A person sits in a chair with their eyes closed while lines of colors symbolizing emotions swirl around them.

Personal Growth

Being born with a genetic disorder like spinal muscular atrophy forces us to adapt to a world that wasn’t built for disabled people.

As a child, we experience this from an early age. Most childhood friendships are formed while playing. When a child is disabled, they are often unable to participate like able-bodied children. This is where we are forced to adapt and, hopefully you have strong parents who can support and teach you how to do this. It’s different for everyone.

Learning to adapt at an early age creates resilience

I know that these can be difficult experiences from a young age. However, if you start learning how to adapt, it can cultivate a resilience that will help you throughout your life. My parents did a really good job with encouraging me to try my best and not giving up. I know I can always improve on trying my best. Their encouragement has helped shape the person I am today.

One of the hardest things, in my opinion, is changing your mindset. When we are forced to deal with a physical disability, it can be just as taxing, if not more so, on our mental health.

Fighting a negative mindset

As my condition progressed over the years, I have had to fight the negative feelings and anger that I felt inside. It can be really easy to wallow in self-pity. I have done this. It can be hard work to refocus those feelings into a positive light. I remind myself of all that I am grateful for and focus on what I am still able to do.

Happiness comes from being content with myself

Focusing on what you are able to do will help you find your purpose. I think it’s human nature to want to compare our lives with someone else’s. Over time I have learned that my happiness comes from being content with myself. There will always be lots of things that I will never be able to do. However there are more than enough things that I can do. Quite frankly I will never be able to do all of them. Everyone needs a purpose. Focus your energy on what you want your purpose to be.

The ability to control my emotions

One area where I think I excel is emotional intelligence. Living with this disability for over 40 years has forced me to always be in control of my emotions. Depending on how you look at it, I never had the luxury of having a temper. When you require physical assistance to get through your day you are forced to be nice.

Luckily for me, I think I tend to be a pretty upbeat person.  However, there are times where I’ve wanted to blow my top. Not allowing myself to be angry has helped me control my emotions. This has also helped me become a more empathetic person. We can learn from trying to see things from someone else’s perspective.

Building relationships

Lastly we can learn a lot about ourselves by building relationships. Being vulnerable can sometimes create deeper relationships. That can be a scary thing at first but once you start opening yourself up to others you will realize that most people are very relatable.

These are some of the ways that I have used my disability for my own personal growth. It’s an ongoing journey with ups and downs but I am grateful for the experience.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SpinalMuscularAtrophy.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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