Is Inspiration A Bad Thing?


“If you don’t know me, then don’t tell me I inspire you,” she wrote.

When I read the above statement, I had to read it a second time.  Wow, I thought, someone has had enough.  I wonder what happened.  Was it a specific “I am fed up” moment?  Or, was her aggravation a compilation of  unwanted “back slappings?” 

Whatever had triggered her reaction, it had denotated an explosion of words.  Her anger told a story of the internal angst that grew to the point of pushing people away.  Obviously, she didn’t feel as if they knew her and her struggles.  Maybe this is what she meant when she wrote, “If you don’t know me, then don’t tell me I inspire you.”

Over the last several years, people tell me I inspire them.  It’s an odd experience because I don’t feel inspiring.  In fact, I am not given to such ideals.  Energy is leaking out of my muscles as if I were running on a bad battery.  With no way to recharge my ions, I am consumed by living – today – in this moment.  I have no alacrity to spend on being inspiring.   My drivers are simple emotions:  don’t give up, do as much as I can, make every moment count, and love and encourage others.

I can’t speak for the author of the above quote.  However, I can tell you about me and what the word “inspire” triggers.  For the first few years, an emotional weight was placed my back the moment someone told me I inspired them.  I felt confused.  What did they mean?  My thoughts were as jumbled as my bewilderment.  Oh, no, they think I am Herculean.  At some point, I will disappoint them.  What do they expect from me?  I am not sure what it is, but I am already carrying a heavy load.  Most certainly, I don’t feel capable of anticipating their needs.  What if I fail at it?  How can I be inspiring when it takes my all to just get through the day?  I wonder what I inspire in them?  Do I motivate them?  Are they galvanized?  If so, to do what?

I guess that was the crux of the problem for me: I interpreted their words to mean that I was fulfilling an unspecified need of theirs.  My perception of the transaction carried a meaning not intended by the other person.  All on my own, I took a kind word and turned it into a duty to perform.

Recently, someone took that burden off my shoulders with a simple qualifying statement.  They said, “You inspire me to keep trying.”  Bells ringing, lights flashing, and clouds whisked away.  Ah, ha, they are inspired.  Whatever they are facing, whatever trouble is looming in their life, they are motivated to keep going.  Good.  I am glad.  They are encouraged.

All along, people have been giving me a gift.  A kind word and a gentle love.  No burden or pressure to perform.  It was never about me doing for them.  They are trying to encourage me, to give me something in return.  They are attempting to make a deposit in my “bank of good feelings.”  It was my goals being lived out in others.

They are galvanized to not give up, do as much as they can, make every moment count, and love and encourage others.  They are inspired.  It is a good thing.

Even if you don’t know me, I hope you are inspired.


Published by

Rose Wolfe (Living Free with disAbilities)

Let's get to the elephant first: I have myotonic dystrophy which defines my physical limitations, but it does not define me. Without the distraction of physical activities, I have found my passions: (1) Encouraging others to live more fully with fun, faith, and hope; (2) finding freedom in oil painting; (3) writing about my experiences; and (4) encouraging others to live more passionately. It is my belief that every person lives with at least one disability - for impairments are not limited to those with chronic illnesses. Many neurotypical people are psychological architects who have constructed enclosures in which they trap themselves. Mindsets, attitudes, and perceptions are fluid realities. Many of us have forgotten that it is possible how to live beyond our disabilities. Life may have challenges but faith and hope are within reach. I have made my choice: I am LivingFreeWithdisAbilities.

28 thoughts on “Is Inspiration A Bad Thing?”

  1. What a lovely post, Rose! It’s your smile that inspires me, and that twinkle in your eye that shows your determination to be a lover of life, a praiser of God, and a blessing to others through difficult circumstances. Great beauty emanates from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah yes. As I face my own struggles and short comings and goings your words inspire me to never give up or in or out. I barely know you and yet your honest hard look at reality gives courage to me to do the same.

