A few days ago I graduated and it turned out to be a turning point for me. For several weeks I had been in physical therapy developing abilities I needed to get the most out of a prosthesis. I worked on my balance and under the supervision of trained professionals expanded my prosthetic skills. I came into therapy leaning on a walker and through therapy had moved on to a simple cane. Then, as part of my graduation, I needed to show I could walk through the whole building without relying on a cane. Knowing what I could do, I didn’t just walk those halls, I moved so fast my therapists had trouble keeping up with me. To sum it up I graduated with a score of “excellent” and a private judgment from my teachers that my accomplishment was nothing short of “astounding”.
It is amazing what a bit of validation can do. Up to that day, I was afraid of slopes. But now I was a proud graduate of prosthetic school so the next morning I walked down our steep driveway and brought the newspaper into the house. I used to think I couldn’t carry a plate or even a cup without losing my balance. Now as a certified expert walker I take heavy garbage bags out to the container and almost never go anyplace without something in my hand.
Part of this is the result of hard work. Therapy boosted my confidence because it increased my strength. I spent a lot of time on full body machines of the kind you can find in any gym or buy for home use. I’ve discovered that there is a direct link between the strength of body and confidence of mind. I can stretch my skills now because my body assures me that I can do just about anything I want to do.
But an equally important part of all this is that incredible power of affirmation. Appreciation, recognition, and applause have a deep impact on our lives. I was lucky to be in a situation where I could receive some of that. But I know many of us don’t hear much applause at home, work or anywhere else. However, there is one thing we can all do for ourselves. We can tune out voices that attack, demean and demoralize us, especially those we generate in our own heads. We can instead tune in on positive messages and start generating plenty of those on our own. I live by a simple rule; it goes like this:
“My name is not what you call me, my name is what I answer to.”
When a negative or demeaning name is hurled at me by others or even invades my own self-talk, I just let it slide away. Instead, I embrace and remember everything that is full of encouragement because as far as I’m concerned messages like that have been sent to the right address. Living by that simple rule I graduate as “excellent,” “astounding” or something even better every single day and, as a result, my confidence and with it, my capabilities grow constantly. I invite you to try my simple rule.