Sometimes, no matter how optimistic you try to be, and no matter how hard you try to put a positive spin on things, living with MS just sucks. Those are the days that you need to dig deep within yourself to find some inner strength and believe in yourself. Trust that you are strong enough to get through difficult times. Think back on the struggles that you have had in the past and how you pushed through them. Remind yourself that you have done it before, and you can do it again. Focus on your strengths, what you are grateful for and what brings you joy. Don’t listen to any negative self-talk that usually arises because of fear or uncertainty. Trust the little voice inside that is telling you to step out of your comfort zone. Amazing things can happen in that place of new opportunity.
If you fail or have a bad day; you will be okay. You may learn that you are stronger than you think you are. This will help build confidence and self-trust. If you need a little inspiration, think of someone that you admire who is a good example of self- determination, self- confidence and perseverance.
Whenever I need to motivate myself, I think of an elderly couple I once saw that reminded me that giving up is not an option:
A few years ago, I broke my back and I could do very little without intense pain. I began having panic attacks for the first time in my life, feeling claustrophobic from the constrictive back brace. Being immobile caused stiffness and muscle spasms, which led to insomnia. It was a dark time. All I wanted to do was get outside in the sunshine and take a walk.
When I was finally cleared to go for a walk I was still in the brace and having a lot of pain. I couldn’t drive so my mom drove me to a nearby park. I was so excited to get outside but wasn’t sure if I could walk for more than a couple of minutes at a time. I began very slowly and felt every step. The back brace was digging into my ribs making it hard to breathe. I felt wobbly and uncertain. I worried that I was going to hurt my back or make things worse. I made it almost one lap around the track and I had pretty much talked myself out of going any farther. I couldn’t take another step.
A car pulled up and an old man got out. He went over to the passenger side of his car and opened the door. He was taking a really long time and I was starting to wonder if he was okay. As I got closer to the parking lot, I saw what he was doing. He was helping an old woman out of the car. The lady could barely stand on her own. This couple was tiny of stature and frail-looking but this man literally held up his wife and lifted her up onto his feet.
My mind flashed back to my childhood and I knew instantly what he was doing. When I was really little, my father would stand me on his feet and take me for a walk around the house. This man was going to walk for his wife because she couldn’t. I was entranced. The couple faced one another, and while the man held on to his wife, they began to walk. The man walked backward, and painstakingly slow, around the entire track. Occasionally they would stop for the woman to take a break and each time she would turn towards the car, obviously wanting to leave. The man would speak quietly to her, clearly encouraging her. The woman walked on. This man had complete faith in his wife, and she responded by having faith in herself. It was the most beautiful show of love and personal strength that I have ever witnessed. This woman had complete trust in her husband that he would not let go of her, and the man’s devotion never wavered. She took strength from him and you could almost see her gathering hers. She would take a deep breath, check the placement of her feet on his, and take another step. She believed in herself and because she did, she accomplished her goal.
When they finished, I nearly cheered. Their walk was truly the most inspirational thing I have ever seen in my life. I finished my walk. I thought if that lady could do it, so could I. Now, if I have a day when I feel giving up, I think of that couple and I’m reminded if you believe in yourself anything is possible.
We can’t always control what happens in life, but we can decide how we will react to it. What experiences or personal qualities do you draw from when you need to feel strong and confident? What inspires you to be your best self? Is there a person, place, memento or mantra that centers and motivates you? What do you want your life to look like? Your answers are the things that shape you, define you, and help propel you forward.
What gives you inner strength?