If you are disabled you probably have been called inspiring more times than you can count. I have nothing against people calling disabled people inspiring if you truly mean it but unfortunately most people don’t and only say when they see our disabilities. A disabled person going to the store and buying a gallon of milk is not inspiring because we are only doing what most people would and getting milk for our cereal. How do you know if a disabled person is inspiring if you just meant them at the store because for all you know they could be a total whiner and the complete opposite of inspiring. Some disabled people are changing lives and have made such a positive impact on others that I would consider them inspiring but not all disabled people are doing something super incredible because a disability isn’t what makes someone inspiring but actions do. A disabled person needs to be doing something extraordinary to earn that title but unfortunately, we don’t have to be doing anything for abled people to consider us inspiring and a disability is good enough for most people. In this post, I am going to talk about why you should only call disabled people inspirational if you truly believe it .
Some people aren’t inspiring- There are tons of disabled people who are changing lives and I would qualify them as inspirational people but there are tons of negative disabled people who are the complete opposite of that. Disabled people that sit around and complain about how horrible life is and every conversation started is “when I am cured” I wouldn’t say are inspirational. There is nothing wrong with being negative sometimes as a disabled person because life is hard but if you are nothing but negative you shouldn’t praise that because it’s feeding into someone’s negativity and is not helping anyone. Change will not happen if you are constantly telling disabled who do nothing but complain that it’s okay to act that way. A disability is not what automically makes you inspiring but it’s how you talk about yourself and the message to bring to others.
Actions are what make someone inspirational- A disability is what makes disabled people different but being disabled doesn’t automatically make you an inspirational person but actions do. When a disabled person goes to the grocery store and buys themselves some fruit it’s not an amazing deed that we have accomplished because we are just living our lives like abled people are. Can you imagine if disabled people started talking like that and praised abled people for buying a gallon of milk? You would think it’s kind of silly and be like I needed milk for my cereal so I kind of had to go to the store. Disabled people sometimes need assistive devices to complete certain tasks but we are just living our lives because like abled people we need to run errands to survive. Actions are what a disabled person inspiring not the fact we were able to get out of bed and live life because we do that every day. If someone is not doing some incredible and making an impact on someone’s life you don’t have to call them inspiring because they may not be.
The word inspiring has lost its meaning- If you want to compliment a disabled person and have it actually mean something you probably should say anything but you are inspiring because we hear it all the time and the word inspiring loses it’s meaning when you say it to everyone. When someone calls me inspiring I take it like a grain of salt and it doesn’t mean anything to me because it’s such an overused term that everyone says to disabled people when they see our disabilities. Some people may truly mean it but because it’s said to me so much and often only when people see my disability I can’t take it seriously. I know some people may think I am inspiring but it’s hard to accept a compliment when you never know if someone truly thinks your an inspiration or if they are just associating that with your disability.
Some disabled people are inspiring but because this is such an overused term and abled people say it to everyone with a disability it’s not much of a compliment to disabled people. If you know a disabled person who you honestly think are inspirational people it’s okay to tell them that but if you tell every disabled person that it becomes less meaningful to people that are making a difference. Some disabled people are inspirational because they are putting in the work to change people’s lives but some people don’t do anything incredible with their lives and you shouldn’t tell them they are inspirational when they are not. Abled people often give disabled people compliments because they think we need it but we don’t need them as much as you think we do and most certainly don’t need fake ones. Many compliments abled people give us don’t mean anything to us because we hear the exact same thing over and over again and it’s said to all disabled people. I don’t think anything of it when people call me inspiring because often people only say it when they see my disability. It’s fine to tell disabled people that truly has changed your life but you shouldn’t say to every disabled person because it will mean more when you only say it when you mean it. What are your thoughts of people calling you inspiring for being disabled?
I read all comments because I love hearing your thoughts but please be kind, keep all comments relevant to the post you are commenting on and your language clean. You don’t have to agree with everyone but you should be respectful of everyone’s different points of view because rude comments toward me or any other commenters will not be tolerated. If you see that someone is struggling it’s okay to offer support but please do not give out any kind of medical advice in the comment section of my blog even if you are a doctor because I am not qualified to diagnose anyone and can be held liable if it’s bad advice. The comment section of my blog is not for promoting yourself and any links that are dropped without my permission will be deleted without warning. If you violate my policy your comment will be edited or completely removed from my site.
100% agree. It can often come off as condescending. People should focus compliments like inspiring on people’s actions, not the way they’ve been born.
A real honest look at this with some really important points to think about. It’s a weird one, isn’t it? I think those with disabilities or chronic illnesses are labelled inspiring just because of what they live with, even though there’s no choice (well, I suppose technically there’s a “choice” to give up but you get what I mean). I know a lot of folks who I would say are inspiring to me, but that’s not based on them having a condition or disability, it’s based on the things they do, the person they are, their outlook on life, etc. Calling someone inspiring can come across poorly sometimes too, like Travis saying about how it can come off as condescending sometimes. I think “you inspire me” can be a little better if the way someone is or something they’re doing has ignited something in you or motivated you in some way, but it shouldn’t be ‘just’ because someone is disabled or ill. Thought-provoking post, Sarah! 🙌 xx
My Rockin Disabled Life
It is weird how people label all disabled and chronically ill people inspiring for just being disabled because it’s like you said there wasn’t really much of a choice. I know a lot of people like yourself who I would consider inspiring but I don’t solely base that on their disability or sickness and it’s the type of person they are and the impact they have made on others etc that sets inspiring people separate from those who aren’t. It is sad that the word inspiring can come across so poorly because there are inspiring disabled people but since it’s such an overused term it’s often overlooked and not taken seriously!