What You Need
- Choosing an Approach
- Consider Your Role
- Summing Your Needs Up
- Another Way to Help You Shift Your Approach
What You Need
Living with the effects and outcomes of a brain injury is tough – very tough.
Coping with how you feel, the loss, confusion, and all the changes is daunting.
Problems with ‘initiation,’ or knowing where to start, is an outcome of impairment within the executive systems. Knowing where to start is an attention skill and is very problematic when you want to make changes, but don’t know where to begin.
How do you start to feel better?
Where is the starting point?
Working with a neurological professional, such a neuropsychologist or neurological occupational therapist, will provide those starting points and all the guidance you need.
However, if you don’t have access to public or insurance provided services, have asked for a referral and have been turned down, or can’t afford private fees, there are other options available to you.
Choosing an Approach
Difficulties with ‘decision making’ or making choices, is also an outcome of impairment within the executive systems. These deficits are problematic when you want to make changes, and don’t know what or how to choose the best option.
There are usually several approaches you can choose from, but thinking of what these are can also be tricky.
Thinking of your needs, we suggest starting with giving some consideration to how you think and feel about your brain injury.
Consider how you think about these possible scenarios; take your time, pause and don’t worry about your answers. The aim is to try and help you understand your beliefs and attitudes about where you find yourself now.
Is your brain injury who you are – or is your brain injury detached from your sense of self?
The difference would be noticeable in how you respond when, say, you can’t do something. Do you blame yourself for your failures, or do you feel curious about why your brain couldn’t initiate or complete an action?
Or, do you think or feel that who you are, as in the ‘intrinsic you,’ has changed, and that ‘who you are’ is responsible for the mistakes and problems you are facing?
Or, do you recognise the functionality of your brain has changed, but how you feel deep inside is the same?
Another clue to help with this, is to think about your motivations and intentions. When you go to do or say something does the impetus or sponsoring thought still feel familiar? Is it just the outcomes or expected responses that don’t match?
Do you believe that you and your brain are one in the same thing, or do you think that your brain is a tool you use?
Thinking about these questions, and how you feel about them, is important to how you will approach your experiences and journey through supported or at-home rehabilitation.
Consider Your Role
Although it may seem obvious to some people that we should do everything we can to help ourselves, changes in self-awareness or metacognition after brain injury might make this the last thing we consider.
Living with the outcomes and effects of a brain injury can be so overwhelming that you spend all your time just trying to get from one moment to the next. You can get swamped with dealing with what is showing up, and have little time for reflective thought.
Changes in the brain can alter our ability to monitor or ‘hear’ what we are thinking at any moment. It feels as though you are on autopilot and things happen ‘to’ you.
You may notice that outcomes don’t match you what you would have chosen or wanted.
Understanding that you can help yourself, and there are things you can practice every day as part of your routine, can be problematic due to changes in self-awareness.
Overcoming your expectations of yourself, and realising how hard it is to give yourself direction or commands, can be a starting point.
If you are finding it hard to follow this at the moment, pause and see if you know why? Is your inner voice telling you to focus and stay with it – or is it absent?
If it is absent, you will have to work harder at helping yourself because you will have to use more strategies to develop the right habits you need. Your brain is doing the best it can – but it needs your help.
Just as you need support from the people around you, your brain needs the same from you.
Part of your role as the captain of your ship, is to consider if you are supporting yourself as best as possible.
Beliefs will predict behaviour and emotional response but if you aren’t aware of what they are, anything that needs updating will add to how often your brain goes off down the wrong track. You can change anything that needs updating through reflection – your brain can’t do this for you because it is a tool – it isn’t in a position of high command able to give orders. Who you are must do this.
For example, if you feel there is nothing you can do about your brain, you will experience feeling helpless and will be more inclined to dependence on others.
If this doesn’t sit well with your innate personality type, you will also feel resentment.
On the other hand, if you believe you can help your brain improve, you will feel and experience positive attitudes.
If you look at these two illustrations, you may find you can think of more examples of how your beliefs and attitudes are helping or hindering you.
These considerations are an excellent place to start examining what your needs are.
Summing Your Needs Up
Decide which set of statements are applicable to you.
Set One – Fixed mind-set
- I can’t do anything about my brain injury
- No one understands my brain injury
- There is no one to help me
- I feel helpless
- I am angry and resent my brain injury
Set Two – Growth Mind-set
- It is my brain that is injured – not who I am
- Everyone can learn about the why the changes in my brain affect what I do and how they see me
- Everyone can access information and tools to support me
- I want to do everything I can to help myself
- I know I have a lot of work to do and will rise to the challenge
If you chose set one, do you think you could shift your approach to adopt the mindset of set two?
Can you see how your mindset will either support you or undermine you?
You need you to be on board and to be proactive in your rehabilitation.
The BEST Suite app provides you with an opportunity to gain insight and develop self-awareness in order to embrace or move toward a growth mindset.
It helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses post-injury and provides a platform to document and track your emotional and physical status as well as activities and strategies you use throughout your day.
By developing insights and a growth mindset, you will be more aware and open to the various approaches to cognitive rehabilitation available and to find the best fit for you after your injury.