After a brain injury you can worry if you are doing things right and if you are getting any better. So you need to celebrate the small wins when they happen to remind you of both. My traumatic brain injury happened December 2014, and last night was the first time since that I have been able to use a tin opener without having to be shown! It’s taken almost 2 years for me to get it right! These days most tins come with a ring pull. So there aren’t that many occasions when you need a tin opener.
I never thought I’d say this, but the tin opener had become my nemesis.
But my partner James, has a liking for some particular baked beans which come in a tin without a ring pull. He doesn’t have them very often. But that sense of fear and dread descended upon me when he asked me to add them to his dinner. Previously, when I had struggled with the tin opener, I felt stupid and inadequate. I genuinely couldn’t work out how it functioned. I knew what it was, and that it needed to attach to the can and you twist the handle, but still couldn’t get it right.
This time I didn’t mention my fear to James, as I wanted to push myself.
I started to position the tin opener on the can in a way that felt right. Even at this point I was preparing myself for disappointment. I was sure every other attempt had been exactly the same but ended badly. This time though I felt it pierce the tin. This was further than I’d ever got before. A smile crept onto my lips as I started to get excited. I began turning the handle and the can started turning as the blade sliced the tins lid. I’d done it! I have no idea what I did differently, but I’m just relieved that this time my brain got it right. Brain 1-0 Brain injury.
Don’t worry, I’m not expecting party poppers and champagne. I mean it is just opening a tin, and I’m sure in time the tin opener will become completely obsolete. But it is a milestone for me and that’s important.
I’m telling you about this little triumph over my brain injury, because it’s an example of how if we take notice of our small wins we can define our progress.
Here’s how you can make sure you recognise your achievements in 5 steps.
– You might hope to make an entire family meal, but that’s incredibly complicated. You might need to build up to it. Getting that tin open (although I’m sure the proper cooks amongst you would never buy tinned food) for me would be an important step. After all, I can’t cook the meal if I can’t even get the ingredients out of the container.
– I’m not saying I bought myself some Jimmy Choo shoes to congratulate myself (although I might have in my dreams) but it’s important to mark these little wins to keep yourself motivated. It could be having your favourite coffee with marshmallows , or in my case it just giving the cat a very unwanted cuddle.
– We are used to targets having time frames, but all this is going to do is put you under pressure. I didn’t specify what time I was aiming for dinner to be ready, so it didn’t matter if I needed extra time to have a fight with the tin.
– We’re all used to the faithful To Do List, and it’s really useful at reminds us whats next. But we so quickly forget what doesn’t belong on there anymore because it’s completed. So if you have a Done List you can look back over how far you’ve come. If I didn’t write it down, this time next year I’d probably forget that I’d retaught myself how to open a tin.
– That family meal might feel like a hike up Mount Everest. That sounds awful to me. But let’s flip that and try looking at it another way. Most travellers will agree the descent is easier than the ascent, so lets do that. You’re working your way down and there’s some good stop off points on the way. Cute animals, beautiful views, yummy restaurants, whatever works for you, these are your rewards.
I know this sounds like the ramblings of a mad woman (or crazy cat lady) but it really does work. This is a method some of the most successful people use. It helps keep them stay motivated and keep reaching up for the next step, even when it felt like the world was against them.