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Guest Post: Are Blind People Powerless? Tell Me This Isn’t True

Please tell me what I am hearing is not true

Mel Scott
Mel Scott

Since I started working on the BlindAlive project early this year, the comments I have received from sighted and blind alike have been overwhelmingly positive. From the instant the idea to create well described exercise workouts came into my head, I have been flooded by support from all directions. At times, it feels like magic. All this support helps me to keep going in spite of many challenges.

One thread of remarks keeps bubbling up which causes me to feel angry, sad, confused, and afraid. I am hearing things like, “Blind people only want government handouts. They aren’t interested in helping themselves.” Another remark I hear is, “Blind people want everything for free. They won’t pay for an exercise program.” Another is, “Blind people don’t care about their health. They just want to sit on the couch all day and do nothing.” These remarks are real. I am not making them up and they are coming from people who are blind. I suppose I might be naive and my head might be in the sand but I just don’t believe this is true. I refuse to believe that this is true.

At times, I know for a fact that being blind is a real bitch. I can cry, curse, and be overcome with depression and even despair. I know what it feels like to be excluded from games, parties, gatherings of all kinds because I can’t see. I know what it feels like not to be invited places because my friends are doing something that is so visual that it makes no sense for me to go with them. I know how it feels to stand in the middle of a room at a party with nobody to talk to and I am disoriented so there is nothing to do but stand there and act like I am relaxed and having a great time. I know exactly how it feels to slam into doors and have bruises on my face from open doors and low tree branches. This list could go on and on. I know many of you know what I am talking about. Being blind takes courage and determination to put one foot in front of the other. It is hard work.

There is no doubt that being blind has huge challenges but we do have control over how we choose to think about our circumstances. We can choose to train ourselves to think our way into being more confident, more content, and more healthy. It is not our lot in life to be poor, angry, depressed, and viewed as lazy and even ignorant. This is not who we are! We must not believe that this is true about ourselves! We can help ourselves and we can change how we are viewed by the world if we change our thinking.

You ask,”How do I change my thinking?”

The first step to changing your thinking is to become aware that you are having negative thoughts. Negative thinking is a habit and it can be broken by paying attention to your thoughts. Once you realize that you are saying, “I can’t learn to read braille or I can’t walk alone or I can’t afford organic food, then you can be aware and change the thought. You begin to say, “I can learn braille if I choose to,” or “I am going to learn how to walk alone.” The words we use are powerful and using the most powerful words will make us feel more powerful. We change our thoughts by changing our words even though it may feel uncomfortable to speak them.

I choose to use this formula every day and I know it works! Pay attention to your thoughts. Catch yourself in the act of negative thinking. Choose powerful words like “I choose to” and replace the victim words like “I can’t.” Say the new thoughts out loud. Your life will begin to change with your thoughts and your words. We as blind people can gain more respect because we choose to respect ourselves. We can choose to take responsibility for our thoughts and our words. We are in control. When we stop thinking of ourselves as “poor, unhealthy, tired, or depressed…” we can take small manageable steps in the direction we want to go. We can prove to the world that we are powerful, intelligent, and able to do most anything we choose, but it is our responsibility to choose it.

Mel Scott Founder and President
BlindAlive.com

32 thoughts on “Guest Post: Are Blind People Powerless? Tell Me This Isn’t True

  1. Thank you for following the journey of Phillip the Forgotten to Phillip the Fabulous in 30 Days. You are inspiring for all regardless of their vision or lack there of. My mother became blind at 55 from a progressive Macular Degeneration. She is that person you describe who complains on the coach all day in her pity party. Yet, sadly, she was that way before becoming blind. That’s why I feel getting involved in some area where you can use your talents and gifts for others is very important. Just because your eyes don’t work, doesn’t mean the rest of you is broken.

    1. You’re very welcome and thank you for stopping by here and reading my post. You have summed it up pretty well in that just because one part of us doesn’t work doesn’t mean the rest of us is broken. Your mom is the same age as me. I used to think 50 was old but as I’ve gotten older I keep pushing old age further out. But my point is, if at 55 we are blessed to live 30 more years I’d rather go down fighting than to give in but that’s just my opinion. Your mom reminds me of mine (she’s cranky, disabled and never lets any of us forget, a real joy to be around). Thank you again for your comments.

  2. You are a real hero! I have heard some of those comments and years ago, had a friend who went through so much difficulty staying emotionally on track as she lost her vision. I have been trying to get back to your post about your medical experiences and loss of vision, but can’t find it. Can you tell me the name of it?

    1. I’ve written a couple of posts on my situation but I think Women on the Move: Stephanae McCoy goes into a little more detail http://wp.me/p3cJBx-jr my sight is the equivalent of someone with advanced macular degeneration as I have no central vision.

  3. The comments you have received reflect the deep-seeded prejudice against blind people. You could just as easily replace “blind” with “black” or “immigrants” or most other marginalized minorities.

