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

Sometimes We Need A Swift Kick In the Pants

I remember when I was in graduate school I had a very wise professor for family therapy.  He had been a therapist for a long time and predominantly worked with difficult families.  He always told us, “When you’re dealing with a client that is pushing back hard…pat them on the back before you kick them in the pants.”

I’m out of school over 20 years and that sticks in my brain, why?  Because it works!  I can’t tell you how many times in my career I have been able to work with clients, staff at nonprofits, or corporations by giving them “a pat on the back, before I kick them in the pants”.  It’s a kinder and gentler approach to life.

Well, I got my kick in the pants last week, an until now no one really knows about this moment.  I’ve been working on my dissertation, but having a difficult time getting motivated over the past few weeks.  Last summer I was asked to be a part of a study by one of my fellow students who is doing her dissertation on students doing their dissertation.

Everyone in my life has been so supportive, but not challenging me to push forward, but then I got the email.  The email was from my friend who lovingly was sharing her dissertation in which I’m included.  FINISHED!!!!!!!  Now I’m thrilled, elated, happy, and yes a bit jealous, but that was my kick in the pants to throw coal in the engine, get it revved and finish my work.

Since your diagnosis with a chronic or other life-altering illness, what have people been coddling you about, and what do you need a kick in the pants to get you to do?  For instance, many Type 2 diabetics can eliminate the need for medication if they truly lose weight and exercise.  What exercise, sleep habits, or spiritual practices will give you that edge toward getting better or getting well?

This shouldn’t be about shaming you into something, but reinforcing the desire for health that lies within.  It shouldn’t be about jealousy if you can have what someone else has  (in my case my degree).  It means I have to shift my priorities, make time to do the work, make myself more accountable to my dissertation advisor, and probably get more rest.

This isn’t a challenge.  This is the encouragement and support you need to take a step back and re-evaluate where you on your journey to health.  You’re the navigator and this is the time to plot your course for health and healing.


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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