Imagine for a moment that you’re an adventurous climber. You’re a climber and it’s just you, some ropes, a mountain. That’s it. You’re solo. How do you push yourself to get to the top? What gets you there? What motivates you? Let’s chat about motivation, shall we? What it means, how to get it, how it may relate to being disabled. Motivation is basically your reasons for behaving in a certain way, right? That invisible, inner drive for wanting or getting something (or someone), that craving or desire. Where the heck does it come from?
I’m not about to climb a mountain anytime soon but in my own experience, the best motivation comes from within, rather, has to come from within. This isn’t to say that a well-meaning person in your life can’t motivate you, inspire you, push you, believe in you. They absolutely can. That’s the best! As someone with several mentors, having one (or more) is superb. But there’s just something about a strong push and drive to get something done or achieve something, which emerges from inside of yourself. Knowing and realizing you possessed that power, determination, and discipline all along can be really empowering. Sure, other people can give you advice––sometimes unsolicited, let’s be honest––and offer their opinions at any time. That’s fine. What happens when it comes from you, though? Something awesome, that’s what. Arguably, motivation that comes from within is often the best kind. If motivation doesn’t come from within, oftentimes it may work in reverse. For example, if somebody tried to pressure me into doing something, in an attempt to “improve” my life trajectory or even life choices and is condescending in doing so instead of encouraging, the less I’m gonna wanna do anything. Being pressured to do things, especially rudely, isn’t fun.
The more I think about it, that condescending style can lead back to infantilization, which I wrote a bit about on here a while back. Infantilization just means to treat someone like a child, specifically in a way that denies their maturity in either age or experience. Sounds crappy, right? Well, imagine being infantilized as a disabled person. Trust me, it feels a million times worse than it might if I were non-disabled. Think about it, our ableist society already thinks I can’t do x, y, or z because I’m disabled, so to be infantilized on top of those misconceptions and blatant assumptions? Gross. No thank you. My not-so-subtle message to any non-disabled person who might be reading this: don’t do that. Don’t infantilize us. Don’t infantilize me. I’m not a child. I’m an adult. My disability and I know each other well enough that things between us go by unspoken and understood. We interact in one capacity or another every single day. CP ain’t going anywhere. We’re old friends by now. Point being, I know what I can and can’t do.
When it comes to being disabled, I feel motivation comes in many forms, appears in different ways. No, it’s not just motivation to work on my walking. I work hard to improve my mobility but it goes well beyond that. Improving my mobility is not my only goal in life. For instance, there’s motivation to practice good health and wellness. Starting personal training recently with a new and improved exercise regimen has been a huge part of that.
There’s also inner motivation to prohibit my disability from taking over my life. Controlling me. Holding me back. Stopping me. It never has and I’m not about to let it now. So, really, motivation to live life a certain way. I’d rather be as positive as I possibly can about my circumstances than the opposite. It works for me most of the time. Of course, being disabled can be incredibly frustrating and tough, so often I find myself pushing through that frustration to see the good. Usually it takes effort and energy. Like I’ve said, it’d be too easy to be bitter and depressed about it. So I choose not to be. When I am, occasionally? Well, more often than not I honestly forgive myself because let’s face it, I’ve been through a lot. My body has been through a lot. Obviously, I’m going to get frustrated or upset sometimes. I’m only human. I just do the work to feel those feelings then let them evaporate, usually through practicing effective self-care. Like a hot shower. Or through writing. Or watching a tv show I like. Maybe even indulging in a piece of chocolate.
Knowing what I want to do comes from inside…from my own passions, motivations and goals. Things I’ve spent forever trying to figure out. Let’s think about it this way: I’m a writer (obviously). We know this. There’s no way I’m going to change that part of myself. So follow your passion and let that be that. Do what makes you happy, for crying out loud. Life is too short to be miserable. Maybe you really do want to climb a mountain under the sun somewhere. Maybe it’s a passion, a goal, an item on your list. Go for it! Safely though.