Disable the Label

When someone tells you that you will never be able to achieve what your heart desires, what does your mind tell you?

“They’re right.  Who am I?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t even try.”

My mind has told me those things.  I thought that if someone can see that in me, then I must be too naive to see it for myself.  Until I realized that by listening to them I was only giving myself the excuse that I cannot, that I was indeed unable. 

So I came up with “Switch Words,” a mind game I would do when those things were said to me or about me.  It’s simple really.  Let me show you.  Just take the top 3 phrases from above and change them from Nay to Yay.

“They’re not right.  Who am I?  Marina.  What am I? Able.”

“Maybe I should try, and try, and keep trying.”

I slowly began to see myself for the first time.  Not just my physical appearance in the mirror, but my mental strength as well.   I went from “no, never” to “yes, always”.  And when that “yes” or that “always” fell a bit short, my desire never did. 

My hope for a better life for myself found me. 

That hope then manifested into desire.  Desire into dream.  Dream into a passion.  And finally my passion became my reality.  All with a change of words, a change of perspective, and of course becoming Able.

Check your attitude. The first step in this transformation is to simply check your attitude. If it’s bad or poor, leave it at the door.  If it’s good and strong, make it prolong.

Nobody ever got anywhere in life with a bad attitude.  In fact, the biggest disability we all face in life is a bad attitude. 

Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I’m perfect, that I’ve never had a bad attitude.  Because, I have – plenty of times.  Like just this morning when a man cut me off on my way to work.  You’re not human if you haven’t felt frustrated, angry, pitiful, sad, everything.  The key is to know when your attitude is holding you back, and then have enough courage to change it.  Check it, change it, and you’ll live it.  Check, Change, Live. 

Dump the baggage. Remember the first time you went on vacation and packed so much that your bag wouldn’t even close?  You have to decide what you should take out to make it zip…to make it lighter.  Life is the same way.  If you’re walking around carrying a heavy bag, you might not get very far, or even make it. 

So, dump the baggage that is holding you back from being Able.  You’ll feel lighter, and most importantly, you might find something else to put in the bag to make it more comfortable.  Something you may have forgot you needed, and always had.

Eliminate negativity. The beautiful Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  I thought a lot about what this meant as a person who is judged for her disability.  What does it really mean for all those who have felt defeated by the judgments of others? 

Perhaps the real reason people object to us being Able is because they have yet to find their own ability.  Or maybe that those who make you feel less are only naive to their own weaknesses.  The moment we start believing others when they say we cannot, we are unable, is the same moment you are giving them consent to make you feel inferior. 

It’s difficult to stand on two feet when one is tied to the ground because of nay-sayers.  However, it’s easy to remember 2 words when you begin to feel that way.  Next time you find yourself agreeing with another person’s “no’s, nopes, can’ts, nevers”….I want you to look them in the eye and say “Watch Me.”   

Envision your life: When your attitude changes and becomes your strength, when you dump some baggage, when you feel confident enough to say “watch me,”…….that’s when life gets real interesting. 

After so many judgments passed my way, I soon understood negative people were no match for my will.  I learned they couldn’t hold me.  I took it day by day.  Even though I would have moments I couldn’t see that I was Able, I never ever forgot that everyone fumbles.  To peer upon their faces when they see I’ve disabled my label…..That is an expression I will never forget.

MarinaK-sqTEDx speaker Marina K, a passionate advocate for people of all abilities, spoke at MSP in January.