If you got past the title I’m sure you’re thinking I’m crazy. You may even be asking yourself, “How could there be a bigger challenge than being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness?” I didn’t say a bigger challenge; I said your next challenge. I can assure you there will always be a next challenge, so you better start preparing for it now!
Life is full of challenges. It’s these challenges that get us to grow in ways we could previously never have imagined. Yes, the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness may be your largest challenge so think about the lessons you’ve taken away thus far. How have your learned to cope with your diagnosis? How have you become a better advocate for yourself? How have your clarified your positions and priorities in your life?
The questions I just posed are crucial because the way you answered them will be the roadmap for all future challenges. One of the things I’ve learned from my twenty plus years of working with individuals and families facing a health challenge is that life lessons are generalizable. We don’t learn a lesson and then can only apply it to a health crisis. The lessons learned from facing your health challenge are the catalysts for coping and thriving through any challenge.
This isn’t about finding out how life can be ideal; but how life can be fulfilling. It’s about taking each challenge and taking the lessons you’ve learned to branch out and explore more of your own emotional and spiritual worlds. It’s about deepening your relationship with yourself. Once you take on that challenge those lessons will be applied to your relationships with others. For example, when you learn to treat yourself with loving kindness and compassion; you’ll be more likely to treat others with loving kindness and compassion.
We don’t live in isolation, that’s why our life lessons can be transferred to other arenas of our lives. Know that your diagnosis isn’t your last challenge. Know that you have resources yet untapped waiting to aid you in your health and healing. Know that each challenge gives you clues to increasing your quality of life and making your mark on the world.