Hill Holders for Life


By Mark E. Smith

In the realm of manual wheelchair technology, there’s a mechanism commonly called a “hill holder.” As you push up a hill, the hill holder works as an automatic, one-direction brake – the wheelchair can’t roll backward, only forward, allowing ultimate progress pushing up the hill. In fact, even on the steepest of hills, you can push forward, let your hands off of the wheels, and the wheelchair stays right where you want it, guaranteeing constant progress.

I often think that we need hill holders in life – emotionally, mentally, financially, physically, spiritually. We need a mechanism that prevents backward slides on our momentum. You’ve heard the saying, Two steps forward, one step back… well… that’s our hill holders not working.

No, if we’re to learn, grow, and succeed, we need hill holders firmly in place, where we only go forward in life, not backward. Have you ever paid off your credit cards, only to use them again? Have you ever struggled with an addiction, only to start again? Have you ever vowed to stay out of unhealthy relationships, only to get in yet another one? Have you ever vowed to diet and workout, only to overindulge and go back to being a couch potato? In whole, have you ever tried to make positive changes, forward momentum in life, only to end up going backward, to old patterns? Most of us have, for any number of reasons – returning to negative comfort zones, being scared of progress, low self-esteem… self-sabotaging roots. I know, I’ve been there, and still find myself there at times!

But, that’s where real life hill holders come into play – when things get tough, they keep us from going backward, from losing momentum, from throwing away great progress in our life.

I met an acquaintance who had completely turned around his whole life. He went from divorced, broke, alcoholic, and spiritually bankrupt to having a soul mate, a great career, not drinking, and becoming a pastor – all in about six years. Now, six years is a long time, but to make such complete, radical changes over any period is impressive. When I asked him his secret to success, he said that it started with personal accountability – the ultimate hill holder – but then he went the extra step and only surrounded himself with people who brought out excellent in him (even if we’re not savvy enough to catch ourselves off of track, let’s at least surround ourselves with those who care enough to catch us).

My acquaintance is a great example of installing hill holders in our lives. We may be compelled to go backward toward that which is bad for us – it’s easier to roll back down the hill than to push up it! However, if we do that, our lives never improve, and we never succeed. Instead, hill holders keep our forward momentum, where despite being scared or self-sabotaging or lazy, accountability and our support network kicks in to bolster our progress.

Be brave enough to use hill holders in your life, and you”ll achieve greater vistas than you ever imagined.


Author: Mark E. Smith

The literary side of the WheelchairJunkie

2 thoughts on “Hill Holders for Life”

  1. Mark,
    in my opinion, supportive people is the number one hill holder one can have in life. And sometimes putting those people in place is the hardest thing to do. In this excellent analogy, you have identified just what support is! Thanks for another ‘Things that make me go…hmm.”

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