Beating the Odds in Your Favor

Beating the Odds in Your Favor

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

How did Christopher Reeve accomplish the impossible?

By believing that it's possible!

Nothing Is Impossible: Reflections On New Life, the latest book by Christopher Reeve provides some insights into how he accomplished what seemed almost impossible.

After the injury, Reeve was informed by his neurologists that it was impossible for signals from the brain to get past the second vertebrae of the neck. Death from degeneration and decay appeared certain.

But, they didn't take into account Reeve's unwavering determination to "stand (and walk) and deliver."

When we can't perform a function we all take for granted, self-worth may be the first casualty. Beware of such attitudes as, "I am useless and such a life is not acceptable to me" or, "I can't accept the idea of becoming dependent on others forever." Don't be self-critical of how you walk, talk or look. You must always believe in your worth as a person.

Reeve has demonstrated that in spite of being washed and wiped by another, you can respect yourself. Respect yourself because you are still you.

After the injury, Reeve's wife said to him, "You are still you and I love you." Be a solid support and strength for your loved one, but don't pamper and don't think "Oh, poor you!" Push loved ones to push themselves.

Go into a problem-solving mode to find means to circumvent loss of function. An example is found in the way Reeve was asked to partly deflate the tube in his trachea, which allowed him to get his voice out instead of uttering the words in his mouth.

Adjust and adapt to challenges without getting caught up in anger, frustration of self-pity.

Help others with special needs. Be an advocate for them. Raise the spirits of those who have just received a devastating diagnosis and are still in a state of shock and despair.

When things are really bad, you must find the strength to laugh. You can deal with anger, self-pity and despair by laughing at yourself. Reeve says, "Jokes about the wheelchair helped defuse my anger about being in one." It doesn't matter if you are not that funny, try humor anyway.

Use the power of the mind to heal and strengthen the body. Believe that mind has such a power.

Keep yourself involved with people around you. Maintain your role as a parent, spouse or a child to the best of your ability. For example, you can still function in your role as a father even though you might not be able to pick up your children, bounce them on your knee or run through the yard with them. Stay interested in the daily lives of your loved ones.

The feeling that God is punishing you can sometime weaken your faith. Don't let it. Your faith can be one of your most powerful supports.

If insurance claims are denied. Fight back. Only thirty percent do. The other seventy percent don't even try. If you have to fight, do it tactfully. Be patient and persistent.

Be bold and risk failure. Reeve would look at his finger, establish the mental connection with the finger and ask it to move. The finger one day obeyed the command. In addition to the power of the mind, it shows courage. If Reeve had been afraid of making a fool of himself, he would never have tried.

You have to work hard at it. Hard work pays off. Reeve did three to four hours of daily rehabilitation exercises, plus the mental effort round the clock. You need to put in that level of effort day after day, perhaps forever.

Forgive those who failed to act according to your expectations. Instead of obsessing over what should've, could've or might have been, work with what is.

Many health professionals don't want to give "false hope." But who determines what is "false?" Medical breakthroughs, spontaneous recoveries and miracles are real. Hope can just help you access the incredible. But, in order to keep hope alive, you must endure and work hard.

This is what Reeve says about hope in Nothing Is Impossible: "When we have hope, we discover the powers within ourselves we may have never known-the power to make sacrifices, to endure, to heal and to love. Once we choose hope, everything is possible."

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2002, Mind Publications 
Posted November 2002


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