Tonight, my friend and I were discussing accounting strategies, and I was trying very hard to understand a specific way she processed something. I had to play “21 questions” to finally understand.
I could not see things from her perspective. It sounded like, to me, she did a lot of extra work, but she was certain her way was easier and maybe even quicker. We had the same end results but, we didn’t see the process the same. The differences in our lives created our unique perspectives. Obviously, no one has been through exactly everything you have been through; maybe similar, but not the same.
The questions I asked my friend led me to a mutual understanding eventually, but it was difficult. At first, I had a blank picture in my head of what she was talking about, but with each answered question I was provided a puzzle piece. Slowly, the picture emerged, and I began seeing through her eyes — her perspective.
The problem is that we always listen to respond and do not listen to understand. I wanted to hurry up and tell my friend my process, but when I started trying to see things her way and ask more questions to clarify, it became easier. James 1:19 offers some valuable insight and wisdom to help us:
How often do we find ourselves quick to listen and slow to speak? I know that’s not my first thought. I want to explain my point of view immediately. But when I listen with curiosity, the questions come easy, and the picture in my head quickly starts lining up with the picture in their head. Once I understand their perspective only then can I give them the information they are missing to see things from my perspective. This works both ways.
We must first try to understand others so that we can help add our puzzle pieces to their thoughts. If someone doesn’t see things the way you do, they may need more information that only you can give them from your life experiences.
Why is this important to people with chronic illnesses and chronic pain?
It creates empathy. Right now, the chronic pain community needs a tremendous amount of compassion because we now have our own epidemic along with the opioid addiction epidemic- an epidemic of untreated painful conditions that could lead to suicides because the pain is unbearable without proper medications. That’s why I am always saying, share your stories! No one can understand if we don’t get our voices out there. Write emails to your elected officials, track what different government agencies are making decisions on and make your opinion known. The U.S. Pain Foundation has an advocacy page that is a great place to start learning how to get your voice heard.
I love this quote that has been attributed to Roy T. Bennett: “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”
Begin by trying to understand others, then ask yourself, “How would I feel?” If every person did that, imagine what it could do to the world we live in!
Something I did not think about when I began this blog is how sending my words out in the universe will affect those around me and even people I do not know. I mean, I was hopeful, but I am amazed by the responses from all over the world that I have received. There is a healthy side of being vulnerable and telling your story: other people see they are not alone. It has been worth being out of my comfort zone. I thank you for this opportunity to get to know you.
Everyone deals with stress differently. I like to write out my feelings so someone might be a witness to my life and help me find the right perspective. While others choose silence, I find that impossible, but I will honor their choice.
Helping other people makes you feel connected, and you may find something about your situation to help you feel grateful.
I have had some beautiful people share their very personal journeys with their chronic illnesses. Yes, it takes time to write out your feelings, but the payback is tremendous. You help another person by showing them your struggles and your triumphs. As you write, you might begin to see a different picture of yourself: a fighter and a survivor!
If you haven’t shared your journey, please email me on the contact page. I do not publish any information you send unless granted permission to do so.
Don’t look up to the top of your mountain and say you cannot make it.
Look up and around, and you will see others on similar journeys. It is hard to do alone; sometimes, it is impossible, so it is a must to reach out to those around you and find out ways you can help and how they can help you.
Your offer could be as simple as offering a listening ear. Most people just want to be heard and believed.
You might find your struggle to the top of your daily mountain just might become a little lighter with a few burdens lifted from kindness endorphins and a little friendship sharing the yoke.
It can be an exhausting routine to go through every day until I hit my “sweet spot” which is usually around 1 pm until 4:30 pm. The rest of the time I am distracted with brain fog and pain. But I have to keep doing this to survive just like you.
Everyone has their particular mountain to climb in this life. Most are not a fun waterslide that’s worth the climb. I want people to see the odds we rise above every day with our chronic illnesses and show the unbelievers just how strong we can be. That’s why I encourage everyone to share their stories.
And I want people that are struggling to remember to look up and around so they can recognize that each mountain they are scaling has other climbers all around them. Each with varying degrees of knowledge. Through our chronic pain networking, we can find some vital information along the way and change our perception and quality of life.
I didn’t start this blog for a business or fame. I just wanted to be real about chronic illnesses, and bring awareness to chronic pain and how I live and survive them and maybe I can help one person improve their quality of life.
Try spending one day this week by being encouraging to everyone that your path takes you to.
The month of February is all things pink and lovely, isn’t it? Either you love all the valentine day hoopla, or you don’t.
I think it is all a bit negative. All the buzz leaves us to believe we must be partnered with another person for our life to mean something.
