Defining yourself – on your terms – and feel empowered by for what you have to offer.

As we scratch deeper into acceptance of yourself, your disability, and it’s presence in your life, please remember the strong connection between acceptance and comfort with yourself.

When you grow in acceptance, you relax more into exactly who you are as you are. You then begin to define yourself more and more by your strengths, qualities, and even idiosyncrasies. And your disability may or may not shape these aspects.

When you live with a disability, I believe on some extent people, whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, will try to define you based on your disability. You have cerebral palsy, so you must (fill in the blank). Or people with autism usually do such and such. Maybe it’s if you’re use a wheelchair, then this is what your life must be like.

For the most part, I don’t believe people are malicious about it. I think it’s a lack of exposure to the diversity of abilities.

Acceptance is so much about discovering who you are, often by trial, error, struggle, and triumph, rather than accepting the beliefs others have of you.

This is where the feeling of empowerment begins. There’s no need to defend yourself against the perception of others. Instead focus on how you want others to see you. The more attention you give to who you are and your truth, the more others will too.

Begin defining yourself by what you can do, what you enjoy, and what interest you. This is how we transform historical, often negative, perspectives on disabilities, which have been damaging, into a sense of self-acceptance for exactly who you are, the way you are. This is a process, but with supportive people and/or resources, you can get there.

Take on the attitude of living with a difference in ability. Focus on the living life – having fun, doing what you want, reaching for dreams. This is about showing the world what you have to offer, not just talking about it. For example, if you want to get more involve socially, put yourself out there, join groups, begin a group, get on the computer, do/create what you love, date. Live life.

Yes, there are challenges to this, but first believe you can do it and then ask for help in doing it, if needed. I know that going for these things can feel scary at times. Acknowledge that you’re taking a risk. You may feel scared, but take a deep breath and do it anyway!

If you feel like you need some help in defining yourself, click here for a free mini-training.

Remember that defining yourself is largely about self acceptance, comfort with yourself. When you are able to accept and embrace who you are and the magnificence your disability brings into your life, this becomes the best form of advocacy. It sends a crisp, clear message of “I am here and I belong.”

I’ll be live on Facebook tonight at 8pm (EST) to talk about this and have it be an interactive discussion. Tune in, share your thoughts, or message me on Facebook ahead of time.