When is being paralysed awesome?

When the dishes need doing!

Really, it’s true; I never have to do the dishes or housework, or put the bins out. Last time I did any of that was over 20 years ago.

Whenever we see somebody substantially less fortunate than ourselves, most of the time our first thought is how well they appear to cope with life. Then we immediately move on to ourselves and think “I couldn’t live like that.”

Of course, the reality is far more complicated than these two thoughts. We have no idea how any other person is coping, apart from a brief glimpse or snapshot view from the outside. Similarly we have no idea how we would cope in their situation because we can only compare what we would lose in regards to our current life.

I am severely disabled; I cannot feel or control anything below my chest or my elbows; I cannot walk or use my arms properly, and my hands are wobbly things at the end of my arms. Of course my disability comes with many other problems, but these are the things that people see and that they believe are my biggest problems. But my physical disability has not taken away my ability to think and to take a wider view of life. I realise what is important and why it is important. I broke my neck when I was 18, which made me mature overnight. Instead of seeing what I couldn’t do, I was just pleased to be alive and couldn’t wait to start my new journey.

I could list here all the things I cannot do, but I don’t. They are irrelevant to me. Just like the average person does not dream of walking through walls; I don’t spend time and energy thinking about the physically impossible.

So, sometimes I find myself counting my blessings regarding the things I cannot do; dishes, housework, cutting the grass, washing the car, other chores – the list goes on. At this point some of you are thinking “but surely you would love to do those things!” – well, no. For about a week maybe, I would soon get fed up with it just like everyone else.

I cannot help being paralysed, but my attitude is a choice

Would I do any of those things if I was given a magic hour where I could do anything? No, of course not, and I don’t think anyone would. What would I do in a magic hour? I have no idea, I haven’t thought about that for at least 10 years and cannot remember what my answer used to be. It is not going to happen, so why spend any time thinking about it? Don’t get me wrong, of course being paralysed can be a burden, it can be very frustrating and stops me doing some things I would love to do. But this is where it comes down to attitude. I do not spend my time focusing on what I cannot do.

When desire for what you cannot have turns into jealousy then it becomes damaging. We all know what jealousy does to a relationship; well it does the same to your relationship with the world and the people in it. Even if you convince yourself, or somebody else convinces you, that you have been short-changed and don’t deserve the hand you are dealt, it doesn’t mean a bad attitude will be accepted or tolerated for long. Have dreams and make goals that are possible, rather than focusing on “if only” situations that are never going to happen. There are only a few things that are truly unachievable, though. It is absolutely amazing what is possible if you use your imagination and focus your energy.

I cannot change being paralysed, but my attitude is a choice.

Posted in Peace of Mind

Steven Webb View posts by Steven Webb

I am a survivor, meditation and mindfulness coach. I have a stepdaughter and live in sunny Cornwall, UK. I broke my neck at the age of 18 which left me paralysed from the chest down with limited our movement.

16 thoughts on “When is being paralysed awesome?

  1. Reply
    Jacques V Schalkwyk (@jakalas01) - June 12, 2014

    I absolutely enjoy your site. It makes me even more grateful for what I do have.

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - June 12, 2014

      Hi Jacques,

      Thank you, yes we all have things we should appreciate but not always easy to see.

      Steven

  2. Reply
    Yolande - January 24, 2015

    Amazing post. Loved reading it. Helps a lot.

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - January 25, 2015

      Hi Yolande,

      Thank you for taking time out to read and comment.

      Very much appreciated.

      Steven

  3. Reply
    Karen Maskell - May 30, 2015

    Great blog Steven, Attitude is everything, like you I choose to be grateful for what I have and remain positive and open to possibilities. Your writing is inspirational and I am recommending your blog to the participants of our HealthMakers self management course, so keep up the great work !

  4. Reply
    Kirsti - June 2, 2015

    Well-written and insightful… thanks!

  5. Reply
    Susan Morin - April 12, 2016

    Steven, Your positive attitude fills my heart with sunshine!!

  6. Reply
    Anoop Alex - April 30, 2016

    Hi Steven,
    I tell myself your posts really connect with me but I have no idea what it is like to paralyzed. Even since I started believing that Freedom of Attitude is only true right we have(all others are given and so can be taken away) I tell myself that I can be content no matter what happens in my life. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. I believe this but dont know this. And it is easy to say this when your life is good.

