by Lisa Cybaniak
What are you capable of? It may sound strange to hear, but most of us have no idea what our strengths and talents are, therefore what we’re capable of.
Take for instance, if you’re diagnosed with a disability or serious illness. Nearly every single piece of information you’ll find about living your life with this condition will outline everything you can’t do. But what about everything you CAN do?
Today we’re talking about all the things we tell ourselves we can’t do, instead of discovering what we’re actually capable of doing. Our minds effectively hold the key for the transition we’re looking to make here, going from “I can’t” to “Oh yeah? Watch me!”
Elaine Hopkins is a writer, speaker, coach, hypnotherapist and walker. She’s also living with dyspraxia, a condition that affects her coordination, balance, memory and speech.
Meet Elaine Hopkins
Elaine didn’t discover she had dyspraxia until she was 59. That meant that she was always confused and viewed all her symptoms as her being incapable and stupid, making her feel ashamed.
That is, until a chance remark by a neuroscience professor changed her life forever, prompting her to explore and change her relationship with her dyspraxia, and herself, by going on a 500 km hike!
Six years and 5,000 km later, Elaine is no longer confused. On her transformative path, she realised she was holding herself back when she didn’t need to. Yes, her dyspraxia comes with challenges, but after walking 2,000 km by herself without a map, she realised life is for living, not for being coped with. Elaine now spends her time walking, writing and speaking in her quest to spread the word that we can all be more than our labels and conditions; we are capable of far more than we give ourselves credit for.
Are you excited to learn what those words were that changed Elaine’s life? Will they change yours? I can’t wait for you to find out!
So, let’s dive right in!
What’s happening around you?
Elaine’s first tip for finding what you’re capable of is to take a realty check by noticing what’s happening all around you and asking if you’re really the only one. You know what we mean, right? Elaine realised doing this step that she’s not the only person in the world who falls over or bumps into things. Whatever your excuse for holding yourself back, be real about it – are you really the only one?
Know your strengths
This is what you’ve been waiting for – the words Elaine heard from her neuroscience professor that changed her life: Whenever there’s a deficit in one part of the brain, there will be a compensating abundance in another. That means that for all the things you can’t do, or don’t do well, there are just as many things that you are talented at. Find out what your strengths are.
Time for something different?
When you find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?”, it’s time to replace it with a better question, “Is there something I could be doing different?” Listen to your gut as it knows what to do. For example, Elaine couldn’t even walk 15 minutes to the underground, but she just knew she needed to walk a 500 km trail in Spain! But with chronic back pain and migraines, she was far from feeling she was capable of this. So, she started training with others, first for 5 miles, and then 50. Before she knew it, Elaine walked 40 km in one day!
Listen to the signs around you
There are always people or experiences all around you that can help you in various ways. For Elaine, it was meeting an American woman on her first day of attempting to complete the Camino walk, who not only is a coach, by also has dyspraxia! They ended up walking together for 20 days, offering companionship for them both during their incredible challenge. Also, spending time with someone else with dyspraxia allowed Elaine to soften her perspective on the condition, including her views of herself with dyspraxia. Instead of feeling ashamed about her clumsiness, she can now laugh at herself. Now that’s amazing!
One of the issues Elaine had for over 59 years was knowing her right from her left, which is one of the many symptoms of the dyspraxia. But after walking the trail for 20 days, seeing the right and left arrowed signs, she discovered new neural pathways had formed in her brain. Without any warning, Elaine realised one random day that she now instinctively knows her left from her right!
Ditch the labels
We are more than these labels we place on ourselves, or that others place on us. Whatever “it” is, it doesn’t need to define you. You don’t need to identify with it. Just because the support sites or medical information available to Elaine on her dyspraxia all focus on what she cannot do, doesn’t mean she has to allow that to define her. She chooses to focus on everything she can do – her strengths.
Stop coping with your life
Elaine has one of the best expressions I’ve heard in a long time: Life is for living, not for being coped with. How true is that? We don’t need to be living our lives in a confined way. There’s nothing wrong with us, just the way we are!
More from this episode
Along with so much more detail in each of the above steps, Elaine also shares her steps for moving forward, including changing the conversation you’re having in your head.
Whatever that voice in your head is telling you, it’s your choice to listen or prove her wrong. You can change the narrative, including the tone you’re using for yourself, challenge those negative thoughts, and learn to genuinely laugh at yourself.
So, what’s stopping you?
Press play on the episode above – you don’t want to miss this!
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Voice over credit: Shari Vandermolen. Shari is offering a free download of one of her songs to the fans of the Life Like You Mean It podcast! Just visit www.GiftFromShari.com and tell her where to send it. Shari’s debut album is available for streaming on all the major platforms including Spotify and iTunes.
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