March being Brain Injury Awareness Month, I started thinking about awareness and what that meant to me. I thought, not just about others’ awareness of TBI, but the impact better self-awareness, awareness of our own situation and ourselves would have in helping us live the life we want.
Those of us who have had a TBI often get caught up in our day to day struggles and short term issues which sap our energy and frustrate us. These are the things that are right in our face and steal our confidence. Looking back at my own situation, I can see that the first decade and a half following my brain injury was a time of ignorance of what was possible in my life, coupled with a little too much acceptance of my situation. This may have been fueled by the general lack of knowledge of Brain Injury (it being the 1980’s), but was also driven by something missing in me; a definite lack of awareness of my personal power, and the role my lack of personal power played in my life.
I made my first attempt to recapture myself and begin living my life the way I thought I could, fifteen years after my brain injury. The change that I instituted came about, not through an awareness of my brain injury, but an awareness and understanding of me; that I had the power within me to make my life better. This power was not magically dropped into my lap, but was always there; like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, when she found she had had the power to go home all the time in the ruby slippers. She just had to learn how to use that power.
The change I made didn’t have anything to do with where I was living or where I worked. In fact, it had nothing to do with “doing” or accomplishing anything, but it had everything to do with “me”, and with “who I was”. At the time, “who I was”, was a married man with two children who worked as sales manager in a family business, and I was doing my best to forget about my brain injury despite having reminders pop up constantly.
In response to feeling awkward, slow, easily confused and having poor judgement; as well as feeling unsure of myself, not confident and frequently overwhelmed, I began a simple exercise. When someone asked me how I was, I would respond, “Un-believable!!”. The truth was I wasn’t really “Un-believable!!”, but I was determined to take the bull by the horns, and be that way.
There is great power in this word when you say it like you mean it; emphasizing the “Un”, and putting a pause in between “Un” and “Believable”. Practice it a few times. Scream it. I found that the more I said, “Un-believable!”, the more I believed it, and I learned one other thing that was very interesting: people I said it to wanted to be “Un-believable!!” too. They wanted what I had. Some would say wistfully, “I wish I was Un-believable,” and I would tell them they could, they just had to say they were.
Another thing about this word; I stayed “Un-believable!!” even when I messed up. One little mess-up couldn’t change the way I was.
Finding and believing in something positive can be difficult after a brain injury. It is possible, but you have to dare to think big and be stubborn. If you were to take a step back, look at all you have been through and what you have to battle every day, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that alone makes you truly, “Un-believable!!”. Don’t shy away from yourself and your capabilities, but claim success. Believe it and it will be so.
****On a side note, I would like to point you to the blog of someone who has done an “Un-believable!!” job of living his life after brain Injury. Please check out Papa’s blog at www.papas-travels.blogspot.com. Thanks, J