Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Emotional Health, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

Ditch Digging is Not Part of Health and Healing

What do you focus on when it comes to your health?  If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness you probably ask, “What else can go wrong?”  We’re in a culture that is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop and believe me if you give it the opportunity it will fall, often and hard.  Every negative thought is the equivalent of picking up the shovel and scooping out a shovel full of dirt.  What happens eventually?  You find yourself at the bottom of a very deep hole.  Is that where you think you’ll find health and healing?

The only ditch digging you should be doing is in the garden.  If you think of planting in the garden the ditch gets prepared to receive the new plants…the new life.  It doesn’t work that way in life.  Most people dig a ditch and then when they’re in too deep they wallow in the reality that they can’t get out.  If you are going to dig the emotional and/or spiritual ditch then I implore you to have an escape route in mind before the shovel touches your soul.  I mean have someone who can offer you a lifeline or an escape ladder from the perils of the ditch. 

Your safeguard may be your physician, a therapist, a coach, a spiritual director or yes even your nursery professional if gardening is your preferred spiritual practice.  It’s imperative that you remain engaged in your life and the people who mean the most to you.  Remember that laughter isn’t just fun but therapeutic.  Norman Cousins watched the Three Stooges and for every 20 minutes of a good belly laugh, he got 2 hours of pain relief.

Leave the ditch digging out in the yard where it belongs.  If you feel the descent beginning have a plan in place to keep your head above ground.  Don’t fall so far down that the possibility of being saved is remote.  Giving yourself the gift of planning will open your heart and your mind to the possibilities that others will deliver to your doorstep.  Listen for how other people have overcome similar challenges, go to a support group, read blogs by people who are in similar circumstances.  You have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to it alone.

How will you keep yourself out of the ditch today?  What do you do to keep your head above ground?  How do you cultivate opportunites and then reap the alternatives provided by others?


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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