Here is to being authentic. Actually I take pride in that trait and value it in others as well.
However, when I read this quote I thought about chronic illness and the way at times when I am in just the right frame of mind I can frame my struggle in a positive manner. Then things like ‘overcome’ and ‘endure’ and ‘transform’ and being ‘greater than my suffering’ are all things that can come to mind. Along with perserverance and patience.
Because we have positive coping traits. We can talk about all these characteristics of how we cope with illness that are positive in some way or another. The illness itself is not enjoyable, but we have adapted in certain ways, that are in fact positive. On these days I feel like I have made some sort of progress or achieved some sort of balance. I feel in a good place, despite my pain. I feel like pain is not stealing my life from me. I can look objectively at my life and actually see what I should be grateful for. I can be creatively inspired by the pain itself in fact and have been. And really I feel like my part history with my chronic illness at least has given me experience to cope with my current state of being. That I would never be able to cope with the pain as is without learning as I have in the past to cope as I have. And each of those coping strategies has a lot of value to it.
However, on my bad days, I sure can point out all the negative characteristics of chronic illness and negative coping strategies and all the sucky things that go with this. Some things just are not positive. Hell… ‘endure’ is not positive when taken ‘forever’. Then it just bites the big one. While sometimes I feel that I am greater than my suffering and pretty much take things in stride… other times I am just a big ball of suffering and it can really just get to me. Pain can steal my cool. It can steal my energy. It can steal my sleep. It just takes and takes and I feel like an empty shell walking around wondering what happened to me. Pain generally makes for more bad days than good. It just makes it harder to see the good. Which is why I feel we have to consciously make an effort to raise our moods, because it is just so easy to fall into a negative state of mind or even just a pain hazed one.
I don’t really feel we can make ourselves be happy. Or that thinking warm fuzzy positive thoughts is that beneficial. However I have read enough studies to know with chronic pain and chronic illness maintaining our mood is difficult and worth the effort. Something I constantly struggle with.
There have been a lot of things I have read. Like if you smile, even if you are not in the mood to, your brain still releases happy hormones… so even faking a smile can boost your mood. Which is why I always find having a facade at work where I can smile and joke around lifts my mood a little. Whether it is because I am convincing my own brain I am in a good mood or providing some necessary distance from my own pain, it is something I find necessary. But other things are things like exercise… even taking a short walk. Watching funny videos every day… like funny cat videos and such. Starting a gratitude journal and writing down at least one thing you are grateful for each day. This is because for every negative thought we have it takes at least three positive to replace it, so at least thinking about and writing down one positive thing a day will help boost your mood.
There are actually more things likely than this. Little fuzzy headed today. I work on a lot of cognitive therapy as well. So actively replacing negative thoughts with more rational positive thoughts and thinking about those negative thoughts and why they are not rational thinking. Just to help with my emotional health. There are a lot of things we say to ourselves with chronic pain that get skewed by the pain. I have posted about this before. (Here is an article I wrote about that for reference: Chronic pain and cognitive therapy: taking care of your emotional health)