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

Are We Stuck in Our Ways?

Yesterday I flew from Colorado to California to conduct some interviews for school.  The only difference is that instead of flying into San Francisco, I flew into Oakland.  You would think that wouldn’t make much of a difference, except it was different from my usual and I made silly decisions based on that “usual”.

I was driving in the car from the airport when I realized I was driving in the wrong direction.  If I continued in the direction I was going, I’d probably drive about 15 miles more than necessary and to top it all off, I’d be sitting in traffic too.  It took me a second to realize that the most prudent action was to turn around and go the other way, but why had I been so resistant?

We all like to do things a certain way.  Our lives are based on patterns whether you recognize them or not and when we don’t follow those patterns we feel a bit off.  So you can imagine what happens following the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness, all the patterns change.

How we did things changes for many of us because our routines change, our bodies sometimes change, and our emotional and spiritual lives often change.  When we try to apply our “usual” life patterns to our “new normal” we get confused, frustrated and resentful.

You would think that developing new patterns would be a no-brainer, but it’s complicated.  When develop these new patterns it means we’re making adjustments to our lives we never thought we’d have to make, leaving us a bit lost at times.  It requires us to be open to possibility because we may have a learning curve about how we’re going to live our lives from this day forward.

Our routines change, and as you read from my driving experience above, we rely on routines.  They provide comfort and allow us to live life on autopilot.   We have to create new routines and that means we have to be conscious (at least for a time).

We know this shift in our routines is possible because science has shown us it’s true.  When individuals suffer a stroke, it’s not unusual for the brain to create new neural pathways to restore functions.  If the brain can do it, don’t you think you can do it?

Where are you stuck?  What do you keep doing over and over that creates angst in your life?  Recognize it and make the shift, you’ll feel better!


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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