Greetings fellow Sjoggie-Mates. Awhile back I wrote a post about: “Are We Our Signature Lines?” Essentially I questioned whether or not my Sjogren’s/Chronic Illness defines me. I am not quite sure what I decided at that time, but I have been giving it a whole lot of thought and consideration (which is where I have been for the last two months since my last post).
I was moved to start reading and researching about ” Mindfulness.” Have you ever met someone who is the happiest, kindest, friendliest, most patient, peaceful & positive person you think you’ve ever known? I have and I am married to him (lucky me!) I have always said to my friends, family & myself, that my husband is my role model. I love all of those wonderful attributes about him and others I meet who possess the same.
I have never really thought of myself as a “negative” person. I mean we can all look around and point our fingers at someone who is always negative and sees the glass half empty no matter what. Afterall, it is much easier to make a judgement about someone else rather than to take an honest assessment and magnifying glass of our own behaviors and characteristics..right?!
An Honest Look At Yourself
I think that we should all take a close look at ourselves and where our attitudes reside.I say this, not in an effort to point out our personal flaws, but as a way to examine how much our mental attitudes effect our wellness. I don’t think… I know that after years and years of chronic illness for as long as I can remember, my attitude slants heavily to the negative. And those negative tendencies tend to insidiously (just like the chronic illness of Sjogren’s) permeate my attitudes and approaches to other aspects of my life (personal and business).
I have to ask myself, as I think we should all do, how well these negative tendencies and responses are serving us? It is likely that we have all heard how much of a role a positive attitude plays in our healing and day-to-day functioning. I don’t know about you, but I have done a poor job of internalizing that reality..and it is a reality.
And The Survey Says…
Evaluate. Take a good, hard look at how you react and respond to the daily events and situations that you find yourself in. Cut off in traffic…what’s your response? Large appliance repair with limited finances, what’s the first thing out of your mouth? Huge doctor bills and insurance hassles…what’s your attitude? Never-ending pain and medicines that only marginally help or not at all, how’s that feel ? The new doctor you just saw, treated you like a neurotic head case…what thoughts ran through your mind? Your friend or family member pushing your hot buttons, how do you react? Do you see what I mean? We are all bombarded with daily situations and events that require us to choose our responses and attitudes to them. And yes…it is a choice.
These life situations happen every day to every one of us, but they do not have to automatically generate a snarling, ‘victim-is-me’ attitude. With the daily assault of life’s challenges, it is easy to see how we can all slide into a negative mode of functioning without our even realizing it. And let’s face it, chronic illness, just by virtue of everything that goes with it, is mostly negative. Most of us function on auto-pilot and for the most part, hardly look at how our mental state contributes to our physical health (at least this is true for many folks.) And unfortunately, the “keeping a positive attitude “ is not an occasional proposition. It doesn’t work unless we keep it and use it every day for everything we face. It needs to drive our lives in every thing that we do.
Have you ever noticed that when we go through our days..we tend to focus on the negative as opposed to the positive things that happen to us? Instead of focusing and sharing the positive events of our day..we pour out the horrible day we had like machine gun rapid fire to our spouses, significant others, friends or anyone who will listen. I think our media/social media sensationalize the negative and I can be guilty of that as well. And all of that negative, poor me stuff (day after day) has a way of shaping us into the overly negative people we really did not intend or want to be…can you relate? Has this happened to you?
So What’s The Answer?
Well, as they say, recognizing that there is a problem is part of the battle. So I suggest a lot of self-examination and introspection is in order. I am in that mode now and am discovering some wide-eyed revelations about myself. I also think that one has to commit to change. It is not easy to un-do years (or a lifetime) of negative conditioning. So why should we do this, what’s the benefit? As a Sjogren’s patient and support group leader, I am always researching Sjogren’s treatments and research developments to pass on to other Sjoggies. I know all of the gold standard medication treatments. Also, I see suggested autoimmune protocol/other diets and recommended herbs/ supplements. But what I don’t see emphasized, are ways that we can contribute to our own healing. The medical model as it exists, put us in the position of patient (victim). We are led to rely on western medicines and treatments. Yet, one of the most effective ways that we can help ourselves, which I might add is FREE, is not routinely talked about. And I am not talking about one of your doctors suggesting that you see a counselor, as many of us have heard. Because that can feel a lot like a slap in the face depending upon how it is presented. I am talking about a physician who truly understands and conveys the importance of maintaining a positive attitude for healing. There is a difference in how those words are presented to us and how we receive and act on them.
If you are finding yourself thinking Wow…maybe I am more negative than I realized, perhaps it is time to make a few changes. I will state the obvious, making a personal commitment to be more positive in your life, will never be a bad thing. But it could serve to make effective strides toward healing and how you accept and deal with your chronic illness on a daily basis.What would happen if each time you found yourself angry, frustrated, depressed, critical, fatalistic, fearful, etc., you stopped in that moment and asked yourself where is the emotion coming from? Also, ask yourself: Is this emotion serving me well? I read something a long time ago, that has helped me through the years in such moments. The piece that I read told me to ask myself in those challenging moments or times that I was anticipating or experiencing something bad..” What’s the worst thing that can happen?” Of course my negative mindset had loads of far-fetched scenarios that I could fill in the blank with. However, even the absolute worst scenario could happen and the conclusion is the same..there is nothing I can do about it because I have NO CONTROL over it. If it is going to happen, it will happen. And it is likely that whatever happens or has happened will not be the end of the world as I know it. So why waste time with it. Being negative and anticipating the worst, negative outcome that my overly active brain & imagination can come up with does not help me move forward, face problems effectively or help my physical healing.
Guess what? Making positive attitude changes has never been so easy. I have read about 6 books in the last few months..books that I bought on Amazon for one penny with a small shipping charge. I even got one book on my kindle a couple of nights ago..for FREE. I have also added meditation with healing imagery to my life changes. I find it very relaxing and wish I had started it years ago.
The bottom line is that you are the only one who can make positive changes in your life. No, you can’t control your diagnosis(es), but you can control your coping responses and attitude in general. And there is no point in being miserable in both body and attitude, right?!
So here’s to making positive changes in your life!
Namaste (I Bow To You)
SjoDry and Relaxed