I can remember in the first few days in rehab some of my doubtful thoughts. I told my mom, “I’m not sure what’s gonna happen but this can’t be it because I’m not a person meant for a wheelchair”. This was my thought process because I was an athlete, I was active, and I loved running. I didn’t think I would figure out how to be in a wheelchair and be okay with it. But, I did. I somehow found a way to fight the doubt that I faced so early on.
I know there were also a few times in rehab when I thought the therapists were crazy. They expected me to do things I had never tried before. Popping a wheelie at the exact time needed to pop up on a curb. “WHO does that,” I thought. And my therapist didn’t say it with words, but I soon discovered it would be something I would do for the rest of my life.
There have been plenty of times in my life in which I doubted my ability to complete something. But the funny part is it has never really slowed me down. When I got in my accident my friends were all taken into the library of our high school and the teachers and staff talked to them and told them how much my life would be changed. How I would gain weight, be very depressed, never leave my house and how much support I was going to need. You know, I didn’t know about this conversation until months after my accident but if I would have known it sooner I think I would have worked a little bit harder. Simply because when people doubt me I want to prove them wrong as quickly as possible! That has been something I have learned to accept early on, a lot of people doubt the abilities of us that use a chair. I just so happen love proving people wrong, so I think it works out just as God intended.
Doubt is the one thing that holds us back in life the most. And thank God I had a great support system in my moments of doubting myself. The first time back in the water is a perfect example of this.
My friend Hali has always lived on our local lake and we spent many summers in the water all day long. Well, 18 years later it was my first time in the water without the use of my legs. This was probably the first time in my life that I let my fear show. I tried to beg my way out of it and even went to the links of saying I didn’t even wanna try. I was pretty open with my fear of dying also! Hali reassured me that I WAS going to try it and she would NOT let me die. Ugh, whatever friend, here we go! She carried me into the water and I was in full fear mode. Once she put me down into the water and we discovered I float I was the happiest person on the planet! I WON’T drown! I can float at the very least!
Now, here’s the lesson. Doubt leads to fear and fear can lead to not even trying. Thankfully, I have been blessed with people, such as Hali, in my life that have helped me overcome many of my doubts and fears. My sister has played a big role in trying new stuff, as well as my friend Justin. Without those people I wouldn’t have known I could swim, ski, ride a horse, be a passenger on a bike or enjoy skydiving like everyone else! It was the courage I gained from all those previous adventures that made me believe in myself that sent me on my first solo camping trip when so many people were doubting me.
Perspective plays a huge roll in all of our lives so I decided to get another opinion on how self doubt has affected others. I asked a fellow wheelchair user, an author, a coach, a good friend and the founder of SOAR his outlook on self-doubt. Brian said, “Everyone has some self-doubt no matter if you’re riding or walking. You must work hard at surprising self-doubt. Fill your mind with positive thoughts, optimism, and goals that move you forward. I choose to never let it define me, confine me, or refine me. I choose to move on and leave it behind me”. Brian Swift is one heck of an inspiration for me. If you don’t find a way to defeat self-doubt it drags you and your happiness down with it and comes with other issues.
Self-doubt leads to worry. That’s another thing for us to think about here. Worrying is pointless. Earlier this week I was talking to my friend who said something that really made me think. He said worrying is the same thing as thinking. I totally disagree with this. When you are worrying you are indeed thinking but you are thinking about an outcome or how something is gonna go. Now, every time you worry you think, true. But every time you think, you are not worrying. If you don’t agree with that let’s pull science into it. Every compound is a molecule, but not every molecule is a compound. If you don’t know the difference, molecules are made out of 2 or more atoms. Compounds are made out of 2 or more different atoms. It’s easy to see the difference right? Don’t confuse your thinking into worrying.
The problem is when we talk about doubt, fear, and worry the line is not so clear in seeing the differences. It is up to us to figure that out and gain an understanding. Doubt and fear hold us back because it bears more fear of us failing. Failing is a very scary thing. As an athlete in my early years, I was very competitive and I hated losing. Losing feels the very same as failing. I think it’s very safe to say that we all hate that feeling.
Self-doubt is based on fear. We have to learn to defeat that self-doubt in life and take chances. Failure will always exist. Every person on the planet will also experience it, so do your best not to fear it.
The best quote I can think of that sums this up comes from the basketball player Michael Jordan, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Without failure, no one would succeed. Not even you.
I also asked another fellow wheelchair user if he had anything to offer on this topic. I’ll admit he gave me a little more than I was hoping for, but he has a great message so I’m including all of it! Here is was Erik Kondo had to say.
“Doubt is the outgrowth of negative thoughts. Negative thoughts hinder your ability to perform and lead to failure. But negative thoughts cannot simply be eliminated, they need to be replaced with positive thoughts.
In many circumstances, you can focus on either positive or negative outcomes. By focusing on the positive, you leave less room for negative thoughts to enter into your head.
Rational negative thoughts have their place. Their purpose is to warn you of potential pitfalls. When I am doing something risky such a riding my electric skateboard from my wheelchair, I “see” the future dangers in my mind’s eye. The cars and bikers that could hit me, the cracks that could flip me, the places where I could lose my balance and crash, and many more hazards. These thoughts warn me of what could happen if I am not careful. But too many of these thoughts will destroy my confidence and hinder my performance. They will cause me to fail.
I don’t try to force the negative thoughts away, but I focus on the joy of my mobility experience. The thrill of speeding down a bike path while balancing on a skateboard. The fun of doing what most people don’t think is possible. My goal is to make my negative thoughts rational and my positive ones emotional. This is the opposite state of self-induced failure which many times is the result of negative emotions that overwhelms positive thinking.
It’s not just about thinking positive, you have to “be” positive to succeed.”
To sum things up, don’t be afraid of failure and don’t get caught up in the negative thoughts of the world; especially those of your own. Be the positive someone else may need. Not only will you be helping others but you will be helping yourself as well.
If I would have never went swimming that day at the lake I would have missed out on some of my favorite memories. Thank goodness I had people around me fighting my doubt for me then which taught me the importance of fighting my own doubts now.