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

Making Decisions

Why is it that some people are seen as being good decision makers?  What qualities do they possess that earns them this title?  Can anyone be a good decision maker?  Would it benefit you following your diagnosis to become a good decision maker?

We could spend hours, days, months, probably even years discussing the biology of decision-making.  Leave it to say that a lot of it is done in the prefrontal cortex.  The thing that Jonah Lehrer points out in his book How We Decide ,  is that it’s the information in the brain cells coupled with our emotions.  Seems like a fairly straight forward explanation, the trouble is what happens when you’re overwrought with emotion or are too cut off from your emotions?

This is where achieving a level of balance is important in making decisions.  When you’ve had enough life experience you may hear yourself saying that you know intuitively what decision to make.  That’s probably true in most life decision-making moments because you’ve had plenty of practice and practice leads us to learning all the moves.  Our capacity for learning is important in decision-making. 

The problem arises following a diagnosis of a chronic or life-altering illness because it’s entirely new to our experience.  Most people don’t have a data bank of information to rely on regarding the decisions made regarding their previous diagnosis.  That means one thing, a steep learning curve and mistakes.

One way to gain the information you need without having to have lived the experience is to hear the stories of others.  Support groups and autobiographies written by famous people who have overcome adversity, particularly as it applies to health and healing is a huge wealth of information.  If you are willing to put in the time and the patience to absorb all the information, you’re decision-making skills will be greatly enhanced.

You have a great opportunity to become a better decision maker following your diagnosis.  Learn how to incorporate all the tools to increase your energy and to make your journey to wellness an easier process.

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

Internal Tug-O-War

The poem by Robert Frost speaks about “The Road Not Taken”.  The poem starts, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both…”  It’s common to feel that way in your life, two roads before you and you can only choose one.  How do you know which one will be in your best interest or is the correct on that leads to health and healing?

Last night I was at a lecture and woman speaking is a Shaman.  She apprenticed for over 7 years with a Shaman and she delivered a very powerful message.  She shared that in this world we have one of two choices to make about lives; you can either choose to be a victim or a creator.  I heard her words and I felt as if I had one of those lightbulb moments.

This world is full of those choosing victimhood.  As a psychotherapist it was a common issue for clients, but if you watch the news, read the paper, or venture out in public it shows up in everywhere.  There are certainly life circumstances that will direct you in one direction or another, but isn’t the eventual goal for everyone to become a creator?

As an artist it’s not uncommon for me, every few years, to lay out my work in chronological order to see its progression.  It’s an easy process because the art is something tangible and can be displayed.  How can we do that with our lives?

I took a workshop with Angeles Arrien, author of The Nine Muses.  We were discussing creativity and one of the exercises was to do an autobiography of our creative lives by decade.  Most of us had lived past the age of 30 so we actually had a few decades to explore.  Couldn’t you use this method for any and all areas of your life?  What would you like to see the progression of in your life?  Think about a quality, characteristic, or action you take and see how it has transformed over time.

This is a great practice for those who are facing a health challenge because you can see the personal transformation that often takes place after receiving a diagnosis.  It wasn’t the chosen road, but the detour so how have your ideals, ideas, beliefs and values changed over time.  This is part of the healing process; it’s part of your healing journey!