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."