In today’s #TouretteTalk I continue to share an excerpt from the Introduction of my book “You Can Do the Impossible, Too!” As I outlined in last week’s article, I’m getting more and more comfortable getting vulnerable and raw with the world about living with Tourette Syndrome.
Interestingly enough, what I find happening is that as I share about living with TS, I also get more and more power over it. What was embarrassing in the past is becoming a source of strength.
Ideas are coming to me on how to empower other people living with Tourette’s, autism, depression, mental health disorders, and more. In fact, if you have ever felt ashamed or like an outcast, I want to be someone who empowers you and helps you realize what special gifts you bring to the world.
I guess we will all see how that manifests itself here on my blog. In the meantime, I hope today’s book excerpt gives you encouragement.
(From pages 3-6 of “You Can Do the Impossible, Too!”)
Adults make the rules for you as a child or teenager. Children are told what is appropriate and how they are expected to act. They tend to hear the word “no” a lot. No, you are too small to ride the roller coaster. No, you won’t grow up to be a star football player. No, no, no.
As I reflect on my childhood, I understand that decisions were often made in my best interest. I wish I’d had the words to explain why being forced to wear a shirt, tie, and blazer to church or to a family picture felt like torture. All I knew was that I was expected to look and act a certain way, a way that society expected of me.
My experience taught me that trying to live up to society’s standards and live by what is expected by others was a recipe for unhappiness. I have been as guilty as anyone of comparing myself to others and trying to live up to expectations that may have been unreasonable. The only thing living that way accomplished was to fill me with frustration and destructive self-talk.
Most of the time when you grow older, the adults around you stop telling you what to do or how to act. They may occasionally share their opinions with you, but other adults know they can’t get away with telling you what you can and can’t do. And while the adults used to tell you “no,” now you have a much stiffer adversary telling you no. Yourself. You are the one who limits what you can and can’t do.
One of my biggest personal barriers to overcome has been the quiet times, late in the evening, when I am full of doubt. I don’t show any doubt and reservations when I am in public, but from time to time I wonder if I’ve made smart decisions in my life. It is at those times that I beat myself up with destructive self-talk.
The way we talk to ourselves is embarrassing. “No, you’ll never be a success.” “No, you’ll never get out of debt.” “No, you don’t have enough talent or intelligence or drive, or whatever is necessary, to live your dreams.” If we heard an adult speaking to a child this way, we would chastise the adult for such harsh language and for trying to kill the child’s spirit.
We are constantly in a battle against negativity and the word “No.” We battle outside forces, we battle other people, and we battle our most difficult adversary — ourselves.
I wish I knew why we are constantly bombarded with such negativity. I wish I knew why it appears that the world sometimes conspires against us, but I don’t.
What I have learned over my lifetime is that we have a choice. We can choose to listen to the haters. We can choose to give in to self-doubt in moments of weakness. We can prove that all the critics were right about us.
Or, we can fight back. We can say yes to those who tell us no. We can take the beating that life sometimes dishes out, and get up off the mat swinging. We can identify and surround ourselves with people who believe in us and who champion us on to the greatness that is within.
We can listen to the still, small voice deep inside of us that helps us identify our dreams and keeps us on the right course. We can choose to believe in ourselves, imagine ourselves conquering every obstacle, and take actions that accomplish those goals. We can live big, exciting lives.
My choice is to don my armor, get in the ring, and fight. And if you have picked up this book, then I believe you also have chosen to fight. So, let’s fight together.
This is my story of fighting back against everyone and everything that has tried to keep me from living the life that I was created to live. This is my story of saying yes to those who said no. This is my story of overcoming the odds, massive self-doubt, and other people who said I could never do the things I wanted to do in my life. This is my story of doing the impossible.
The simple truth is that I never wanted to write this story. For decades, I viewed my Tourette’s Syndrome as “a weakness” that was embarrassing, alienating, and set me apart from everyone and labeled me as “weird.” Only when a close friend several years ago set an amazing example for me did I understand why it was important for me to open up and share my experiences.
If you are suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome, I put all of this down on paper so that you would know that you aren’t alone. Being the only person in the room twitching, tic-ing, and making weird noises can make you feel like you are very alone. And when other people look at you while laughing and making snide comments, it can be quite painful.
When the uncontrollable movements go on and on and on, I know that it feels like your own personal Hell, one that will never end. And yes, it is absolutely torturous in the moment to think that it is possible that you will be dealing with these tics for the rest of your life.
My prayer for you is that you will read my story and see that there is life beyond the tics. Sometimes your Tourette’s will beat you up badly and it will be hard to see past your immediate, painful situation. Do not give up and do not give in. You have incredible gifts and blessings to share with the rest of us.
Click here to read the conclusion of this series of articles from the Introduction of my book, “You Can Do the Impossible, Too!” Now don your armor and get in the ring, my friend.
To read the first part of this story, click here for the first article in this series.
Above photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels.com.
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