I was robbed, shot in the head, and left for dead. I woke up paralyzed.
This experience positively changed my life for the better. Here’s how.
1. Be of Original Thought
You are the captain of your own fate. Don’t let anyone hijack intent or confidence.
When I was paralyzed from the neck down, the medical team announced to my family that I would never walk again and that the therapy plan was to get my wrist moving so I could operate a high-powered wheelchair as my mode of transportation.
I was furious with their “plan” and yelled for them to leave, clearly indicating that I was indeed going to walk again. In fact, I straight up told them I’m going to run a freaking marathon.
Don’t let the opinions of others define your capabilities – even if they are people of authority. You have to think for yourself. You have to be of original thought.
Be aware of the fallacy. Appealing to authority is a common type of fallacy or an argument based on unsound logic.
When writers or speakers use appeal to authority, they are claiming that something must be true because it is believed by someone who is determined to be an “authority” on the subject. In my case, it was surgeons and doctors.
Nobody knows yourself, your limitations, and your potential better than you do. Always remember that.
2. The Power of Belief
I learned the importance of the power of belief. If I wanted to recover the way I imagined, I had to first believe that I could do it.
The world’s best doctors and therapists can only do so much. At some point, I needed to put in the physical work to overcome being a paraplegic and to get the results I wanted. I went in 100% with intentions without reservations.
We have everything in us we need to accomplish great feats. In the face of death, we do not have another choice but to tap into this internal power that has always existed inside of us.
Maggie Summers, a survivor of the Oklahoma City Bombing, said, “I made a deal with God that if he let me survive, I would lose weight, finish college, and fix relationships with my loved ones. I survived and began to live a purposeful life.” She was given a second chance, and she made the most of it.
Summers went on to explain that since her awakening, she graduated college, started a charity to assist victims of violent crimes, and realized what she values most – spending time with the people she loves.
Generally, an abyss will cause a revelation which transforms individuals.
When I came out of the coma, after a slug went through my head, if I wanted to survive, then I had to envision myself fully recovered. I had to follow my envisioned steps to a full recovery, and choose to believe my life has zero limitations.
Sun Tzu said, “on desperate ground, fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; whereas death is certain if you cling to your corner.”
If a doctor told me that I would never walk again, what is the harm in trying to do so? I could only move forward rather than back, so why not?
There is nothing wrong with believing past the limitations set by other people’s opinions. My life would be very limited if I chose to live within a box that doctors, or people for that matter, said I could not escape.
Like a prisoner, I slowly scratch at the walls of what I am “limited” of today – tomorrow may be the day that I break free.
Maybe something supernatural will help me, maybe I will develop the strength I need all on my own.
No matter what, the source of all my thoughts comes from me being fully recovered – and that is all I need to push through.
Don’t underestimate the power of belief and use it to help you see anything through to the end.
3. Weeded Out The Real From The Fake
In your darkest moments, your true friends will emerge.
I really got to learn who actually had my back and the true colors of other people showed.
Even my own father said if I wanted help, then I should get a job – while I was on my death bed.
On the flip side, from my death bed is where I cultivated my most meaningful friendships with people at the time who were complete strangers. Now, we are best friends.
You should read my discussion on “who really has your back.” I talk about this a lot more in-depth there.
Weeding out the real people from the fake showed me who I could truly depend on, no matter what the circumstances.
4. It Opened My Eyes To Greed
This traumatic experience has really opened my eyes to how low some people will go to benefit from my suffering.
The saying is more money more problems, right? In my case, it was more like more problems more money.”
Every doctor was coming at me with huge eyes full of dollar signs. They tried to double-dip on their payment and invoices by trying to repeat medical procedures on my brain. They tried to force me into additional medical procedures I did not need.
They even tried to hook me up to some sort of life support system against my will for no other reason than having a higher payout.
A person from the media tried to get me to narrate my story for her. When I asked why she said no other reason than the fact that it would help her get into a college she wanted to get into.
Two magazine companies tried to sell my story, and when I asked them what was in it for me, they said nothing. They were just trying to make a living for themselves.
It got to the point where I had to be booked in the hospital under a password because so many people were trying to make a living off my misery.
In other people’s suffering, people who are desperate for money, fame, or opportunity will take the chance to abuse this suffering to their own benefit.
A prime example is cigarettes. They are proven to kill and increase chances of cancer – but the government makes a ridiculous amount of money off of them. So why would they ever put an end to it?
They also make money off their anti-smoking efforts. There is never an end to gaining a financial advantage over someone poor and helpless.
5. Every Adverse Circumstance Is An Opportunity
I learned that every adverse circumstance is an opportunity to grow.
In every problem, there are opportunities and solutions. Nobody should succumb to negative self-talk, discouragement, or fear. That will only stunt your growth.
You should ask yourself, “am I changing for the better?” If the answer is an honest “yes,” then learn from your mistakes and find opportunities in growing from your challenges and problems.
If all you see when you look at an adverse circumstance is adversity, then you’re never going to overcome them, learn from them, and improve from them.
Take them as an opportunity to grow.
6. Be Kind To Yourself
I heard a therapist say, “we have to remember to be kind to ourselves.”
When it comes to recovery, I know we want the healing to come faster than it is. However, we are on a journey, and we must be kind to ourselves along the way.
