March 15, 2010

How to Overcome Adversity Like a Paralympian: 4 Things We Can All Learn from the Paralympic Games

The Paralympic Games taking place now in Vancouver, BC are an amazing display of focus, faith, and mental toughness from athletes who surmount incredible adversity every day.


(Paralympians are Olympic athletes with a physical handicap). In life it’s so easy to give up when we run into a brick wall, but these athletes continually find a way to get over or around the obstacles that block their path. The truth is, we all wake up with the choice each day between faith and fear, between focusing on what’s possible or what we are afraid of.


Here are four things we can learn from Paralympians:

  1. You are not your circumstances. It’s human nature to get caught up in the events of life, to be ruled by our experiences. If we fail a test or lose our job, we take it personally. If we ace an exam or get a raise, we feel better about ourselves. Paralympians, however, have learned that the ups and downs of day-to-day life do not have to dictate how they feel. Live your life set up around your dreams and learn to connect with that feeling each day.
  2. You are not your body. In our self-centered lives, we often get caught up in comparing our physical appearance to others. This easily leads to self-rejection or self-pride, both of which engage the always-threatened ego mind. You are far more than your outer appearance, you are a spiritual being in a human body. Know what you believe and value, and pursue that with all your heart. Your power will increase dramatically.
  3. You are not your mind. We all have a mind that thinks negative thoughts, has limiting beliefs, and wants to judge everything that happens to us, label it good or bad, and respond emotionally to it. Your mind is a part of you, just like your body, that you must train every day. Because we get attached to our mind, it  dominates our lives with self-defeating thoughts. Affirm every day who you want to become as if it’s already true.
  4. You are extraordinarily gifted. In our natural pre-occupation with ourselves, we often get caught up with our limitations, and no one knows that more than the physically handicapped. Paralympians, however, see themselves as gifted, not disabled. The moment you focus on your limitations you become a victim and lose your power. Give thanks for five things each night before bed and your subconscious mind will attract more of that good energy.

Photo credit: Susan Gittans