If you have a chronic and progressive illness, it can have an impact on how you view yourself. You may start to think of yourself as being worthless, especially if you are unable to do things that you used to be able to do.
You may feel guilty, as if you have done something wrong, to deserve your affliction.
You may feel embarrassed, especially if you are unable to work, or even perform some tasks like other people.
You may discover that you are frequently “buying” the barrage of negative thoughts that flood your mind.
You may even allow your mind to trick you into allowing your thoughts and feelings to bully you – to tell you what to do, or what not to do.
For example when your mind tricks you by saying: “I don’t feel as though doing anything would make a difference anyway, so why bother trying”.
You are not your thoughts, nor are you – your feelings.
Thoughts and feelings come and go. They can be influenced by our situation, from coping with illness, or even more directly, by the illness impacting the neurochemistry of our brain.
So what, am I just supposed to ignore these powerful thoughts and feelings? Yeah right!
No. If it only it were that easy. It is extremely difficult to see ourselves as being separate from our thoughts and feelings.
You (like most all of us) have spent a lifetime listening to our brain, and trusting it!
So what do I do?
Right now, I suggest taking an initial step, by just keeping things simple, and just do…
Do activities that are healthy for you. Treat yourself as you would treat someone that you deeply care for, and who needs your love in your best moments.
Does that mean that you don’t rest when you are tired, sick, or incapacitated physically? No.
The “just doing” suggestion is also not in any way intended to imply that you do something that will likely cause you harm – like going skating despite a problem with balance.
What the “just do” suggestion does mean, is that, if we waited until we were “ready” or “up to it”, before we started performing a single action, that we know would be healthy for us, we may end up procrastinating indefinitely.
In other words, the idea here is, to further what we are working on, which is to break the pattern produced by dark emotional states of our mind. Again, our depressed, stressed, or coping mind will sometimes convince us that we are not worthy of doing things that are healthy for ourselves (or that lead us to that kind of life that we would gain us deeper meaning and purpose).
Let’s stand up to the bully of our unworkable thoughts and unworkable emotions.
You may grasp these concepts intellectually, and think that this concept is just common sense. The problem is that knowledge and wisdom (which is obtained from continuous practice) are two different things. You may do something totally healthy for yourself, and then say, “okay, I just did a healthy activity, and yet I still don’t feel any better!” The goal in this lesson, is in practicing a process, not in seeking a quick fix. In other words, the idea behind “just doing” right now, is to practice achieving increasing opportunities of breaking from some old destructive patterns, and instead establishing new patterns of actions, while working on a path leading that leads us closer to the things that really matter.
Giving in to a depressive state of mind, usually doesn’t lead to bringing yourself closer to those things in life that matter. So even if you do an action that is healthy, and then don’t immediately feel better, you are still a step ahead of the inaction of just staying put and falling for an old pattern. Hopefully, this all makes sense? Your mind, while in a state of negative darkness, wants to say to you, “See, you (insert healthy thing – i.e. ‘exercised’) and you still don’t feel any better – I told you there was no point in doing that!”
It is important to consider the possibility that when you don’t want to do something healthy or productive for your well-being, that it could be your mind tricking you, by telling you – that you are not “up to it”, when you are really physically able to do whatever it is, but you are under the influence of an emotional state of depression.
Use cautious scrutiny here, as obviously the suggestion to do something healthy, despite your mind telling you not to, is not meant as an absolute directive. The suggestion is for times when you can catch your mind tricking you, as opposed to “just doing” when there is a physical reason not to. For example, the suggestion to “just do” is not applicable if a person is having acute chest pain, in which case, he or she decides to “just do” exercise and then goes walking around the block (when instead he or she should seek immediate emergency medical help!)
It is very easy to misinterpret the lessons of this blog post. Even if everything presented on this blog post is perfectly clear, it may help to sum up some of the concepts presented. The following is a summary of some key points from this blog post and from the website:
You are not your thoughts – they are often just opinions of your mind! You are not your feelings, as these are influenced emotional states.
You are not other people’s opinion of you! Others thoughts are their opinions. Opinions of others may need less of your attention if these opinions are not coming from people are close to you. Keep in mind, that even with people that are close to you, it is easy to misconstrue what they think of you, when you are in a negative emotional state.
Sometimes it helps to treat your mind as if it was a separate entity from you, one that sometimes is a factual reporter, and other times your mind may report information that isn’t helpful at achieving the goal of getting you closer to the kind of life that is personally meaningful (suggestion: if your mind has convinced you that “no one or nothing matters” – then strategize to find someone or something that will matter).
Most importantly, you are okay! You are human. You have, and will continue, to make mistakes!
Instead of listening to your mind’s opinion on who you are, or absorbing other people’s negativity,
just be kind to yourself and while you are at it, be kind to others (even if you feel kind of grumpy)!
Show yourself who you can be!