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False self-esteem may be expressed as:

Loving others often requires that we be able to love ourselves first. However, that we may be able to love others is not evidence of self-esteem: Some may be able to love others but unable to love themselves, valuing others above themselves.

Humans are the only animals that judge themselves, that can make judgments about how to act, and then do the opposite. We are the only species capable of disregarding the facts of reality, of betraying our values. Because of this, humans require an intact self-esteem to live to full potential. We are not deterministic beings, are not passive reactors to external influences, though much of our unconscious behavior can be a response to present as well as past circumstances. As conscious adults, we have free volition: Our choices determine our self-regard, and are determined by it.

What Will Writing Do for You?

No matter how disabled you are, you can be an inspiration and a source of knowledge to others. Writing is the means by which you may pass on your experience and wisdom.

When you feel your freedom has been taken from you, when your options are limited, the only thing you can do is get freedom where you can. Writing can free you.

Writing can help you sort out and clarify your feelings. Keeping a journal can help you progress through the stages of depression, grief, anger, and fear. You can track your progress in black and white. This journal can include your feelings and experiences, and what you’ve learned about getting along in your changed lifestyle. Maybe you’ve discovered a way to get out of bed or walk that helps you deal with your disability. Would someone else like to know what you’ve discovered?

Everyone needs to be understood. Disabled people especially need to know that their feelings and experiences are not unique to them, that others have the same feelings of frustration and pain. It is important for disabled people to know they aren’t alone. Would your journal be useful to another disabled person?

What do you know that’s special? Do you have ideas that you could share with others? Political views? An unusual philosophy? Interesting life observations? Recipes? Instructions on how to do something difficult? Jokes? Write them down.

Would you like to write fiction? Stories can be an excellent way to work through negative emotions or escape your day-to-day reality. With fiction, you have the option of totally immersing yourself in self-exploration, or breaking away from reality and discovering other possibilities.

When people write stories, their minds leave the real world temporarily and thrust them into another existence. Fiction is a way of transcending the disability, becoming something other than what you are. It is not only an escape, it is a reclamation of your imagination. Imagination creates options and choices. You can go anywhere and do anything you want without limitations. Writing fiction can change you.

You can get as dark as you like on paper—there are no taboos. Dark thoughts and feelings help you appreciate the good things in life. There is no light without the darkness. You can invent villains that act out your darkest fantasies. What would you like to do to the non-disabled person who parks in a handicapped spot?

You can swear, cry, scream, throw tantrums on paper. No one gets hurt. No one else even has to know how angry or hurt you feel. When you trap your anger and despair on paper, you drain the energy from these negative emotions in your real life. Because they’re on paper and you don’t carry them around with you, they no longer have power over you. You control the negative emotions, they do not control you.

Writing can help you discover new things about yourself.

Writing can improve your problem-solving skills. Paint yourself into a corner on paper: The trials of disability will become less like trials and more like creative innovation. The more your mind is challenged, the stronger it becomes. You will learn to create positives from negative situations, to look for the opportunities rather than wallow in the limitations. Writing will make you look forward instead of backward, and help you invent new possibilities.

If You’re Convinced You Can’t Write . . .

If you can read this article, you can write. It’s as simple as that. If your grammar and spelling aren’t great, you have two options: If you intend to write just for yourself, ignore it; if you are considering publication, brush up on your English skills.

There are lots of good books available on grammar and spelling. If you want to write for publication, you’ll not only need to improve your basic English skills, but you’ll need to study writing technique specific to the kind of writing you want to do. Check out writing books at your library, enroll in correspondence writing courses, or have a professional writer help you get started. You may even want to join or start a writing group for disabled writers!

If you want to write for self-discovery, it doesn’t matter whether you know the rules or not. If you can understand what you’ve written, then that’s all you need.

Your goal is to make sense to yourself, sort out your feelings and thoughts, and put them on paper so you can go over them at a later time. How have your personal views changed over time? Is there a thread of misery running through your life that you could have done something about before it became second nature? Your writing can show you.

You don’t have to know the names of sentence parts, or what dangling participles or split infinitives are. All you need are the raw basics.

What follows is a “quick and dirty” writing lesson.

KINDS OF WORDS

Noun—the name of something (chair, horse, she, Sam)

Verb—an action (run, was, trickle, sip)

Adjective—describes a noun (red, short, crooked, splendid)

Adverb—describes an action (quickly, deftly, sleepily, hungrily)

PUNCTUATION

Period—ends a sentence at a dead stop.

Comma—for a short pause, like this.

Dash—for a longer pause—like this.

Ellipsis—for the longest . . . pause.

Colon—for separating examples: Such as this one.

Semicolon—for joining two sentences that are closely related; the last sentence refers to the first.

Double Quotes: “This is what I am saying.”

Single Quotes—for quotes inside quotes. “This is what I say, but Paul says, ‘Poppycock!’ and I just don’t agree.”

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Writing to Cope with Disability, page 3