Saturday, July 16, 2011

Stolen Identity

Years ago when I worked as editor of a fitness magazine, I published an article about staying motivated on an exercise routine. It delineated the types of motivation:

Negative Consequence Motivators: If I don't exercise I'll get fat, my husband will leave me, I’ll die of a heart attack, etc.

Positive Consequence Motivators: If I exercise I'll feel better, I can buy myself new clothes, etc.

Identity motivators: I exercise because that's part of who I am.

They can all work. But the most effective is the last one because, psychologically, it's hard to give up a piece of our identity.

Coming to terms with changes in my identity as a result of the stroke has been the most challenging part of my recovery so far. After I began to realize the impact of my physical limitations, I cried a lot. I thought I was depressed, but a psychotherapist told me I was grieving. I grieved the auntie who got down on the floor and played with the kids. I grieved the domestic superwoman who took care of house, husband and garden. I grieved the yoga student with an almost-perfect triangle pose.

Now, stroke survivor is part of my story. I'm looking forward to a time when it is no longer my headline … when I can look back at the experience and see how it led me someplace amazing I wouldn't otherwise have gone. And then I can say, "No, I wouldn’t give up this piece of who I am."


  1. I think "survivor" is a key part of your identity. That's who you are--a survivor and a great one at that. It's horribly difficult to find the good in anything so bad, and yet you will. Thanks for the tip on the identity motivator. I'm going to try to put it to use rightaway.

  2. Marcelle, it's as though you got up today and wrote a personal note to me. Yes, I grieve for my lost identities and, yes, I am a survivor, albeit a survivor in a leaky rowboat right now. But I WILL SURVIVE Thanks for your insights, Marcelle, they really help.

  3. Again, a brilliant entry that I wish I had posted.

  4. A stroke gives people a leg up on identity crisis. When my grandparents retired many people didn't survive after 70. With better preventative health care baby boomers have to figure out a whole new life that may last for 20 to 30 years after they retire. How much TV can you watch? How much golf can you afford to play on an income that is substantially less than people are accustomed to?

  5. You never cease to amaze and inspire me Marcelle. I'm so grateful to have dear friend that demonstrates consistent commitment to be the best we can be wherever we are in our journey. Thank you for expressing who you are and for being a wonderful example. Lots of Love, -Dianne