If you are not married or if you haven’t found “the one,” you might focus on the fact that you are single at this time of year.
I know I felt that way when February rolled around, and I was a single person. I especially became down when I was a single mom of three small boys, and the pink banners, cards, and candies began popping up in the stores in January. I thought no one would ever want me because I had apparently failed the first time. Valentine’s Day was a reminder of my failures with a one-two punch; I was single, and I had failed the first time. My perception of myself was low at that time, and it wasn’t healthy to feel that way about myself. I’ve changed some of those thoughts, but I find it is a daily struggle fighting off the negative feelings.
What can we do to change this negative perception that we have in our head about ourselves?
Let’s start by learning to love yourself. Make this time about taking care of you. This means spending the amount of time you need to recharge your batteries, instead of running them all way down until you fall over entirely. If you take time for yourself, you have more to offer other people.
SOME WAYS TO LOVE YOURSELF:
1. Stop the inner critic from speaking in your ear. This one is a big one and hard to do because you cannot get away from your inner voice. You have to retrain that voice. There are many ways to do that, and here are just a few:
Develop an awareness of your thoughts. You can’t change what you don’t notice yourself doing so start being mindful of what your inner critic is saying to you. Most of the time, it is entirely out of proportion so challenge the thought if it is negative.
Stop beating yourself up.When you make a mistake, admit it and move on. Worrying about it will never change it. This has helped me tremendously. I know that my intentions are good but sometimes, the things we say or the things we do, go wrong. Talk to people and explain, apologize, or do whatever you need to do to move on. Then, move on.
Treat yourself with compassion.With our chronic illnesses, we need to be very diligent about our health. I believe that it is essential to have a caring and an empathetic view of ourselves. This includes forgiving yourself and your body.
2. Learn to say “no.” Another way to show yourself some love is to learn to tell other people no. Have you ever been asked to do something and inside you are screaming no, but your lips have the nerve to say the word, yes?! I have trouble with this one also, but I have been doing better. I never want people to think I am lazy so I always feel judged by the “lazy” compass if I say no when I am in pain.
Conflict causes pain, especially, in couples. Here’s the link to an interesting pain study from Rush University, Chicago, about how conflict and criticism from your spouse could be leading to increased pain. I will be doing more posts about cortisol in the future because I believe it has a significant impact on chronic pain.
Learning to say no without guilt is hard. It is something that I am learning to do. If you find yourself angry when you are doing something for someone else, and you are not doing it in love, you have probably guilted yourself into doing it. That’s people pleasing. Know your limits and speak honestly. We do better physically when we are tactfully honest.
The other side is if you tell the other person no, and they try to manipulate you with guilt, then you need to look at that relationship and determine how it is helping you or if that connection is hurting you more during your chronic pain journey.
3. Surround yourself with lots of positive people. If you feel alone, even if you are with people, and struggle to face the day, then you have some work to do. YOU need to seek out and find encouraging people to be in your everyday life.
You know that laughter is good medicine so use it every day. I know you have valid issues that might hold you back from leaving your house. There are so many groups online where you can find encouragement. The beauty of it is that you can do it from your bed if you are disabled. I have met some beautiful people from doing this blog and chronic pain advocacy. I have had courageous people send me their chronic pain journeys, and I am finding real hope in their words.
Another benefit of surrounding yourself with people is that you can learn new coping techniques from others. Nobody has perfect days every day. That’s why we lean on others and learn from them. You can help others when you share your story by being the inspiration someone else might need.
4. Spend time resting with Jesus.You are not alone in this world. God wants a relationship with us. It’s what He created us for. In this verse, Jesus understands how tired you are, and He invites us “to get some rest” in Mark 6:31. I encourage spending time reading and meditating on God’s word and praying to recharge your batteries.
31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat,(A) he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Sometimes, we all need reminders about the importance of self-care and February is a great month to examine your relationship with yourself.
The Mighty is doing a self-love campaign during February to help you. Here’s the link to the campaign and the article explaining The Mighty’s challenge. Download and print the self-love planner here. Download and print the self-love cheat sheet here. These freebies will guide you in the beginning. The key to lasting change is repetition.
I hope taking these baby steps this February will lead you down the path of self-acceptance and self-love the rest of the year.
If there is any way I can help with encouragement or information about resources, please comment below or go here.
And, as for my current upcoming Valentine’s Day, I will be spending it with my hubby going out to one of our favorite restaurants on the weekend to celebrate. I did eventually find my prince that would stick with me through thick and thin.
Begin loving yourself, and you will attract the right people in your life. Self-love sets the stage for every relationship you have with others; whether it is a platonic or a romantic relationship.When you respect and love yourself, other people notice and know that you expect nothing less from them.