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6 Cliché Phrases You’ll Never Hear From the “Paralyzed Bride”

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Inspiration is something many of us are looking for. Something to give us that kick in the rear we need to meet our goals, gain happiness 0r to find meaning in events that we just can’t explain. I didn’t ask for the role as a motivator, but it’s something I’ve learned to embrace because I enjoy seeing someone comforted with my words.

As soon as a catastrophic injury like mine happens, people look to you for strength when they see that your life altering event didn’t totally break you. But I’m not your typical motivator. There are some phrases out there that I think people overuse. I think people expect me to throw them into my motivational talks or use them to comfort someone I just met with a new injury. But I don’t spew your typical cliché advice. Here are some words of encouragement and comfort you’ll never hear from me.

1) What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I love the sentiment because many challenges we face do in fact make us stronger. But this quote generalizes all of life’s troubles implying that no matter the severity of an event you’ve experienced, your sure to gain strength. If I were giving advice to someone who just broke up with an overbearing boyfriend, I might agree a woman could gain confidence and strength from such an event even if she felt like she couldn’t go on. Would I say this to someone who has been raped and abused their whole life? Probably not. I think we can use our strength in spite of a traumatizing experience though.

2) The only disability in life is a bad attitude.

As someone with a disability, I think I’m supposed to be regularly posting selfies of me doing something independently with this quote underneath the picture. But the truth is there are disabilities that keep me and many others from doing so many things regardless of how awesome our attitude is. To me this quote is saying, “Hey, if you’re upset about having a disability, then you have a crappy attitude.” Can’t I be positive and happy but still be fully aware that my disability holds me back sometimes?

3) Everything happens for a reason.

I think people desperately want an answer for why something terrible has happened in their lives so they can more easily come to terms with it. But I refuse to believe any higher power has this plan for who gets attacked, violated, murdered or paralyzed for the good of humanity. If this were the case then you couldn’t hate criminals who may have wrecked havoc on someones life. They are just carrying out history that’s already been written right? I don’t think so. It’s ok to hate a tragic event and wish that it had never happened.

4) Where there’s a will there’s a way.

There are people out there who have dedicated their lives to achieving a specific goal. People who have given up everything to pursue their dreams. The determination and willpower of these people cannot be beaten. But unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a bunch of willful people to be fighting for the same dream, leaving many with crushed dreams. Do I think those who lose out just didn’t try hard enough? Not at all. And no I don’t think it’s because it “wasn’t meant to be.”

5) God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle.

I don’t believe god is the cause of pain, hate and sadness. I’m not sure what’s out there, but if there is a higher power, I’d like to think he is mourning our tragedies with us and not brushing his hands off after completing some preplanned devastation. And there are people who can’t handle it. That’s why they’ve either checked out mentally or physically. And I wouldn’t encourage them by saying this awful event is your prize in life for being a strong person.

6) Instead of having a bad day, be thankful you have the day.

You can be thankful and still have a totally awful day. I think this quote is kind of like a guilt trip in a pretty package. If your upset and want this horrible day to end, it doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful. Never feel guilty for having a bad day. We are all allowed to have them.

Of course this is just my opinion, but ultimately saying things like this only minimizes painful events and often leave the real problem glossed over. A horrific experience doesn’t always make you stronger, I don’t think god intentionally dealt you a bad hand and it’s ok if you feel like you can’t handle it. You have the power and you have choices. When you feel sad, scream into your pillow if you need to, cry your eyes out but most importantly, realize that you never deserved to feel this pain. Do what you can to heal and move on.

Here’s a quote for you: “Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

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About Rachelle Friedman

Rachelle Friedman is a c6 quadriplegic who was paralyzed at her bachelorette party in 2010 during innocent horseplay by the pool just weeks before her wedding. Her story went international and has been featured on the Today Show, CNN, HLN, MSNBC, VH1 and other various media outlets. Since then she has become a motivational speaker, blogger, ambassador for the spinal cord injury community and author of her new book "The Promise." Rachelle and her husband Chris currently reside just outside of Raleigh, N.C., and are looking to start a family in the near future.


4 Responses

  1. avatar John McGuirk says:

    I’ve always struggled with the ‘inspirational quotes’ that go round social network platforms and yet a quick assessment reveals that they do get the most shares. I struggle to explain it. Maybe people just don’t know what else to say, and are trying, in their own way, to help?

    Thanks for this post. It made sense for me.

  2. avatar Maria says:

    I LOVE this post and agree with everything Rachel said! Word. Amen. Preach this realness, girl! Love it.

  3. avatar Annae Jones says:

    Rachelle, that is a really thought-provoking article and so refreshing. Thank you for being so honest. I agree with so much of what you said :-)

    Just curious what you would say instead to people? That would be an interesting article as well :-)

  4. Thank you Rachel for your insight! The use of clichés to try to “INSPIRE” someone to overcome whatever difficulties they are living with and trying to overcome is just a cheap copout!
    Giving someone inspiration has to come from your heart and if you don’t have a heart or any human feelings, please just say nothing and walk away- send a Hallmark card if it makes you feel better! God Bless you Rachel!

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