The Greatest Challenges Faced by Families After Brain Injury and How to Overcome Them

Taryn Stejskal and Jeffrey Kreutzer, The National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, Virginia Commonwealth Model Systems of Care
The Greatest Challenges Faced by Families After Brain Injury and How to Overcome Them

People set goals when they do not like their current situation and want to make changes. After injury, survivors and their families face many difficult situations, changes, and problems. They often become frustrated because they cannot do the things they used to be able to do. Setting reasonable goals is key for overcoming problems or challenges. Reasonable goals are those which a person can be expected to achieve given his or her current situation. They are practical, specific, reachable, and flexible ways to make your life better. Following is a list of suggestions to help you set reasonable goals:

  • Look ahead of you not behind you. Making comparisons to the way things used to be is common after injury, but these comparisons can have negative effects. Survivors and their family members may become sad, overwhelmed, worried, scared, or angry when they focus on the differences between how they are now and how they were before. Looking ahead can help you feel better because you can make changes to the future not the past.
  • Set goals considering your recent progress. Setting goals based on how things were going before the injury can lead to frustration for everyone. Instead, take a look at how things are now, and plan a small step forward from how things are today. Taking one small step at a time will provide more chances for success.
  • Remember that most people set their goals too high. When people set their goals too high, they may be disappointed if they can’t achieve them. They may judge themselves harshly or expect too much too soon. Setting reasonable goals that are reachable increases the chances that you’ll get what you want.
  • Take small steps. If you have a large goal you want to accomplish, break it down into small steps that you can accomplish. Work one step at a time, and eventually, you’ll come closer to your large goal.
  • Whose goal is it anyway? People often feel pressured to meet someone else’s goals. Figure out if the goal is what you want or what other people want for you. Balance what you want and what others expect from you.
  • Some goals take the help of lots of people. Some goals are too big for one person to handle on their own. You’re only human, not superhuman. Recognize your limitations and when you need help reaching your goals, ask for help.
  • Build on your strengths. After injury, people often focus only on their limitations. Don’t lose sight of the good things you have to offer. Learn to recognize what you do best, then use those strengths to help you accomplish your goals.
  • Congratulate yourself. People tend to be hard on themselves and don’t give themselves credit for successes. Reward yourself when you take steps forward, even if they are small.
  • Keep in mind that no one is perfect. People often become frustrated with themselves and beat themselves up if they don’t achieve their goals. No one is perfect, and no one can reach all of their goals all the time. You may find the goal you set was too high and unreachable. If you don’t reach a goal, re-evaluate your progress and try to decide if the goal was actually reasonable for you.

Goal setting is an important step in reaching what you want. Try setting goals to improve your life in some way. Pick one that you can accomplish in a day, another in a week, and another in a month. Talk to a family member or friend about your goals and ask them if your goals seem reasonable and reachable. Get their ideas and suggestions. Then reward yourself for taking three steps in a positive direction!

The most important thing about goals is having one.
– Geoffry F. Abert

Posted on BrainLine June 19, 2009.

From the National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury, Virginia Commonwealth Model Systems of Care. Reprinted with permission.

Comments (1)

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I sincerely love all your articles.  There is something beyond comforting and less feeling alone in reading of a person without brain injury or normal person who truly can put words thoughts emotions etc into out world!  Thank you! I so appreciate you!