Beyond medical research, I spend a lot of time reading personal stories of people who have fibromyalgia. After all, I have the illness, and it feels good to have a sense of belonging. However, there is a problem.
What I’ve noticed is that many of these stories, including some of my own, focus on the (for lack of a better word) negative aspects of the illness. There is nothing wrong with that. Of course, we all need a place to share our grievances, our challenges, and our pain. This can help those without fibromyalgia understand a bit more about our experiences with the illness. Sharing, however, the negative of our illness is not always helpful…to us.
What I mean is: isn’t it about time that we share the positive? Share our successes? If nothing else, in both my personal and professional lives, I learned that focusing on what works helps us to feel better about ourselves and our circumstances. (Also, reading about the success of others in overcoming their challenges is helpful to those who are struggling.)
For example, let’s say you’ve been waking up every morning (if you even slept) and have felt so tired that the idea of getting up is too much. Okay, that’s fine. Now, instead of focusing on feeling so tired, how about focusing on the simple pleasure of I woke up today. Perhaps that may seem a bit morbid.
The reality is, however, that if we can take a moment to focus on what is good/positive/working, then what is bad/negative/broken begins to matter less.
So, to give you a boost, I thought I would share with you my 5 steps to feeling motivated for each fibromyalgia day:
- Appreciate. Every morning and for the rest of my day, I take moments to simply express gratitude for the simple things in life, whether internally or externally or both. The sun is shining. I am breathing. The birds are singing, etc.
- Celebrate. Even if I am stuck in bed all day long, I celebrate myself and my achievements for the day. Perhaps the only achievement I can point to is my self-care, i.e. not pushing myself beyond my limit and not beating myself up because I can’t do what others can.
- Life-dream. Okay, so it’s a rough day today, but guess what? Tomorrow might just be better, and what do you want to do? I take time to make small and big plans for my future. I keep in mind something that YouTuber CharlyCheer expressed in one of her videos: if you can spend 10 minutes today working on a goal, then you are that much closer to achieving it. So, dream and dream BIG.
- One-step. I take the foot-in-the-door | door-in-the-face compliance strategies. What does that mean? I negotiate with myself. I ask myself to do something either so small (foot in the door) that I know I can do it, or I ask myself for something so grand that I know I will reject in favour of something smaller. In essence, I force myself into complying with taking a positive action. What the video below.
- Laugh. I spend a great deal of time laughing. Sometimes it is because of something I make myself watch (cartoons, comedies, etc.), sometimes it’s a memory of something I did (I can be very clumsy), or sometimes it’s listening to or reading something funny (whimsical music, comic strips, joke books, etc.). The point is, I force myself to experience a positive emotion. Check out DBT technique Opposite to Emotion Action.
You know, having fibromyalgia does not have to suck. It’s true sometimes it does, and when it does…man, well…you get the idea. Fibromyalgia is just an illness. It’s not the bogeyman, nor the devil or some demon meant to torment you. It’s nothing to really be sad about, in my opinion.
Yes, your life has changed. However, focus on how you can compensate for those changes/challenges. Make having fibromyalgia a positive for you. When people say, “I’m so sorry you have fibromyalgia” (I hear this a lot), respond with “I’m not! It’s one of the best things that has happened to me and has helped me change my perspectives on life!”
And that’s the truth. Fibromyalgia does teach you many wonderful things about life, especially because it forces you to slow down, to pay attention, and to take care.