When my illness reached its worst, I spent almost all of my time in bed (or on the couch). My life seemed completely out of my control. My health severely restricted any physical activity. I couldn’t earn enough money to support myself. And, if I wanted to read a book, I couldn’t as I didn’t have the cognitive ability to follow one paragraph to another.
I was like a marionette. Disease controlled the strings to my life.
I found I had power over only one aspect: my reaction to my situation. I had a couple choices:
- I could wallow endlessly in self-pity, anger and sadness until it ate away at my soul, leaving me a nasty, joyless person. Or,
- I could opt to see this devastating challenge as an opportunity—a time to give myself needed compassion, a period to grow my faith and increase my awareness of daily small incidents that infuse me with joy and gratitude.
In A Reluctant Spirit, I share a bad experience I had at a support group where a man embittered by disease made it his mission to spread his emotional scourge. He ridiculed those of us who believed we would overcome our infirmities.
I believe his negativity was so pervasive, he’d never find his way out of his misery. For he was determined to be the victim.
Miring yourself in negativity feeds into your fear that life or health won’t get better. It makes you focus on what’s wrong, instead of what’s working (i.e. the love and support of those around you, the beauty of a crisp blue sky day). Yes, you’ll encounter those valleys when you’re not sure you can endure, but it’s important that you lift yourself up and not dwell there long.
Wallowing in negativity fuels pessimism. Bad feeds bad. If you stay mired in this state, people won’t want to be around you. You won’t recognize the good happening, because you’re only focused on what you can’t have. The emotional stress you go through in this gloomy state won’t aid your health or well-being.
Choosing to be grateful for what you have and to react calmly, doesn’t mean you’re fooling yourself. You’ve evolved to know there is more to come in this life, and that today’s isn’t static. How you grow and prepare for what is to come is important. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be sad and cry, angry and shout or even throw yourself a pity party of one.
Every troubling time is an opportunity to learn about yourself. About how strong you really are. How resilient you can be. How strongly you can rely on your faith. And, how important it is to allow your loved ones to help you.
My doctor told me, “Miracles happen every day.” Don’t lose hope.