings of success. Many of us fail over and over at previously simple tasks. Those repeated failures can damage self-confidence and self-esteem.
My own self-confidence and self-esteem were both at rock bottom after my brain injury. When I began having success creating and completing crafts, it was like a shot of adrenalin for my psyche. The more success I experienced, the more motivated I became to continue building my new life and to continue moving forward, one tiny step at a time.
Actions you can succeed at will propel you forward. When you find something you can do successfully, no matter how small it is, that’s where you build from.
Making It Your Own
Write down an action you would like to take.
What are the small steps needed to accomplish this action?
What difficulties could you face while taking this action?
What strategies would help you be successful?
Who can you ask for help if you need it?
Write down a task you’ve failed at.
How could you turn that task into a success?
- Break it down into smaller pieces?
- Use a different strategy?
- Ask for help?
- Decide it’s too big to attempt right now?
- Other idea
What’s an activity you’re successful at right now?
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.