When diagnosed with a chronic disease your life isn't like that of the healthy people in your life.
Your body doesn't always cooperate -- no matter how much healthy food, loving intentions and self-care you give it. Life seems to pass you by as your body requires you to sit on the sidelines of life.
The reality is, there are many times that you have to turn down late nights with friends, pass on potential career opportunities, postpone your dream vacation, or wait to start a family.
It feels like life has dealt you a crappy hand of cards -- one that you didn't deserve.
You have two choices: fight it or surrender to it.
Surrendering doesn't mean you put on the rose-colored glasses and pretend your life is full of sunshine, glitter and butterflies. It's accepting your current situation and acknowledging the potential benefits and opportunities your chronic health struggles are bringing into your life.
As you work to heal your physical body, it's important to be intentional about healing your emotional and spiritual selves as well.
Here are a few ways that your chronic disease can benefit and guide you in that process.
- It's here to teach you.
Everything you're given in life is meant to teach you -- and it's usually the difficult times that teach you the most. You learn how brave you can be, how resilient you can be, what's important in life, and what you're really made of.
- It's inviting you to slow down.
Whether you like it or not, chronic illness forces you to slow down. Usually your body can't keep up at the pace you were at before. Unrelenting symptoms -- like fatigue or pain -- require you to rest, prioritize and make room for more self-care.
- It's encouraging you to focus on yourself.
Chronic illness is a not-so-subtle way your body is screaming for attention. Putting yourself and your needs last no longer can work for you. It's necessary to learn about your body, your illness and to find people in your life that support you.
- It's begging you to love yourself more.
Unfortunately, most women lack sufficient quantities of self-love, self-compassion and self-care. If you're like most, you were taught to believe that loving yourself was selfish, narcissistic or egocentric. Loving yourself is often the most overlooked -- and yet most vital -- part of healing with chronic illness.
- It's hoping you'll heal from your past.
As holistic beings, our physical health is intimately connected with our spiritual and emotional health. Holding on to past, unresolved emotional pain causes chronic stress on your body which directly influences how well your body can heal and thrive. Do whatever it takes to let go, forgive and heal the brokenness within your spirit.
- It's inviting you to feel your feelings.
Intense feelings of anger, frustration, overwhelm, fear and even self-pity can surface frequently. These are normal and can be healthy feelings (but ones most women would rather ignore or suppress). It's important to acknowledge, feel, express and process your emotions.
- It's opening your eyes to the many blessings in your life.
Although it's not always easy to acknowledge or appreciate the beauty within the challenges, you're are radically blessed -- in every moment of your life. One of the most transformative lifestyle changes is to start a gratitude practice. Focus on all the ways your life (and your health) is a blessing to you. Do it daily.
What's Your Take?
When your daily life is consumed with unrelenting chronic health issues, it's understandable that life can feel heavy at times.
But life is exactly how it's supposed to be for you. You've been handed the exact cards you need in your life to learn, grow and heal. It's not to say those crappy cards don't straight-up stink. Often times they do. You can't always change the cards you were dealt but you can change the way you play the game.
Use your chronic disease as a tool for personal growth and spiritual enhancement. Look for the blessings and benefits.
And when you struggle, seek out healthcare practitioners who can support, encourage, and walk with you on your healing journey -- ones that acknowledge the importance of healing your spirit as well as your body.
What other lessons has your chronic disease taught you? I'd love if you'd share your experiences in the comments below.