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

We’ve All Got Habits…Are Yours Good or Bad?

Habits are simple things that we do often, and most times we’re not even conscious that we’ve engaging in our habits.  Some of our habits are taught to us like brushing our teeth, and others we happen upon because they serve some sort of purpose in our lives.  Perhaps you’re an anxious person and you pace the floors, or crack your knuckles.  We’re all aware that smoking is a bad habit, or drinking too much and a whole host of other activities.  Then again there are good habits like eating right, exercising, having a spiritual practice.  Those are actions, but did you know that emotions can be habit-forming?

The one emotion or experience that rises to the surface after being diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness is fear.  Fear can supersede all other thoughts and actions.  It can cloud your vision and make you play the “what if” game way to often.  It can have you future tripping about what might happen to you without provocation.  It sets you in a wasteland of uncertainty.  Ask yourself, “Is being afraid becoming a habit?”

I’m not sure that most of us would know whether this were actually happen, because when your caught up in the fear wave you lose sight and perspective of your current life situation.  It may not be evident in actions, so you may need to take a step back and go inward.  When you take the time to explore your internal life you’ll get a better reading about what’s going on physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Going inward doesn’t mean sitting on a cushion and meditating (although that is one way).  Going inward can be achieved through journaling, dreamwork, creative activity, meeting with a coach, therapist, or spiritual director.

The key is to recognize if in fact fear is becoming a habit and find ways to identify when it’s creeping in to your life and how to avoid the fear trap.  Believe it or not you have an established pattern, a habit, when fear is creeping in to your life.  You can back track those actions so you come to recognize the behavior or thought that sets things in motion.  (If you’re not sure what this might be or look like contact me)   The next step is to come up with strategies to short-circuit the fear so that it doesn’t bloom.  It may be as simple as replacing it with a newly formed habit.

Fear is habit-forming and interferes with your journey to wellness.  It inhibits your body, mind, and spirit from working toward getting better or well.  Don’t get caught in the trap!

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

Everyone Has An Opinion

Ever notice that following your diagnosis everyone you meet has an opinion about your health and your care?  It’s as all these people overnight attended a crash course in the health field and feel compelled, and more interestingly, qualified to give you an opinion about your health.

There is one up side to this and that is, if the person is sharing information gained through an article read, a news cast, or some other credible source then that’s different from offering an opinion.  In those instances the person is expanding your knowledge base while taking an interest in and showing you that they care about you and your health.

It’s important to weed out those conversations that are opinion based and not fact based.  Making decisions about treatment is difficult enough without the fear factor thrown into the mix.  If you’re going to have a consulting circle of friends and family there are a couple of things to consider; what’s their motivation? and what are their qualifications?  Just because someone themselves has had a health challenge doesn’t make them an expert on anything but their own health challenge.

The first step is to set limits with those that are causing you more harm than good.  It’s your prerogative, your right, and your choice to let others know when and how you’d like their input on your health.  It’s your health so drawing a line in the sand saying only pass on credible information is within your rights as it’s your life and your health.  Don’t let others sabotage your health and healing efforts with scare tactics or what if situations.  If you have any concerns please consult your medical team as they are prepared to answer your questions.  If you feel you need even more information I suggest you ask your primary care physician/internist for a referral to a specialist.

The difficult part is that those offering opinions overwhelmingly are doing it out of love.  Unfortunately, they are unaware of the impact their sharing is having on you as you make difficult decisions about your care.  Information that provides clarity should always be welcomed or information that allows you to go to your next doctor’s appointment with informed questions is a plus.  Communication that places doubt or fear on your radar screen has to be quarantined and eliminated.

Setting limits is difficult and may be difficult at first.  If you have any questions about how or when to set limits feel free to e-mail me at greg@survivingstrong.com.