As an international speaker, I have the opportunity and the privilege to share with various groups, companies and organisations about what I have learnt and garnered through the experience I have had as a stroke survivor (17 years) using the keynotes and workshops that I deliver. Very so often, during the Q & A’s or the breaks, people will come up and ask about my family and till date, many people still give me the amazing look when they find out that I am able to start a family considering I had my stroke relatively young at the age of 24.
In many of my talks I spread the message that our disability is only in the mind and that we are never defined by what happens to us but rather, how we respond to the situations that happen in our lives. When it comes to love, I view it as a word. In fact the English language terms it as a verb. In other words, it is an action word. Which means we have to actively respond in order to express love in a meaningful manner to those that matter to us.
Even as a youth growing up even before I suffered the stroke, I knew I wanted to have a family with a wife to love and children to cherish. And in order to do that, I knew that the most important pursuit towards that goal is to be completely whole and uniquely wholesome. In fact wholesomeness is the foundation of all relationships and that includes the relationship we have with our spouse. In fact, how we get along with different members of the family is totally dependent on how wholesome we are as individuals. After all, our wholeness determines the quality of our relationships; be it personal, social or professional.
I have found that any difficulties we may have in our relationships with our spouse or other members of the family, very often, is NOT due to the stroke or any other disability we may have; rather it can be traced a wholeness issue, or rather a lack of wholeness.
I have realised throughout the conversations I have had that the most important relationship is not inter-relationship but intra-relationship. The most important relationship we should aim to cultivate is that which is within ourselves. This is because the better the knowledge we have of ourselves, the better we understand who we are.
Hence, the most important person to love is you!
Yet as stroke survivors, many of us may have a feeling of inadequacy due to the brain attack which may have left us physically disabled and cognitively not as sharp as before. I had to grapple with my sense of inadequacy as well until I discover the truth and that is, disability is only in the mind. We are not defined by what we cannot do; we are defined by what we can do with what we have. Whatever we perceive, we conceive; and whatever we conceive ultimately becomes our reality.
Our self-perception and self-conception is vital to how we relate to those dear to us. To the degree we are able to love ourselves is that degree we are able to love others. For everyone, including stroke survivors, the key question is never about “Do you still love me?” but that of “Do I still love myself?” After all, it is important that we are able to love ourselves before we can love anyone else.
I believe one of the best way to generate and garner that sense self-worth is to know that we are all positioned to be person of influence to those that is around us. Using words and deliberate actions, we all can still be an impact to those around us and as long we are intentionally creating positive value, we can always make the day a better and brighter day to our loved ones.