“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Positive thinkers are definitely at an advantage compared to negative thinkers. Relationships, our jobs and health are a part of our every day life and we can sense how our thoughts, whether they’re positive or negative, have an effect on everything we do.
It can be really hard to be positive when you’re sick and wake up every day not feeling like you used to, but there is always something good in every day. I’m forced to deal with uncertainty, a lack of control, and the reality that what I have is forever. So I am not necessarily surprised when when someone can’t be positive 100% of the time while dealing with chronic illness. Then I remember that life is uncertain in general, whether you’re sick or not.
Sometimes I feel this pressure to be positive when people say things like “Everything happens for a reason,” or “I am sure that you will be stronger from this.” When the loved ones of people suffering with illness make space for negative emotions, hopeful feelings and better coping often follow. It’s unrealistic to be positive all of the time. Sometimes I am super up beat and try to push everything aside, but that is just me being in denial of my illness.
I think the best way to cope and remain positive with a chronic illness is by focusing on the things that you can control. Diet, exercise, your career, etc. If you dwell on the past or what could happen in the future you are only making matters worse.
We need friends and family that are ok with listening to both positive and negative feelings that we have, not one or the other.
Why hide how you truly feel to please others? I think that’s unfair to your own self.
Here’s a few things that I do if I am feeling negative:
- Remind yourself that better moments are coming. I used to get down on myself and think that the way I felt physically and mentally was forever. Although the illness portion is forever, the way I feel physically isn’t. I have good and bad days. I know that I have to get through it. I held onto the little hope that I had that things would get better. They had to. If I can just get through current feelings and symptoms, better days were coming.
- Remind yourself that the situation could be worse. I absolutely hate when people say this to me because it makes me feel like what I am going through isn’t a huge deal, because it is. If you have ever been around me when I flare up you know that it is a huge deal. But, its true. It could be worse. There are people suffering with the same illness that I have in other countries that don’t have the care that I have. For that, I am thankful. I see people who are more sick than I am pursuing their dream career no matter how long it takes them. I am so grateful for the treatments that are available to me.
- Find a hobby. I used to enjoy working out, playing sports, doing physical things. Although that stuff is still possible for me to do, it’s not anywhere near how it used to be. Along with those things I loved to draw and paint. I decided to take those things up again and spending my down time doing that as opposed to doing nothing. I think it’s so important to find something that makes you happy.
- Reach out to those who understand your situation completely. I am so very thankful to have my family and handful of friends who are there for me no matter what. They can’t relate though, and that can be difficult. I have made so many friends through support groups online and in person. I think these are the people that keep me going if I am being quite honest. They just get you and there’s no better feeling.
Living with chronic illness is not easy by any means, but coming to terms that having a more positive outlook and finding things that make you happy can make all of the difference and make your situation seem a little better than it really is.