    I live a very lucky life where I dont have to work, cook, clean etc. but I am a 37 year old man completely dependent on my parents. I have tried to work a few times but suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy so I either end up having a seizure(either psychosis or unconsciousness that ends up with me in an ICU). And if I just live a lazy life without doing anything, I amost never have seizures then. I used to hate myself for being a freeloader but now accept that, while my parents worry, I cannot break away from them. It may be different when I am alone but I suspect my family is already planning to put me into a Assisted Living community. I tell myself I can break away if I want then but I know I enjoy my life as is so I may not.

    I may not know paralysis but your posts give me insights into the attitude of one who has not let it defeat him. Thank you.

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - May 3, 2016

      Hello,

      Thank you for the comment, it is really appreciated. Freedom of Attitude, I love that I’ve never heard that before. You are absolutely right, it’s surprising how much liberation we get when we stop trying to fight the pain.

      It’s amazing how similar the way we see things. I very often come across people that have had quite a difficult time, especially when things don’t turn out how we planned them too.

      It’s really nice to hear you say about my posts, I spend quite a bit of time writing but not posting because I don’t think they’re any good. And I’m also learning to take compliments, so I’m going to say, thank you and bear this in mind.

      Really appreciate your story, our angst becomes our liberation.

      Much respect, Steven

  7. Reply
    Anoop Alex - May 5, 2016

    Glad you enjoyed the comment Steven. Do you mind telling me your spiritual position? I think it doesnt matter what we believe re God — we can be theist,atheist, Satanic or agnostic murderers and God’s love will still be available to us when we return to the spiritual world. But we may judge OURSELVES harshly. I think souls try to evolve themselves to be more like the infinite ideal of God who gives unconditional love without asking for anything. They may measure this by the decision of whether they have lived a material life based on love or let the fearful ego decide their action. Love can be both for oneself(not narcissism) and fellow souls in the material world.
    Personally I think you have shown love for yourself: by not letting quadriplegia defeat you(may have bad days but not given in to them)
    for others: by making effort, despite your disability, to make this site which must be a beacon of hope for so many

    Most of that was based on speculation after observing my reality however.

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - May 7, 2016

      We can only go by our own feelings and by what we witness as to be our relative truth. I’ve gone through phases, I was a Christian child going to Sunday school although I’m not sure how much it was for my benefit or my mum to have a break. I did have my almost atheist time of life, I say almost probably more agnostic because of course I could never prove there wasn’t a God and it would be ignorant to say there isn’t without proof.

      God to me is everything, not in a worshipping way. God is a single atom and the whole universe which includes every part of us, also consciousness itself. Everything that happens every present moment is, just is. It’s trying to make it into something understandable is when it becomes complicated. You could say God is the fundamental laws of physics and everything that comes out of that is the work of God which would include evolution, evolution of consciousness and time itself.

      But love, and more importantly unconditional true love not the love that hurts, because that’s not love. Love does not hurt anyone or anything, ever. I have no idea where I’m going with this, but essentially when we learn to love ourselves for who we have become because there is no way changing it, there is nothing we can do in this moment to be anything other than what we are. Learning to have compassion for ourselves is the greatest gift we can never have. We just need to learn to accept it.

      Thank you for your deep insight, really do appreciate it.

      1. Reply
        Anoop Alex - May 7, 2016

        Wow. That was just…..amazing beautiful. Spiritual really. Thank you for that.

  8. Reply
    Radha bhavyaa - June 3, 2016

    Suggestion! Please read about how breath plays an important role in our well-being,so does meditation,unconditional love,our passion , helping somebody in whichever possible way ( not as a doer but a source of the divine), keeping ourselves busy with constructive work and doing our duties…the list is endless…be it loving animals or the nature too…I also wish to say,we+soul) do live through our body and mind but paralysed are the small mindsets ( may God uplift them ,they are equally dear) physically disabled people have more divinity in them then the common abled people!

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - June 6, 2016

      Hello, yes the breath albeit for many years just happened for me now it is a grounding and truly plays a part in everyday life. Meditation and mindfulness, unconditional love and passion all come from a source of grounding and ultimately our breath.

      Anybody that has been through hardship has more chance of waking up and realising what life is about. However, it does not guarantee it. I know some disabled people just like able-bodied people that are still sleepwalking.

      Steven

  9. Reply
    Lesley McCadden - June 19, 2016

    I feel humble after reading this. You are a shining beacon through the darkest tunnel, raising hope where people feel there is none. I love your daily doses of wisdom and inspiration I feel you are with me each day spurring me on. Sincere wishes to you and your family. You are amazing

    1. Reply
      Steven Webb - June 28, 2016

      Hi Lesley,

      Thank you for that nice comment, really appreciate it. Hope you are having a great week, keep in touch.

      Steven

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