Maybe tomorrow will be the day you are healed. But the amount of time does not matter. You have to be kind to yourself today, too.
If you are never kind to yourself, how can you reward yourself or say to your mind and body, “you are doing a good thing?”
It’s the same for when you reward a dog for doing something good. Be kind to yourself when you accomplish something. Be kind to yourself when you are suffering and know that it is okay to feel sad about it.
The body takes a heavy toll when we are burdened by depression, stress, anxiety, pain… Being kind to yourself is a way to alleviate these burdens.
7. Aware of Fallacious Barriers
Lately, I have experienced fallacious barriers. Thoughts that hold no merit to bog me down, discourage me, or make me doubt what I am capable of have been doing just that.
For example, as I am writing this, I am thinking about every reason why writing this book won’t work.
“I can’t even write an email, should I try writing this blog? When I am finished writing, how am I going to format it? Does this story even relate to anyone?”
Too often, people look at the negative outcome of things rather than the positives – which always outweigh their opposite.
These unsound internal arguments are something that almost all of us can relate to, so worrying if something is relatable is an insignificant concern.
Dr. Phil said, “Your internal dialogue powerfully programs and shapes your self-concept. If you believe you are worthy and strong, you will live up to that truth.”
The same applies to the opposite. If you put yourself down and think you are not worthy, you will believe this negative self-talk. You will live by this notion, too.
Whenever you experience yourself against a fallacious barrier, continue to be constructive and keep pushing forward!
8. There Are Bad Days, But There Is GOOD In All Days
The day I was robbed and shot in the head, I learned that there are bad days, but there is good in all days.
I overheard a gentleman say, “considering the circumstances he has a great attitude.” One thing I learned earlier in life was that positive outcomes come from positive postulates.
For example, Steve Jobs said that Mercedes makes beautiful cars because the engineers have beautiful thoughts. I unknowingly abide by the same rule of thumb.
It could be very easy for me to have a miserable day every single day in my hospital. However, living a miserable existence would take much more work than to be at peace and have a positive attitude.
The basis is not about what happened, but, what will happen and the beautiful future set out in front of me. Everyone has sad stories. Everyone has bad days. But I can dictate this.
Every day will be a bad one if that is what I choose. If I choose to have a better day than I had the day before, that is all up to me.
Looking for solutions to the goals I set, and by keeping my postulates positive, it is impossible to have a bad day.
9. The Power of Awesome Attitude
If something bad happens and you react in a negative way, you will push everyone away.
However, if something bad happens to you, and you react constructively, you will attract people to help you.
They see your willingness and bright attitude, and it’s contagious. People around you will feel positively influenced by your attitude.
An awesome attitude radiates around you, spreading itself to other people and encouraging them to help you.
The opposite pushes people away – you appear unlikable and poor-minded.
A great attitude is remarkably powerful in how it influences the minds of others. Use it to your advantage – show others your high spirits, and they will reciprocate.
10. It Is Never Too Late For A New Beginning
Bikram Choudury said, “Never too old, never too sick, never too bad to start again.”
As I was laying on my death bed, I found strength in this quote. I was weeks away from my college graduation, and in an instant of the traumatic injury, I lost my ability to read, count, and distinguish shapes.
Additionally, I was paralyzed and did not know where my body parts were, such as my back. With that said, I never found myself too far from recovery to keep pushing forward. I only saw room for improvement.
When it is time to start a new journey in life, such as finishing school, I will continue to extend my perspective of “it is never too late for a new beginning.”
Regardless of where you are in life with your own personal journey – whether it be training to be a black belt in karate or striving to start your own business – remember that quote.
You are never too old, never too sick, and never too bad to start again. Taking longer than it’s supposed to for reaching your black belt status in karate because you’re a little older? Who cares!
Have you failed repeatedly trying to start your passionate business idea? Keep going. Don’t stop just because you failed – use it as an excuse to keep going.
11. Follow The Omens
Some things are just not meant to be. Call it common sense, fate, omens… Whatever. But some things are not meant to be, and I learned to follow the omens.
I purchased a 7 series BMW when I was younger, and the next day, the transmission went out, and it stopped going in reverse. Furthermore, the car was stolen, and the driver hit a ton parked vehicles with it.
Ten years later, I bought a 7 series BMW, and I was ambushed by people on a carjacking spree. My car was shot up, which resulted in the gunman reaching in through the shattered driver’s side window and shooting me in the head.
Some things are just not meant to be, and it’s important to recognize the omens and follow them. Yes, even if it is when someone shoots you in the head.
This can happen in positive situations, too: getting positive feedback and promotion at work, good indications on a date with a romantic partner, excelling in a particular subject at school and you should pursue that major in college…
Follow the omens. Let the journey flow.
I want these 11 lessons that I was taught from my negative experience to positively impact and encourage you with your personal challenges.
Notice how those challenges can positively change your life for the better rather than viewing them as a horrible thing.
What can you learn from them? What are these challenges teaching you? What can it help you with in the future? For example, in my case of “weeding out the real from the fake” – this can help you determine your true friends.
There are lessons in every aspect of life – from the smallest thing like getting a papercut to the biggest like losing a limb. These experiences ultimately shape your future, depending on how you respond to them.
I strongly encourage you to learn from every negative or positive experience, no matter what it is. Use it as a training tool to develop yourself as a person and as a student of life.