Picking (Winning!) Compromises

It's no secret that I am terrible at asking for help. Admitting that I need assistance or that I just don't know something flies into direct conflict with my stubbornly independent personality. Do I like making things more difficult for myself? No, of course not! But in the moment when I have the choice between opening the door on my own or pushing the automatic button, or asking someone to get the book off the highest shelf vs. climbing on top of my wheelchair... for some reason the route that involves only myself accomplishing the task is way more appealing. This is all despite the fact that I know the consequences of not seeking help could potentially be physically painful. Sorry, parents! 

Some part of me probably wants to prove over and over again that I can do things on my own, regardless of how difficult it may be. But I would like to think that at this point in my life I no longer need that egotistical reassurance - please - someone who is older & wiser tell me otherwise! Another part of me probably dislikes seeming helpless or weak, even though I know, I know, I know realizing that I need help and acting on that takes great strength. But like I said - when I'm in the moment it's just so hard to resist that urge..! Recently I was talking to someone who is older and also a wheelchair user (non-OI'er) about getting assistance, and he phrased it in a different way for me (re-phrasing here): "You could see asking for help as a compromise, and you'll realize that you need to make certain compromises in order to focus your energy and attention on doing other things you care about better." 
Compromise. This isn't a concept that anyone is new to, we are all making compromises everyday in our decisions. For someone with a disability these compromises might be a little more apparent and visible than others. An example of this is when I decided to not press the automatic button that opened the extremely heavy door, and as it closed it slammed back into me and thereby fracturing my arm. So when he talked to me about making compromises to avoid consequences that detracts from my ability to do things I care about, I understood right away. I certainly could have done without spending physical energy on healing, and without the time that I spent at the hospital if I had just...push...the damn button...

But still, this doesn't mean that I now know how to pick and choose my compromises. It would be unrealistic to ask myself to always choose to compromise because I know that's just not within my personality. Being able to make small (or big) lifestyle changes, and especially if you would like to be successful at these changes requires realistic goal setting. Telling myself that I'm going to ask for help every time it's available is just not going to happen, I'll probably just fail myself. However, here are a few things that I have decided to do or at the very least keep in mind so that I am aware:

  • Value my ego. Everyone has an ego and whether or not we are inflating or deflating our egos has a lot to do with the choices we make. I could inflate my ego by making decisions that add value to it, or I could deflate my ego by cheapening the value - forgoing assistance just for the sake of proving to myself I can accomplish small day-to-day tasks. Telling myself: Sandy, no one is going to hand you a cookie because you figured out how to open the door while holding a drink and driving your chair. (Cookies are a good motivator!)
  • Determine my goal. I should think about whether or not the task I need help with is my end goal, or is the task that I need help with just a step along the way to reach my end goal? This difference means that I can remind myself what is important for me to actually accomplish. 
  • Value my time. Similarly to determining my goal, this mean that I spend less time doing things that I don't need to be doing vs. utilizing that time to work on things that I will learn more from. This isn't easy though because as many of us may know, asking for help might - in the short run - seem like it takes more time than if we just did it ourselves! 
  • Admit I am human. I might be a human with a mutation, but this doesn't make me any less human - it just makes me more aware of being human. And most of the time because I am busy accomplishing a thousand things, or caught up in the momentum of the event that I forget the baseline of where I am working from. It is human to ask for help, and being aware of the other humans who are around, will I think, expand my understanding of what it is I want to accomplish along this adventurous journey!

Those are just some guidelines that I hope will allow me to be more efficient and effective as a person who needs to make compromises. But I want to be an awesome person so my hope is that the guidelines will help me to pick winning compromises! What do you think? Any others that I should add? I'll keep you updated on my progress!

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