HEALTHY LIVING WITH CHRONIC DISEASE AND PAIN
THE FUNDAMENTALS: PART 3
Every Effort Counts
One of my favorite inspirational writers is Caroline Myss. She is someone who helps me to elevate my thinking about challenges and chronic pain and inspires me with her fearlessness and gumption. When she talks about health and illness, she isn’t afraid to bring up sensitive subjects. One thing she has said that really hit home for me was: “ If our approach to healing worked, more people would be healed. Healing is the experience of transforming a whole relationship to life.”
We have all been taught that healing is a rational exercise. You feel ill, you go see a doctor, he or she examines you, does some tests, and comes up with a plan, usually involving medication. You follow your doctors orders and you return to your life. This is a wonderful fantasy that we’ve created over the past few centuries, but that is all it is, a fantasy.
The reality is that true healing requires change. We are all continuously cycling towards illness or health. The body we have today is the result of how we’ve lived in the past, or as Caroline says, “Our biography becomes our biology.” This isn’t a game of blame the patient, which is extremely harmful and cruel. Instead it is tough love.
My own story makes it hard to place blame, as I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at age two. My biography was pretty limited at that time so saying that my raging disease was the result of bad habits or negative emotions is laughable. However, I do have to be honest with myself and take accountability for what has happened since then. I acknowledge I’ve placed myself in situations that were not conducive to my health. Relationships that I’ve entered, jobs that I’ve taken, and stress that I’ve felt have all influenced my health in a negative way.
Understanding that if I want to be healthy I have to dissolve the habits, thoughts, and actions that undermine my health and build new ones, has changed my life. I can’t say that my disease has disappeared. It hasn’t. BUT I do know that every effort counts.
As Caroline says:
“It goes without saying that not every healing crisis will have a ‘fairy-tale ending,’ but every effort you make, regardless of how insignificant it may seem to you, will always bring you closer to a state of spiritual and physical health.”
Healing, especially in the context of chronic disease and pain, is never easy, or rational. Instead it is a work in progress that requires effort. The willingness to try new things, the curiosity to always be asking questions, and the strength to never give up.