In another article I wrote for Patient Worthy, I talked about the emotional pain of “victim mentality” when faced with a health or other life challenge. In this article, I will share some ideas for getting out of that mindset based on my own experiences as a dystonia patient. Mindset is a muscle, so it is important that we exercise it properly.
A big reason for emotional pain is being stuck in the past or past trauma. We need to find a way to release the past. It is not who we are anymore, no matter how hard we try. We can be whomever we want right now. We may not be the same person as before, and we have to learn to be okay with that IF we want to be happy. We also need to be open to the possibility that we can be even better than before. I know how crazy this may sound to some, but Post Traumatic Growth is a very real and powerful thing.
By no means is ‘letting go’ as easy as I am making it sound. I completely understand that it is a process that unfolds at our own pace. It is something I have to work on every day. The more I work on it, the better I am able to release the past, embrace who I am right now, and keep growing from there. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating it is and how much better it makes me feel when I am able to do it.
I would like to say that I freely do whatever I want whenever I want, but that is not always the case. There are days when things are too uncomfortable because of the pain and other symptoms of dystonia. Therefore, I do my best to live my life within the boundaries of my abilities and work hard to accept that I can’t always do everything I want or some of the things I used to. If I don’t allow myself to accept the reality that life is different now, I will mentally torture myself and become a victim of circumstance.
I did this for far too long and it resulted in so much emotional pain on top of the physical pain that it was almost too much to bear already. I had to learn to let it go, and as I mentioned, I still have to work at it every day. Finding joy and passion in whatever I do is where I put my focus, so I don’t let the past determine my present or future happiness. I feel I have better accepted the challenges I live with and learned to ride the fluctuating waves that each day brings, but I am still a work in progress like anyone else. I focus as much attention as possible on the things I can do and celebrate them, and not on the things that I can’t do or find difficult.
Every night I go to bed praying I will wake up with fewer symptoms than I had the previous day. If this does not happen, I am better at not fighting what I can’t change physically about myself in the moment, but it comes with practice and I still falter. What I have learned is that faltering is human and not to be judged by me or anyone else, so I refuse to be shamed. I understand that I can only change how I respond to how I feel and do my best to be grateful for whatever I am able to do on that given day.
When we focus on the abilities we have now, acceptance follows, giving us greater peace of mind. By holding onto what once was, we trap ourselves in a vicious cycle of emotional pain and remorse, and life is simply too short to choose this path.
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, and health blogger. He volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader and WEGO Health as a patient expert panelist, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his book, subscribe to his free health newsletter, and take advantage of other resources, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.