A diagnosis of chronic disease is a game changer. Gone are the days where you can feel carefree in your body. True relaxation may be a thing of the past if pain is now your constant companion. Your time is no longer your own, as you now have a part-time job involving taking care of your disease and all that this entails. Physical perfection is no longer obtainable. Your career path will be disrupted. Is the ability to be your best self wiped out too?
I am here to say NO. Absolutely not. In fact chronic disease may just be an invitation to become your best self, because here is the secret:
Challenge is a catalyst for growth and understanding. It helps you to focus on what is truly important, makes you truly strong, changes your priorities, and helps compassion to grow.
The challenge of chronic disease may just be one of the best teachers in the school of life. One of the lessons that it teaches you is how to be your best self.
Here are five things I’ve learned from my chronic disease and chronic pain about becoming my best self:
1. Be your own best friend
In order to be your best self you have learn to be your own best friend. This is especially true with a body that is ill. Remember that now, more than ever, it is important to believe in yourself and your ability to heal.
Even when you live in a body with disease, you are still healing every day; your body is still a miracle. This is what you need to keep in the forefront of your thoughts, just as your best friend would.
2. Focus on moving towards what you love, not against what you hate.
This is hard when you live with chronic disease. Your pain and disability is always talking to you; railing against it is the natural thing to do. But it is imperative to keep joy in your life, in any way that you can. Follow a passion, even if there is no goal or end point you are moving into. The passion is the point. You will be pleasantly surprised to see how your life changes.
3. Be Resilient
Resilience is a natural state for all of us and easy to find. Just look out your front door- it is all around. It is only when you become attached to how things “should” be, when you internalize the expectations that society places on all of us, or when you are judgmental about yourself and others, that your resilience suffers. The only constant on life is change; learn to bend and you won’t break.
4. Change your belief systems
What we believe is a matter of habit, most of it the result of our environment, not of thoughtful investigation. In order to be your best self it is important that you examine your beliefs, and question whether they truly fit with who you are. The key here is SELF, you aren’t trying to be the best republican, or worker, or student, you are trying to be the best YOU. Only you know what us true for you. Keep focusing on your truth, live it, and believe what aligns with it. I have lived over forty years in serious pain; I never believed the people who told me what my limits were, only my body could do that. And my body and I have done quite well for ourselves.
5. Grow compassion
Compassion for oneself is the greatest healer of all. It is the mark of true kindness, and beauty. Your best self will always show up when you are coming from a place of compassion.
Let chronic disease be your catalyst and become your best self!