Lessons in Reflection

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on October 17, 2022 # Lifestyle

My disability and my life after acquiring it has taught me a lot about patience, self-growth, and self-love. Most of those lessons weren’t ones I necessarily wanted to learn, but most of us can attest to life has an annoying way of disregarding our timelines.

My biggest takeaway is learning how to take care of myself – physically, emotionally, and relationally. That means knowing when and how far to push myself toward a goal; how to support my psyche in the process; and how to show up well to myself and other people. I’m about to give you years and years’ worth of my trial and error, for free.

My lessons can be boiled down to the questions I ask myself and reflect on, depending on the situation in front of me.

1. How much is enough? Our culture encourages a mindset of “give me more,” but how much more do you really need? Most of us live our days in the result of chasing something: money, nourishment, community, comfort, and acceptance. I’m not saying any of that is bad or not worthy of your pursuit, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. What are you willing to compromise in pursuit of what you want? Are you willing to be content with what you already have?

2. Will my anger make this better or worse? Roman philosopher Seneca taught that “Delay is the best remedy for anger,” and boy, does that still ring true. Next time you feel yourself getting angry, try asking yourself, “Is my anger going to fix the problem? Is it worth my energy?” Those might be impossible reflections in the heat of the moment, but if you make a habit of stepping away to reflect before you lash out, you’ll at least be able to more clearly discern the conflict.

3. Are you being a friend to yourself? My dog, Achilles, injured her paw from jumping off my lap while I was rolling downhill. It was an accident that she hopefully learned from, but a bloody one that landed us in the vet’s office. Please believe I blamed myself for her wound for a day (I shouldn’t have been going so fast, I shouldn’t have put on her leash, I shouldn’t have taken her for a walk) before my husband told me to “STOP.” Treating myself like a friend, for that example, would mean giving myself grace, having patience, and not following myself with a trail of negative self-talk.

4. Why are you acting like you’ll live forever? I’m not as much saying “life is short!” as I’m saying “stop wasting time!” I recognize that procrastination is fun, and it’s sometimes necessary to spend an afternoon in front of the television but be careful not to make either a habit. Give yourself the rest and comfortability you need, but not at the expense of your body or mind.

5. Is it worth it? This question hit my cord recently: Just today, I was in conversation with a friend who said something so aggravating. And I could have told her as much. I gave myself a good ‘ole’ “is it worth it?” and decided, “no, definitely not.” As she kept talking, I realized I’d jumped to a conclusion and misunderstood her. If I’d gone on and called her out for it, it would have been my bad. For your peace of mind’s sake, don’t waste your energy on unproductivity.

My accident, paralysis, and entrance into the world of disability have taught me many lessons about myself and how to appear in the world. It’s funny how traumatic life circumstances can do that, right? The best way I’m able to apply my wisdom is to take time to reflect on what’s happening and my reaction to it, before I act.

Easy to say, very hard to do. With some practice, though, it gets easier. This is a lesson in self-growth and self-control. Thank God for the traumatic things to help get us there.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.