    The thing that sets blind people apart from other minorities is that the vast majority of us grew up sighted, and as such, learned these negative attitudes about blindness before we became blind ourselves. It’s the hardest thing rehab counselors have to deal with – convincing people that the opinions they have about blindness and what it means for a person’s independence, success and happiness are nothing but wide-spread lies.

    My personal “favorite” comment from sighted readers when I complain about accessibility is, “Don’t you have someone to help you with that?” But, that’s a whole ‘nuther issue. Great post. Keep up the good fight.

    1. My personal prejudice slapped me in the face when I lost my sight and I knew it but had the hardest time grappling with it because who wants to admit that they have a prejudice. I think this is where my shame came into play and I felt awful. And as stated in the article blindness was one of my greatest fears even though I had a blind childhood friend and I knew of her capabilities, I just couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to see.

    2. Hey Donna, I have to go back and read these comments I thought your response was for the post published today.

      1. Steph, sorry, I’m just trying to do a little catching up after being out of town and crazy busy.

      2. No worries Donna. I hope everything is going well with you.

  4. I have a mathematician friend who’s blind from birth but he’s definitely a very accomplished mathematician and his physical diffuclty doesn’t prevent him from achieving his goals.

    People say that blind people only want government handouts? I know a lot of young people who don’t have any disabilities but still don’t want to find a job and instead relying on government subsidies…

    1. Thank you! That’s one of the points I’ve been trying to convey on my blog. We have to be careful when making assumptions about anyone. Like many people I wasn’t born with a disability rather I developed it later in life but I know many people with disabilities who work harder than those without disabilities in an attempt to put the stereotypes to rest.

  5. Thank you for your kind remark Shataufan. I thought Mel did a remarkable job encouraging really everyone, no matter their situation to train ourselves to think positively.

  6. It takes a lot to control your thoughts but it takes very little for bad thoughts, with the challenges you face and the courage you find to control them makes you a very strong person.

  7. I love this post and I can’t help but to wonder at how myopic some human minds can be. Who exactly chooses to be blind and go through the challenges that lose of sight presents? It really begs sometimes to hold one’s tongue from going down the rabbit hole of tongue flaying people who say or think such things. I have an honorary uncle, indeed, one of my late dad’s closest friends, I grew up knowing him as an energetic fellow and it was truly an agonizing time to watch my uncle slowly and completely lose his sight to glaucoma. Till tomorrow, the image of the tears cascading down his face during my dates funeral remains stuck in my mind. If I have the power to re-create sight, he would be first on my list.

    1. Jacqueline, you took the words right out of my mouth. I’ve said this so many times, no one would choose to be blind. What people don’t understand is the number of folks who are totally blind is very small compared with those who have some usable form of vision that still impacts day to day living. Sight robbing diseases like Glaucoma can be tragic to someone who has had sight most of their life.

      So many times when I’m out with others and I’m using my white cane people will stop and stare and it can be unsettling because all any of us (sighted and vision impaired) are trying to do is live our lives. The white cane allows me to move about independently regardless of whether it looks like I can see. I’ve learned that things aren’t always as they appear.

      1. Not at all. They are never always what they seem to be. I know people who have some form of impairment and they are still very much independent, productive and highly talented.

      2. Yes, and then there are others who have a disability and you’d never know unless they chose to disclose that information.

  8. It’s easy to get stuck in negative thinking. You shine a light and break up darkness with this excellent, empowering message, Mel.

    1. Yes it is easy to get stuck and I like how Mel took us through the thought process and then ended on an exceptionally high note.

    2. I am just now reading all these comments. They are making me feel so good. Thank you so much.

      1. Mel, thank you for all you do!! You are a pioneer in accessible fitness for people who are blind as well as sighted folks. Thanks!!

  9. This is a wonderful post. I have never known a “blind person” and I can’t believe people actually say that kind of thing. It;s so hurtful….but your idea of controlling our thoughts is exactly the right medicine for what ails us…no matter what that ailment might be. 🙂

    1. Yes indeed. What I really like most about this post is that it is relevant to anyone in any given situation. Words/thoughts are powerful and when we can get a grip on them well, it makes life a little easier.

      1. Exactly. That’s what makes it so compelling.

  10. Wonderful post that can help us all!

    1. Thank you Lynz!! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  11. This should make everyone who is lucky enough to have sight view the issues of those who do not in a much more serious and sobering light. It is in fact an inspiring piece for anyone who has a disability or is restricted in any way.Sometimes the way we think of such situations is the ultimate restriction.

    1. You are spot on Bruce. When we gain control of our thoughts there is almost nothing that can keep us from achieving what we desire in life. Our thoughts can debilitate us or lift us up. We are who we think we are.

  12. Very inspirational post, thank you. I got a lump in my throat reading about the social challenges of being blind. I think we can all learn from trying to break negative thinking.

    1. Amen to that Caroline!! Thank you

  13. This so inspiring! I am not blind, but I do have some physical challenges, and this really encouraged me. My husband is legally blind. I can’t wait to tell him about it. I know it will encourage him, too.

    Blessings,
    Theresa

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