In this article I will share my personal experience with a disability and through my story, and one of a close friends, I will assess what we can and can’t do with our disabilities and relate this to a hardship you might be facing and how to over come this challenge with the right mindset.
What makes us who we are?
Is it how we were raised?
Is it how we behave in certain situations?
Is it our personality, or perhaps our religion?
Or is it our experiences that inevitably make up our character?
The reason I ask this broad question is because each and every single one of us will undergo challenges and I believe that how we deal with these situations and how we grow from these situations is what makes us who we are.
What if you recently tore a pec while training, or maybe you blew out an ACL right before playoffs? Maybe you were born with nerve damage or without an arm or a leg, or maybe you were born paralyzed. Some of these things may seem better than the others but I can tell you right now that it doesn’t matter what has happened to you or the time period you have to deal with these things; what does matter is how you grow from these hardships and how you push to be better given the circumstance you are in. The world does not hand out freebies to those dealing with things that may seem hard to deal with. We tend to attract more negative outcomes when bad things happen because our thoughts become reality. In the next paragraph I will dive deeper into personal experiences that me and people i’ve met have had regarding the struggle of life and making the best out of the cards we are dealt.
Muscular dystrophy is a disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass. This disability affects everyday life, especially when it affects the legs, and sometimes to the point of not being able to use them entirely. This affected one of my close high-school friends from birth. By the age of 12 he had undergone hundreds of surgeries and would often tell me the horror stories of laying up all night in a hospital bed feeling excruciating pain from the amount of surgeries he had to undergo through his childhood. This man lives his life in a wheelchair and to make matters even worse it also affected his left arm. But he wasn’t a sad person, he was often uplifting others. He never took any bullying from anyone and often he attracted people to be in his presence because of the sheer will he possessed when it came to the challenges he faced that many of us take for granted. He walked on his knees, crawled on his hands, pushed his wheelchair through the snow, but to top it off he accomplished something many of us could only dream. This man became the youngest player to receive a starting spot on the wheelchair basketball national team. He received media praise and was a Saskatchewan provincial hero for others in wheelchairs. Ever since he was a kid he put in the work to become a better basketball player, day in and day out he was striving to be the best he could be. Was he sitting at home crying to himself saying “Why me, why me, I don’t deserve this blah blah blah”? Of course not, he was out bettering himself and just by the sheer will in his character, it rubbed off on others to be better, including myself. I’m writing this article to get this story out, because I know how life changing that was for me and my wish is to show others. By this point i’m sure you’ve realized we will not be talking about corrective exercises, but instead the more important things that help us blow past the challenges we are given, even to the point of almost forgetting it exists at all.
In each and every single one of us there is an ego. An ego telling you to do good or bad things based on your ambitions in life. Some of us even fight against our ego, telling ourselves not to fall to these petty narcissistic views we may have. Not knowing that even fighting against the ego is egotistical. I’m here to tell you to use this to your advantage. Allow positive thoughts to enter the mind and drive us to become the most powerful version of ourselves given the circumstances. I was born with Erb’s Palsy, a nerve injury most common in birth that affects brain signals being sent to the muscle, it causes my left arm to be shorter, weaker, less mobile, and smaller in size. It can also affect the left side of my face, causing my left eye to droop and twitch. It affects any overhead activity like a pull-up. When I was younger I would go to doctors to help because I never knew what this injury even was, I had no name for it and people just thought I didn’t use my arm enough. I had doctors tell me to stick to office jobs and to never go into a career that involves heavy lifting. But this was a problem for me, I had something gnawing at me everyday telling me to do the exact opposite of what these doctors told me, that was my ego telling me to drop anyone that didn’t push me to be better and to focus all my energy into doing the exact opposite. I was 15 at the time and from that day forward I started exercising. The first day I stepped into the gym I picked up the heaviest dumbbell i could hold onto and started doing shrugs. It wasn’t the most useful exercise for my arm but that wasn’t the point, the point was that I was doing what I wanted to do, and at the time it was showing the doctors they were wrong and what I believed was right and no one could tell me otherwise. After high school I started work on the oilfield, while these doctors were giving terrible advice I was working gruelling 14 hour days lifting heavy and there wasn’t an office building in sight. After 2 years going from maintenance to rigs I had a near miss and was brought back to reality. After almost dying from a swinging pipe on a service rig I decided to move far from home and pursue my passion of helping others accomplish any goal they set for themselves and that’s exactly what I did. Now I am a powerlifter and personal trainer who teaches others how to be stronger versions of themselves no matter what holds them back. I would be nowhere without my ego, pushing me everyday to achieve a fraction of what my ancestors would accomplish in their harsh lives they had to live.
To conclude, I think it’s safe to say it doesn’t matter what holds you back. The fact you were able to go out and seek knowledge with your given circumstances tells me you are on the path to greatness. I don’t know how many will read this article but those that did and were able to take something away from it, I admire you. All i ask is that you continue to encourage others on their path to overcoming these obstacles we are faced with because let’s be honest, life is boring without hardships, these challenges are what makes us who we are and I wouldn’t have it any other way.