Monday Motivation

I want to start “categorizing” some of these posts so they are not just the random thoughts based on my “perspective” as a “spoonie;” of course I will continue those kinds of posts, but I thought I would utilize some of the “hashtag”able days of the week ideas here – it is a great way to organize some of my thoughts when my mind is all over the place! Here we go!

I have mentioned it before here and I know I have mentioned it in other places, but I just want to reiterate the important point that with something like chronic illness, especially with very long-lasting and severe chronic illness, there are essentially only two “choices” one can make regarding how one proceeds with his or her life and dealing with chronic illness and the incalculable ways it affects “life” in general – 1. one can keep on fighting despite what the past has dealt him or her and what the future seems to hold, or 2. one can become bitter and self-victimizing. These “choices” occur more or less after the “basic stages of grief” (long-lasting and/or severe chronic illness is very much like a loss or a death – see “What’s the Point?” and basically anything I have written!) when one enters a period of repetition with the illness, whether that manifests as recurring hospitalizations, recurring infections, or whatever your illness might bring to you on a “regular” basis. I will discuss at greater length how to avoid falling into the traps of self-victimization at another time; however, in these “Monday Motivation” posts, I will try to provide you (anyone with chronic disease / chronic illness or really anyone who has fallen into any sort of “rut” in life and doesn’t really see a way out – they are not quite the same, but I do feel like the tips provided here can help people with a wide range of issues) with some basic “tips” to help you feel strong and help you to stay motivated, no matter what you are up against. All of these “tips,” of course, are easier said than done; just pushing through day in and day out with chronic illness takes an immense strength and commitment on the part of the person dealing with chronic illness (as if we didn’t have enough to fight through!).

We often hear that fighting hardships of any kind “make us stronger.” I can speak from far too much personal experience that there comes a definitive point at which you have just had it – at this point in time, after fighting with my chronic illnesses for over a decade, I often find myself fighting with “God” / the universe screaming “I DON’T NEED OR WANT TO BE ANY STRONGER!” This is the basis for what I want to discuss today – the fact that no matter how tired we are and how much we have been through and for how long, the universe and life in general are inherently chaotic and thus necessarily unfair. We, to the best of our knowledge, have no “say” in the external events that occur to us (we can control certain things, yes, like how well we eat and exercise, and we can control how we react or respond and IF we react OR respond) but in general, if we are taking care of our bodies to the greatest extent possible, there is only so much we can control, only so many things over which we exert power (the very intense topic / debate of free will necessarily follows from this line of inquiry … but I will save that for a later discussion as well!). There is always the question of whether or not we control anything; the related questions regarding the degree to which we have control if we do and how and why follow from this question (and thus fields such as epistemology). For now, however, I just want you to focus on your RESPONSE to the inherent “unfairness” of the universe; it may seem counterintuitive, but remember that you are a very tiny organism within the massive and always expanding universe – that the time your life occupies isn’t even a blip on the universe’s radar. For me, at least, this helps me bring myself back to reality and helps me to focus on how relatively small my issues and suffering are even in the scope of my life which, in turn, helps to motivate me to focus on projects and goals that I want to accomplish – that is, if I am such a small part of a massive system, I have a lot to do to “make my mark,” and I feel incredibly driven to do so. Do not think about your suffering in comparison with that of others – it doesn’t change your suffering or theirs. Start to become aware of the difference between responding and reacting. Reacting is the simple “biological” behavior that occurs in the “acknowledgment” of a certain external stimulus; a “reaction” to another severe infection after you have just become well would be something like rage and resentment. “Responding,” however, entails the cognitive processing of a “reaction” to an event, therefore subsequent actions to that event are not “gut reactions” but thought out returns to whatever stimulus has engaged you. An example of “responding” to the aforementioned situation would be to sit and think and to remember you have done everything you can do to get well and this is just another “minor setback;” that you did, in fact, beat the previous infection and you will utilize that to move on and allow your body the peace and rest it needs to heal from this infection. Knowing the difference between the two helps you to deal with “negative” things that happen to you in a more “positive” way; at the very least, you can deal with these “setbacks” in a more objective way, realizing you are not the “target” of the universe and that these things simply happen. I think this is good advice not just for those of us dealing with chronic illness but for everyone. It is important to remember – as I wrote last week – that you never know what other people are going through; furthermore, you never know how big or small something is to someone else. Getting a flat tire, for instance, might seem like a trivial event to you but it might not only ruin someone else’s day but it might severely impact his or her day and cause him or her to run into problems with work, family, &c. &c. The point of all of this is that you never know what another person is facing and therefore you cannot really compare your life circumstances and level of suffering to that of another person; furthermore, your reaction is really all you have control over in certain situations, and it is important both to put into perspective the scope of the situation (or infection, or whatever the “problem” might be) and to learn to “respond” to that situation rather than allow yourself to blindly react. If you can start to work on doing this, I guarantee you will start to feel more at peace both with yourself and your illness (or whatever you are dealing with in life!).

I hope that was at least somewhat helpful! I hope to be back here tomorrow, although I am in the process of moving so things are a little crazy right now (especially balancing appointments with doctors and health problems and treatments with moving!). At any rate, I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day wherever you are in the world! Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a wonderful end of July!

❤ Always, Beth


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