As I mentioned in our last Wellness Wednesday post, we’re nearing Thanksgiving here in the states, and I’ve been thinking a lot about all I have to be thankful for. My list is long this year. Would I include fibromyalgia on that list? No, I certainly wouldn’t. I’d much rather be hiking, waterskiing, swimming with the manatees – all those fun things – instead of having to pace everything I do and carefully consider every commitment I make.
HOWEVER I AM THANKFUL for the lessons it’s taught me over the last few years. Here are just a few:
What others think of you doesn’t matter.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” Those are some great words to live by right there. We often worry so much about what others think of us that we do what’s “expected” of us rather than what’s best for us. Learning to worry less about what others think and what we really need can help us to concentrate on the things that move us forward.
Your attitude does matter.
I mean, it really matters! It’s something we all know intellectually, but when you live with an illness that affects every area of your life, you learn just how important having a positive attitude really is. I’m not talking about always being “happy” or having a Pollyanna-ish outlook on everything. I’m just talking about remaining optimistic regardless of our circumstances. As I talked about in my post The ABCs Of Remaining Optimistic, we may not always feel optimistic, but we can choose to have an attitude of optimism.
Be kind to yourself.
We don’t always need to be so hard on ourselves. I know for me personally, I’ve always had high expectations of myself and it’s easy to feel disappointed when I don’t live up to my high standards. I’m sure part of that came from my military career, but a lot of it is just how I’m wired. It’s important, though that we give ourselves the same grace we extend to others. We also need to learn that self-criticism doesn’t serve us well and we need to let it go.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak.
Many of us were raised to think we had to be independent; that we shouldn’t need to ask others for help; that needing help meant we were weak. The truth is, though, asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Everybody needs a little help sometimes and there’s no shame in asking for assistance if you need it.
You are your own best advocate when it comes to your healthcare.
I’ve heard so many horror stories of how others have been treated by their doctors because of their invisible illnesses. I’ve been extremely fortunate, and my family doctors I’ve had since my diagnosis have been very familiar with fibromyalgia, but many aren’t. Whether it’s an acute issue or chronic illness, it’s vitally important that we educate ourselves and work in partnership with our doctors to find our ideal treatment plan. Nobody knows our bodies better than we do, and partnering with our doctor can result in better healthcare results.
Decide what’s really important to you and live according to those priorities.
Let’s face it – we just can’t do everything. Even people who are perfectly healthy can’t get everything done. Since most of us live with limited energy, it’s especially important to find out what’s s really important to us and concentrate on things that support those values/priorities.
Although fibromyalgia is not something I would have chosen, and not something I’m particularly grateful for, it has broadened my perspective and taught me some important lessons.
What lessons have you learned from your chronic illness? Please share!