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Spinal Cord Injury Community

A Pivot Mindset

Aaron Baker
Spinal Cord Injury Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
01/27/21  12:58 PM PST
How I Maintain A Positive, Optimistic and Flexible Frame Of Mind

How I Maintain A Positive, Optimistic and Flexible Frame Of Mind

I will begin with full transparency – I do not have a clear and positive mindset every day. The ebbs and flows of daily life can oscillate like ocean waves that sweep my unchecked emotions into turbulent white water. As, too, my body’s fluctuating chemistry and physical disposition can challenge my patience and optimism. These factors can weigh heavily in my mind and engross me in a mental dance of fear and anxiety, and then elation and optimism. I ponder fun and foreboding thoughts at the same time, all as a cacophony of sound in my head – my brain an amplifier of such.

I aim to compartmentalize my thoughts (Compartmentalization: a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves) and zoom out. Away from myself and the confines of my mind to see a bigger picture – a landscape which shows my postulation as just a song and dance. My thoughts are merely a symphony of memories, new and old, my brain wiring and misfiring back and forth between the known and unknown, past, present and future happenings. My challenge is to press pause on the looped soundtrack and to press play on a new tune.

What does all of that mean though? And how do I do that? For me it means to control the contollables.

I’ll use 2020 as an example. The year of big change with an uncertain forecast forced me to narrow my focus on what was within my immediate control- my thoughts, words and actions. Much similar to the year of my accident.

As I mentioned, wrangling my thoughts are, first and foremost, about keeping a broad perspective with gratitude as an audible mantra for each day.

My family and I pared down to the bare essentials, the basics – food, water, shelter, health, and money. We budgeted to cover the first three essentials, leaving our primary target to be (and quite frankly it should always be) our health. This hierarchal structure was not far from the spinal cord injury lifestyle I had lead before, as isolation and hyper-vigilance was a demand of my body.

The money part though, is where a flexible, pivotable mindset really becomes valuable. For me and my family a pivot was imperative to keep our very real reality wheels rolling.

To pivot as a verb means to turn in direction, a movement from one way of operating to another. This is what I had to do… what a lot of people around the world have had to do. Traveling for work and in-person meetings were no longer an option for me. Instead, Zoom conferences and video calls became the norm. My business of public speaking and social services went by the wayside and impacted my ability to provide. I didn’t know which direction I should go; I felt like a ship at sea with a sail, but no wind. Anxiety would creep in, and fear and doubt soon followed. I’d act busy and forecast our funds and then freak out a little. I didn’t have a plan and no vision for one either.

Then I’d hear a friendly voice in my head: “Go to the beach and relax. Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive.” And: “Take a step to the left and see the problem from another angle.” I opened my mind to allow all possibilities in, and doubled back to the basics reminding myself with gratitude.

What has transpired since has been a variety of auspicious opportunities that I may have missed or have otherwise been oblivious to. I have not figured it all out yet, but I am in full pivot of exploring all creative ways to cultivate financial freedom. This is my new modus operandi – Open, optimistic, flexible and fearless to find my way forward… Much like my ongoing recovery from a spinal cord injury.

-Aaron

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I have c6 injury and I have lots of spasm in my whole body. What can you suggest to help?
Rahul
I have found that consistent stretching, light exercise, plenty of water, quality food and rest all affect my spasticity.


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