    You encourage me. Is that rubbing up too closely to inspiration? Peace Rose.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Rose,
    Great post, you always give me something to think about when I read your blog. You bring up a very good point, I see how giving someone praise might make the recipient feel pressure, especially if they have doubts surrounding what you seem to be complementing. All too often we ate so self critical, unnecessarily. We are our own worse critic.

    It is much better to be more specific than just leave a general comment. I will be sure to do this myself in the future.

    You inspire me by openly and honestly sharing your everyday thoughts and experiences with life and with disability. I have found it difficult to be open with people about my own disabilities and tend to avoid details about it. I want to share my story on my own blog but am not sure where to start since it has been such a long journey. Start at the beginning? Start with today?

    I also admire your writing style. It is as if I am reading a professional writer’s essays.

    One compliment that I have trouble with, giving, receiving, or reading. “I am proud of you.” Why do people say that to a stranger or casual acquaintance? To me, being proud of someone should require the giver to have had some vital role in bringing about the situation. How can you be proud of their accomplishment if you didn’t have anything do do with it? Maybe I have misunderstood the intent of those words?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for reiterating my point that praise can often be difficult for the recipient. We can be too self critical. I wonder why?

      Your point that we should be more specific when giving a compliment is good advice.
      I am thrilled that you want to share your own story. Start anywhere. As you go along, the pieces will fit together. When you write, you will find your voice. Also, I often learn something about myself in the process. Each post takes me days or weeks to complete because they need to percolate. Thus, I makes discoveries along the way. Sometimes, the thrust of the post changes entirely.
      Thank you for compliment in my writing style. I try to keep it as if I were talking. Early on, I wrote more formally. Once I let go of the business writing rules, everything started to click.
      The “I am proud of you” comments probably gives you trouble because it is nonspecific. Your earlier point. Also, it could be your interpretation of the word.
      When people give compliments, I want to accept them as gifts. I have a terrible habit of rejecting compliments. I want to change in that area.
      Maybe, people just like you. I know I do.


  4. This is a positive way of receiving the compliment that you inspire someone. I notice that this can make some people who are struggling angry, they don’t want to be someone’s ‘inspiration’. I personally think it is (most times) meant in a nice sense – they try to understand your difficulties and cannot imagine how you manage, and therefore, want to say something supportive…like you say. 🙂
    Love + hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Because of responses I have received it has left me thinking about this idea as well. I believe inspiration is received when one writes from the heart and can convey an underlying sense of hope despite facing personal challenges. When you write you touch people at a level that they can relate, no pretense or posturing. The picture you paint looks authentic. We aren’t left wondering whether we’re looking at a well disguised forgery.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow, that is a thought provoking statement and a well constructed blog post.

    It is extraordinary, the way that we interpret words. Your example of how what was intended to be an encouragement became a burden. Our life is littered with such things, how many little girls when praised by parents for being pretty end up believing that their only worth is to be beautiful.

    Your post demonstrates that the power lies within is, we can choose the meaning behind those words and decide on wether or not we accept them.

    Jung suggested ‘there is no truth, merely our interpretation of what is said’ it falls within us to make that choice for good.

    Which is where you ended up!

    Sadly, I am aware that I spend far to much time seeking out the slightest criticism in the smallest of interactions. Positivity takes a whole heap of self love and determination at times to learn. I’d like to think I am changing, but I fall off the wagon often.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, thank you for your kind words regarding my post. Second, your example of a parent’s compliment turning into a lifelong self-perception was excellent. I like the Jung quote. I have a similar take on reality. We do hold the power in our minds to interpret. Having a positive self image requires a positive outlook. It is hard work. Obviously, I am still working on it, too. I am trying to train myself to accept a compliment when given. Again, thank you for your thought provoking comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Rose, you know you are my hero for many more ways than the way you live, which huge in itself, but because of who you are in Christ. He shines through you in your pain. I know your history, I know your present. You a the Light that shines on the path. It is He who shines through you. That is your inspiration and it is evident to all who admire your persistence, your attitude, your wisdom, dear friend. I love you.

    Liked by 2 people

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