After finding out that a loved one got into an accident that gave him or her a physical disability, you can’t help but feel pity immediately towards that person. “He or she was so close to fulfilling his or her dreams, and then this disaster happened,” you might say. Whenever you meet the disabled individual even years past the incident, therefore, you want to treat him or her with gentleness and not talk much about your successes to avoid making the person feel sorrier about his or her situation.
While you mean well, though, you fail to look at the possibility that maybe – just maybe – your loved one with a disability does not want the special attention. Perhaps the individual wishes that you look at him or her the same way you did before the accident to feel some normalcy. After all, it is already tough to deal with the fact that that individual can’t do many things now due to the physical condition. It can perform magic on his or her self-esteem if you give the following to the disabled person:
Someone whose world practically turned upside down because of one incident tends to experience an all-time low during this phase. Hence, to help the individual handle the matter better, you need to throw some words of encouragement here and there. Speak of the places you can visit together, for instance. Show him or her different hobbies to do. Also, always remind this person that the disability does not define his or her talents, so he or she should get moving.
“Encouragement can provide people with strength to look ahead, move forward, and reach for the next goal,” writes Julie J. Exline Ph.D.
“Respect honors the uniqueness of each person,” writes Arthur Dobrin D.S.W. You ought to understand that even somebody who cannot walk without crutches or function without a wheelchair wants to feel as if he or she is not entirely dependent on other people. That allows the fellow to have some control over his or her life. So, say, if he or she is trying to go to bed, it is not right to utter, “Wait for me. I will help you get on the matter.” Instead, it is more acceptable to let the individual know, “I am here if you need my help.” You get to prove that you respect his or her ideas by doing so.
After a couple of years of living with a disability, some folks gain enough strength and confidence to look for a job or at least deal with household chores. In case your initial reaction to this news is to tell the person to stay at home and chill, though, we are advising you against doing that now. Not only will it hurt the disabled fellow but it shows that you do not trust him or her, which can impede with the resurgence of his or her self-esteem.
“Providing support to someone, while usually well-intentioned, can have negative consequences: it can make the person getting the support feel like they can’t do things on their own, it can make them feel guilty (for being a burden), and it can hurt their self-esteem,” writes Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton Ph.D.
Whatever your loved one with a disability wants to do, as long as it does not involve self-harming, drinking to death, or doing drugs, you should say yes to it. He or she wants to get his or her life back together, and it will mean so much to have even a single person believing that he or she can do anything. If the individual wishes to re-enter the workforce, for instance, you can assist in finding companies he or she can apply to. If opening a business is what this fellow has in mind, you should strategize with him or her and offer your support physically and emotionally.
In The End
Of course, a disabled person needs your love, not your pity. Some may argue that it is difficult to separate the two, especially when you see someone who used to do everything on his or her own suddenly deal with an infirmity. Despite that, you have to realize that pity makes you want to treat the individual like fragile glass, while love lets you support, respect, and trust any decision that your beloved comes up with, no questions asked.