Monday Mantra

“I am not synonymous with my illness(es).”

This is an important one. After years and years of dealing with chronic illness, it often starts to feel like we ARE our disease(s). However, there is a YOU (and a ME!) that is SO MUCH MORE THAN OUR ILLNESS(ES)! We cannot allow ourselves to be defined by what is “wrong” with us; even if you are in remission or even if you have acquired some amazing personality traits as a result of your illness, you are not your illness or getting past your illness, &c. As a corollary of sorts, BE WARY OF THOSE PEOPLE WHO TRY TO GAIN ATTENTION AND “HELP” BY UTILIZING THEIR ILLNESS(ES) AS AN EXCUSE OF SORTS! I do not mean at all to imply that we DO NOT NEED HELP when we have chronic illness(es) – in fact, I think help is often a key component not only in “feeling better” but in having a life that’s much larger than whatever “affliction(s)” you face. I just mean to be cautious of those who try to get others to feel badly for them because of their illnesses – the WORST thing (in my mind, at least) one can do in relation to chronic illness is to self-victimize – and trying to gain sympathy or more because you have some physical or other condition is evidence of a need to come to terms with one’s “disease” – and for those of us who already suffer from chronic illness, we just don’t need it! You might be able to help guide the person in the direction of “this is how you can help yourself,” but as I mentioned in my last post, YOU CANNOT CHANGE OTHER PEOPLE! Do not allow those who self-victimize to sap any of your energy and time – likely your most precious resources!

And if YOU have a tendency to self-victimize, take some time and evaluate what it is you’re trying to get that you’re missing in your life. What is the LACK in your life and is it justified? I will go back to my cat story as an example here – if I were still living in an apartment in which others came and went without my knowledge but all I wanted was to have my cat, that is NOT A “JUSTIFIED” LACK – that is simply me being concerned about me and not about my cat’s welfare. I realize that’s something of a tangential example, but just take some time to reflect on what it is you think you NEED or that you are MISSING and RATIONALLY list the steps you need to take in order to fulfill that need or to regain or find what you are “missing.” We all have bad times in which we are so sick we can’t get out of bed or out of the hospital, &c., and those are times when we really do need the help; however, this does not mean you should mope about and feel sorry for yourself and seek out all the “help” you can from others when you really can do the things for which you are seeking “help.” I promise if you start to do those things, it will only improve your perception of yourself and this projects outward so that others have a more “positive” view of who you are as a person – you will be regarded a strong, independent person (even with some help!) rather than someone who just has “all these problems.” You really don’t want to be the latter because it perpetuates in the opposite way – that is, you will increasingly start to regard yourself in a negative light. Recognize all the things you CAN do and think about how amazing that makes you given all you have to deal with; think about how fortunate you are not to need a wheelchair now or an oxygen tank or whatever it is you might have NEEDED in the past but don’t need now (or perhaps what you see others need that you thankfully do not need!). It is ALWAYS “better” to think of yourself as a capable INDIVIDUAL rather than feeling badly for yourself – it reflects both inward and outward.

I hope that was helpful! Thanks much for reading this and I hope you are all having a happy and healthy day!

❤ Always, Beth


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