“Excellence can be obtained if you care more than others think is wise, risk more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible.” ~Unknown
After several excruciatingly painful and profoundly frightening years of undiagnosed symptoms, I was diagnosed with a “progressive and incurable” neurological disease, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (RSD/CRPS), which is characterized by unrelenting pain that is disproportionate to the inciting event, usually an injury or trauma.
As luck would have it, I was diagnosed and, shortly after, hospitalized for the first of three times just as I was accepted into a Master’s program for clinical social work.
I always saw myself obtaining a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D., but how would I accomplish these grueling and seemingly impossible tasks if I could barely stand up long enough to brush my teeth on a cocktail of the most potent narcotics available?
I didn’t have the answer to this question, and a flood of fear and doubt rose up within me like a tsunami crashing onto the shore, drowning hope and destroying all of the life in its path.
I pushed onward despite overwhelming feelings of fear, and medical professionals suggesting that I should quit graduate school and go on disability.
That was three years ago, and now, I have a Master’s Degree in clinical social work (MSW) and a professional license to boot (LSW). Not to mention, I no longer take any medication for the RSD/CRPS thanks to coffee enemas, a vegan diet (heavy on the fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices), and a will and desperation to be healthy.*
At best, my traditional doctors predicted a life full of yearly or bi-yearly week-long hospitalizations where I would receive a continuous I.V. drip of the powerful anesthetic, ketamine (better known by its street name, “special K”), which can temporarily control the pain for some individuals.
I couldn’t accept that portrait of my future, so I decided to paint my own. In my version, colors and health were vibrant and smiles and possibilities were endless. “Can’t” changed to “heck yes, I can” and “incurable and progressive” weren’t part of the vocabulary, no matter what they said.
Was obtaining my Master’s Degree the biggest challenge of my young life thus far? Absolutely. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.
In fact, my continuously improving health moves that Ph.D. out on the horizon closer and closer to the palm of my hand, and victory never tastes as sweet as when it is achieved with the odds against you.
Below are my five tips on how to succeed despite the odds.
1. Die to the past.
Forget what you know. Forget what everyone has told you. Die to the past, and while you’re at it, remember: the present is not a means to get to the future. If you think of it that way, you will be perpetually unfulfilled.
Be mindful of the present moment because the past is over, and the future doesn’t exist. The only moment is now.
Take a moment to allow yourself to be in awe of the wonders of the world and the divine intelligence that helps those ordinary miracles unfold. Your miracle is unfolding right now, and you’ll miss it if you continue to live without awareness.
2. Surrender to the unknown.
Surrendering has never been my forte because I have a tendency to want to control my environments, which means I can end up living in the future, not in the present moment. Worrying is wasted energy, and no amount of those toxic thoughts will ever change the outcome.
I believe a higher power has a plan for me, and as I look back on my life so far, I realize I have always been put in the places I needed to be to personally and professionally grow and develop. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, trust that you will never come up against more than you can handle.
Relax, and let life flow through you.
3. Dare to dream.
The limitations we perceive are put in place by us and only us. Take some time to sit in stillness and tap into your innate intuitive abilities.
Silencing the critical voices of others and that critical voice within you will allow you to get in touch with your desires and the possibilities of achieving them. It is the “impossible” that stretches you, shows you what you can become, and aids in the formation of who you are meant to be.
4. Support yourself.
A rock solid support system is essential, but you cannot overcome an obstacle if you don’t believe in yourself. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities because if you don’t, no one else will either.
The negative thoughts that you harbor about yourself will ultimately be sent out into the universe and affect how your life unfolds.
When you believe in your potential, your life will take on a whole new expression. “I can’t” turns into “I will.” Remember, you are divinity in motion, so start acting like it.
5. Go all in.
Anyone who has experienced any kind of success understands that it does not come without hard work, discipline, and dedication. When you come from behind and achieve the impossible, the triumph seems so much greater. Determination, commitment, and a burning desire to see your dreams through will help you achieve any goal your intuition guides you toward.
Now, go in the direction of your dreams, even if they seem impossible. You deserve unbounded success, and you are worthy of miracles. I have faith in you and all that you can be. Do you?
*Lori’s Note: This site is not intended to provide, and does not constitute, medical advice. The author’s opinions regarding treatment for RSD/CRPS are her own and do not reflect the opinions of Tiny Buddha. If you have a similar condition, please consult with your physician before trying alternative treatments, such as those mentioned in this post.
Photo by h.koppdelaney