. Rtor.org is pleased to have disability advocate Michael De Rosa guest blogging on the site today. Michael is editor of the website dismantlingdisABILITIES.com and author of the soon to be published self-help workbook “Unlimited Potential: empowerment tools at your finger tips.” His lived experience with anxiety and other disabilities, along with his Christian faith, have enabled him to overcome adversity in his own life to help others in similar circumstances.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has identified Eight Dimensions of Wellness for mental health, which includes Spirituality: “expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life.” Although rtor.org is a non-religious and non-denominational not-for-profit organization, we recognize the central importance of spirituality in many people’s recovery and are pleased to share Michael’s unique perspective on the quality of Persistence in facing the challenges of disability.
Jay Boll, Editor in Chief
Three Little Known Facts About Persistence
Persistence is defined as tenacity, determination, tirelessness, doggedness. It is a word that conjures up intensity of focus and drive.
It is a word that I, unwittingly, dismissed for too many years, but now wholeheartedly embrace.
For now, though, I want to draw your attention to 3 facts about persistence that helped me get a new lease on life.
1. Persistence Is Acquired, NOT Inherited
When I was a child, I wondered what it would be like not to have been born with the speech impediment that some peers used mercilessly against me.
But being born ‘the right way’ (whatever that is?!) does not necessarily yield success. Rather, persistence yields success. And, if you hang on long enough, and with enough determination, you will succeed. Lack of persistence is why so few people keep their New Year’s resolutions.
It is not ability, but attitude, determination, grit, that gets people to the finish line.
For me, I awoke to this reality when I became a Christian and learned one unshakeable truth that has since kept me tenacious in living life the best I can: God created me on purpose and for a purpose. (Ephesians 2:10)
Yes, in spite of my speech impediment which snowballed into a deficit of social skills, I know that all this does not thwart God’s plan for me, and – dare I say – it is because of these very ‘problems’ that I am now working in a field that I thoroughly enjoy.
2. Persistence Cannot Be Faked
I have heard some speakers tell their audiences ‘fake it until you make it’. My question to them would be what happens to the real you along the way if you fake it? Who, then, do you become?
I have learned that when we accept ourselves as we are, we will then know what we need to be persistent. For some, additional supports from peers or professionals may be needed to help them move towards their tasks; for others, they may need to withdraw a lot to rethink their strategies.
For me, accepting my limitations meant finding a very supportive group of forward thinking people to assist me in keeping my nose to the grindstone as I moved ahead.
Just be yourself – don’t fake it.
Now the reasons for faking it are as numerous as there are people actually doing it, but here are some to consider:
- We are afraid of others’ disapproval.
- We want to reach our goal more quickly.
- We believe that because someone else did it a certain way, we can do it too.
So, instead of being someone you were never meant to be, consider this quote from Mark Twain, which motivates us towards celebrating our individuality:
“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Regardless, though, be yourself (everyone else is taken!).
3. Persistence Breeds Success
If you hang on long enough, keeping your focus zeroed in on your goal, there will be payoffs!
For me, I have found that instead of lamenting over my past speech impediment and deficit in social skills that manifested itself in a diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder, I readily embrace these ‘problems’ because I have discovered that it makes me the person I am today… and that is motivating. Let me explain.
My speech impediment gives me a natural empathy to be with people who don’t talk, like someone with severe Autism, or who have very disorganized speech, like someone with schizophrenia.
My anxiety caused me to become a very slow learner as I always wanted to understand things perfectly before proceeding to the next lesson. Because of this, I am a fairly good teacher, being able to easily break lessons down to a level that my students/clients can more readily grasp.
Remember this: While ability is not a guarantee for success, your disabilities don’t mean failure.
A Story of Equals
I have heard a very wise saying and it goes like this: ‘Show me one person with a mental illness, and I will show you ONE person with a mental illness.
Don’t let a mental illness stop you from forging ahead. While my anxiety is mild, it does occasionally flare up and I need to take inventory of what to do next. Yet I can push through because of my belief that God’s plan will continue to trump any obstacle I face. These convictions help me to help others as I see them taking steps forward too.
Again, persistence was key.
You were meant to be a success story. Because of my experience, I am soon going to launch a workbook, Unlimited Potential: Empowerment Tools at Your Finger Tips, that focuses on the life skills of attitude, communication, and goal setting.
– Michael De Rosa
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