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Wheelchair Wisdom: Metamorphosis -- Butterflies Earn Their Wings Through Great Effort

03/25/2015 05:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2015

Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore...

It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all

It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I'm free!

The song "Let it Go" is from Disney's animated movie Frozen. "(Disney's Frozen)
Let It Go" was written by Robert Lopez, Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

We are in the process of deep and beautiful change.

Never without losses and sacrifices, the process of transformation is often painful.

If we are to transform from one form to another, a part of us must die.

After the long East Coast winter in the United States, we're all longing to emerge and fly and let go of our "safe" life.

This letting go is what is known as Soul growth.

I believe we can make choices that allow our emotions to flow. I'm not saying it's easy to let rage course through your body, or look fear in the eye, or feel that place inside where your heart is broken. But you can make some choices that help you take responsibility for your emotions rather than waging the tough battle of trying to keep your feelings at bay.

Letting go isn't easy, especially when you're used to thinking a certain way about your life and how you live it.

1. Observe the timing and rhythm of your emotions.

It's very easy and natural to get so immersed in your feelings that you feel as though you are your emotions. We all do it, and it's one of the reasons they have so much power over us. But the truth is, emotions are something you have -- they come and they go, and they are separate from you. Remember, who you are is not your emotions.

You can develop the ability to gain enough objective distance by observing the rise and fall of your emotions with a degree of detachment, almost as though you were watching an event happening to someone else. I call this awareness. Imagine a large magnifying glass on the reality of what you're feeling. Give those emotions a chance to come to the surface and be seen. If they flow through you, you "gain altitude" on those feelings. Their grip on you will become less and less strong over time. You can never expect your core feelings to go away. There may always be moments when the reality of your situation hits you between the eyes and it just takes your breath away. But in time you'll be able to diffuse the energy of those feelings as you learn to acknowledge and release them without getting stuck in them.

2. Take a breath. Give yourself permission to step outside yourself and observe yourself.

Whatever your behavior looks like on the outside, there are most likely painful emotions lurking deep inside. They need to be acknowledged. I find there are many situations, for someone in a wheelchair, where these emotions are stirred up.

When you encounter the rude stare, the insensitive waiter, the public restroom door that's too small for your wheelchair, the handicapped parking space abused by those who are "just going in for a minute" -- what are your feelings? These feelings are apt to be triggered on a daily basis. And they can reignite the flame of that initial anger and grief about your loss of mobility. You can't stop these emotions from arising. But can you let them move through you without dictating your response to the situation? If you can, you'll be better able to move through your days with grace, dignity, and calmness.

3. Be aware of any judgment you have about yourself. When you are in confusion or doubt, be still, and listen inwardly for guidance.

Your feelings cannot be labeled or judged. There is no such thing as a "bad" emotion. Your feelings just are. Notice any judgment you carry about yourself as these feelings come up. Try to let go of that judgment and simply accept each emotion as a message from deep inside.

When you label anger, sadness, resentment or any other emotion as an enemy -- or a sign of some failing on your part -- you set up a cycle of resistance that actually gives the emotion more power over you. For example, if you believe it's wrong to be angry and you label your anger as a "negative" emotion that needs to be hidden, it will simmer and stew inside you until it makes you sick or depressed or erupts at some future point when you least expect it. Remember, what you resist, persists.

The truth is that emotions are a fundamental part of who we are. They give us valuable information about how to conduct our lives -- how to find work that is meaningful, avoid people who would do us harm, learn more effective ways to accomplish a task, or just enjoy a beautiful day. I know there are probably moments when you wish you could just numb the ability to feel, so you wouldn't have to "deal with" emotions. But it never hurts to remind ourselves that a life without feeling would be a life filled with apathy, ruled by carelessness. And I'm sure none of us wants to live like that.

4. Ask for support.

I've always been very independent, determined to do things on my own, and have never been one to ask for help. MS forced me to learn that accepting support when I need it isn't a sign of weakness, but can in fact be a real gift for me -- and a sign of strength, and an opportunity to authentically connect with others. And something more: My asking for support can also be a gift for the person who is giving it to me (whether they realize it or not).

Talking with someone you trust about your feelings may be one of the most healing things you can do. A compassionate word or touch, or a tender smile from someone who cares about you will help draw you out of the dark place where the emotions can feel so overwhelming. And just knowing there's someone who knows how to listen, who cares enough to really try to understand, can go a long way to relieve your sense of isolation.

It may be difficult to think of baring your heart. I'm sure you are feeling some things that you have difficulty admitting to yourself, let alone anyone else. But here's some wheelchair wisdom: the powerful emotions brought about by a life change as significant as the one you're experiencing might be more than you can handle single-handedly. There's really no reason you need to label some emotions as those you "should keep to yourself" and other emotions as those you "should share." That's just another form of judging your emotions, as futile as trying to sort them out and label them "good" or "bad," "right" or "wrong," "better" or "worse." Using a trusted friend or loved one who listens well -- without judging -- can give you the perspective or altitude you need to move from the mindset of "right/wrong" to a mindset of "it works/it doesn't work."

Wheelchair Wisdom Guidance:

HAVE PATIENCE WITH YOURSELF.

Patience is enjoying the journey.
It's not climbing the mountain to get to the top;
It's climbing the mountain to enjoy the climb.

Enjoy the process of your own life.

WHAT CAN YOU LET GO OF? LOOK AT THREE AREAS OF YOUR LIFE.

1.

2.

3.

Acknowledge your rebirth and awakening.

Much love,
Linda

A portion of this blog has been excerpted from Wheelchair Wisdom: Awaken Your Spirit through Adversity, pp. 11-13.

Linda Noble Topf is a bestselling author, blogger on The Huffington Post, coach and lecturer

www.wheelchairwisdom.com lnobletopf@comcast.net

Published by Berrett-Koehler & iUniverse in paper and e-book formats.

Soon to be available in audio format.

Linda's first book, You Are Not Your Illness and Wheelchair Wisdom
are now both available on Amazon.com, as well as your favorite book sellers.