Human beings are wired to run away from things that are painful and difficult. I sure as heck did the first 5 years of my dystonia diagnosis. It often seems that it is only when things are an emergency that we address them at that moment. Like cancer or a heart attack, for example. The minute we find out that we have cancer, the prognosis and treatment are dealt with in a very expeditious manner. And of course when a heart attack occurs, we must take immediate action or death might be eminent. But we don’t live most of our lives this way regarding our lifestyle and self-care. We rarely pay close attention to or do much about little aches and pains, stomach discomfort, stress and anxiety, toxic relationships, etc. If we did, we might be kinder to ourselves and live happier, healthier lives in the moment and perhaps give ourselves a better chance, through a healthier lifestyle, to avoid situations that require emergency action.
A while ago I wrote an article called, Embrace the Suck of Life. I also wrote a section in the Adapting to Adversity chapter of my new book where I expand on this topic. If you would like to read the article, please click here. What this phrase means is that tough times are not to be ignored, denied, covered up, or masked with drugs, alcohol, food, poor relationships, and behavior where we deal with the suck of life in an emotionally reactive fashion. It means acknowledging that life is hard and filled with pitfalls, and not resisting the bad things that happen to us because that will always increase our suffering.
For those who do not have a persistent/chronic health condition like I do (dystonia and chronic pain) and probably many of you reading this, they have their own “suck of life” issues, so no one has it better or worse. We just have different stuff to deal with, so “embracing the suck of life” applies to everyone.
I think every situation, both good and bad, both joyful and sorrowful, provides us with an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, others, and life. It helps put things into perspective. We all learn different things from different situations in our lives. There is no linear path that we all follow. We have to follow the path that we choose and learn to be more flexible with the unpredictability of that path. This is when we can enter into a healing cycle as illustrated below.
When I developed a severe case of dystonia in 2001, after several years of running from all of the pain and sorrow that it brought (you can read more here and also in my book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey), I had enough and decided to face it and try to turn my life around. I told myself, I do not know why this happened or why I am going through this, but I refuse to go through this for nothing! Since that time, I became certified as a life coach, I have had articles published all over the world about dystonia, pain, obesity, weight loss, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. I also published 2 books, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges. I am also a motivational speaker and active patient advocate. I don’t say this to tout myself. It makes me uncomfortable to do that. I only share this to demonstrate that these things never would have happened if I didn’t face the suck of my life in a proactive fashion.
I recently attended a dystonia symposium and heard many stories from other people living through some very difficult times. I learned something from everyone’s story. The main thing being that no one is immune from the challenges of life. There is great power and comfort knowing that we are not alone on our journey. One of the greatest things we can ever do is to help others, while also asking for help from others, because it’s very hard to get through this merry-go-round we call life alone. When we help others, we increase various chemicals in the brain that make us feel better. When we allow others to help us, we give them that same gift. Reach out and give the gift of your life and your story to others and learn from theirs as well. Everyone has a powerful message to share.
The point of this article is that we can’t run from our tough times. Eventually, in some way, they will always catch up with us. Life is too short to suffer more than we have to. We all must practice learning to live more in the moment, including myself. I am a constant work in progress. That is one reason I write everything I do. It holds me accountable to everything I say.