I was my 30s with three young children and a holistic therapy career I loved when I found myself in the middle of a line of crashed cars and in seconds everything changed. I sustained some spinal injuries which exacerbated a pre-existing health condition and suddenly I didn’t know who I was anymore.
What do you say when people ask who you are? I used to say Kinesiologist, runner, active mum, avid dog walker but all that I thought I was had been stripped away and I didn’t know how to respond. Disabled? Wheelchair user? Unemployed? Labels I didn’t want, and yet I had happily labelled myself before with words I felt were positive descriptions.
I realised that despite my previous work and the advice I gave to clients I was a classic case of what I call ‘what if’ syndrome. “What if I don’t get any more clients”, “What if my boyfriend doesn’t love me anymore”, “What if my children are bullied at school”? I had spent a huge proportion of my life anxiously obsessing about things that could go wrong in the future and actually, somewhere along the line, forgotten to fully live. The car accident, ironically, was something I hadn’t spent hours worrying might happen but it had, wow, so how to deal with it?
My body had changed and my pain levels were high but I knew enough about the mind/body connection to realise I had a choice here. I could choose to re-label myself in some derogatory way, thereby giving up on myself or I could work on my emotional health knowing that, ultimately, it would impact on my physical symptoms. I thought how I would react if it was a friend or a family member in my position. I knew I would be caring, compassionate, patient and understanding. Hmm so the little voice in my head telling me I was useless, a burden and had no purpose now had to go. I needed to be as loving towards myself as I was to others, easy to say, harder to put into practice.
I spent hours meditating, exploring my own consciousness and learning to just Be and little by little began to feel stronger and positive about the future. The essence of me still remained, the packaging now was just a little different is all.
When I was at my lowest I came across the story of The Starfish Thrower which was a pivotal turning point for me. For those of you who don’t know it; a boy is walking along the beach when he stumbles across thousands of starfish that have been washed up. He starts to pick them up and throw them back in. A man approaches him and says “son don’t bother, there are too many, you won’t make a difference”. The boy picks up another, throws it back in and says “I made a difference to that one”.
I read this and thought, wow, I don’t have to do anything amazing to make a difference. I don’t even have to actually be mobile. It’s the tiniest thing that can make a change. For the first time in a long time I felt a flicker of hope and I didn’t intend to let it extinguish.
I now hope to share all the things I have found which, despite my high pain levels, enable me to lead a happy, positive life from a fulfilled heart and a peaceful mind.
The tips below got me through a really tough time, live by them and you too will see that you really can cope with whatever is thrown at you.
1) Love yourself like you love others.
2) You can’t change things that have happened to you but you can choose the way you feel about them.
3) You really can survive anything. We are all stronger than we think.
4) There is absolutely no point worrying about the future at all. Think back to situations you have envisaged and fretted over. Did they actually happen? No, probably not. We can’t predict forthcoming events and it is a waste of energy to even try.
5) Don’t label things ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Although my accident seemed unfair and tragic at the time I have grown so much as a person, have a new business and have found love. Light always follows darkness. Trust me on that.
6) Stay in the present moment and live life fully. You never know when, if, or how drastically things can change in a heartbeat. Appreciate what you have right now.
7) Live is an adventure, don’t fear it; live it.
Louise Jensen is an award winning Kinesiologist and is certified in many therapies, including the Mind Detox Method (as featured on Discovery Health) where she graduated from the Mind Detox Academy in record time. A regular writer, Louise has overcome living with a disability and has 12 years’ experience in helping others to heal. In 2012 Louise co-created The Happy Starfish, an online community dedicated to celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living.