by: Nicole Matoushek MPH, PT
Approximately 290 million people in the U.S. are coping with a chronic medical condition that results in impairments, disabilities or alters their way of living. Often, this level of disability is a result of three things; the medical condition itself, the environment or support systems and thirdly, the individual’s focus. Anyone who is coping with a medical condition has an opportunity to improve their level of function and ability. That should be their focus, as this is something they can control. In success of any kind, it is really all about focus. Often times, when an individual is coping with a disabling injury, disease or chronic illness, they are focused on the negative impact, the losses and the new disability or lack of ability to do things that they were once able to do. Anyone learn to focus on their abilities or “difabilities”, as opposed to their disabilities. This change of focus can bring about higher levels of function, advance recovery and provide them with tools to help them achieve things they did not think they could achieve.
Common Negative Thoughts:
One of the most critical steps in recovery of a chronic illness or injury is changing the chronic ways of thought. It is these chronic, negative thoughts that often are what keeps people ill. When one is preoccupied with health, when it is all one talks about and focuses on, it remains. If one explores the most common thoughts and emotions an individual has when coping with a chronic illness, injury or disease, one will see that the majority of these emotions are negative emotions. Negative emotions do not make us feel good. These negative emotions can be detrimental to a patient’s recovery if they remained focused on them. Some of the negative emotions that one can experience when coping with the loss of health or function are described below.
Chronic illnesses and accidentally injuries can often times appear uncontrollable and unpredictable. People may feel as if they have lost control over their bodies and their future. Loss of control feels like powerlessness. When people feel powerlessness, they may also feel hopeless, anger and fear.
However, if one learns how to change the feelings of powerlessness and replace them with positive thoughts, such as passion, optimism, hope and enthusiasm. They can see that they are indeed capable of many wondrous things, and that they have control and power over many aspects of their health and body. You can also take control of your health by improving your finances and finding ways of creating passive income so you have more time and flexibility to heal yourself. I recommend studying the science behind success and work at home network marketing opportunities, www.inspirednhopeful.theSGRprogram.com and www.acquiredhope.com for free resources.
Fear plays a big part in the emotional pain of chronic illness, injury or disease. A person may become afraid of many things, including the progression of a disease, the increasing loss of control or increasing disability, the outcome, the relapses or re-injuries. A person may be afraid of their how family members, friends and co-workers feel about them, now that they have an injury or illness. They may have financial fears, fear of losing the ability to work or not sustaining a current income or position. Finding new ways to generate income or work at home opportunities can allow the individual to have more time to heal and recover and reduce any fear over finances. Free resources are available on www.inspirednhopeful.theSGRprogram.com and www.acquiredhope.com.
Additionally, they may fear not being able to support their loved ones. Fear can sneak up on them and fear can overwhelm them on a continual basis. It is important to learn how to replace feelings of fear with good emotions and to learn to focus on abilities and good health. Fear is said to be the expectation that something bad will happen, learning to replace this emotion with expectations of something great will indeed bring about abundance.
Individuals with a disease or condition may experience anger. There may be anger against their bodies for “failing” them. There may be a sense of betrayal. There may be anger at the meaningless of their disease, injury or condition. Or they may blame themselves or others for their condition and current situation. They may express anger at life, the medicine they take and their side effects, the doctors for not curing them and their friends and family members for not understanding them or responding to them the way they would like at that exact moment. There may be anger when people make allowances for them and then when they do not.
It is important to understand that anger is a very powerful negative emotion. If a person does not harness this emotion, the negativity may turn into self-destruction. However, if a person can learn to harness and control it and turn it into positive energy, such as determination, passion, optimism and hope, the rewards can be staggering. It is really all about a change of focus.
Envy, resentment and jealousy are emotional reactions that are hard to separate from one another and are difficult to eliminate from our thought patterns. To be envious, is to wish you had something that someone else had. To be resentful, is to be angry and bitter because you do not have something that someone else has. For those with a chronic illness, injury or disease the thing that they want and do not think that they have, is health and full function. Because our culture is competitive in nature and there is such an emphasis on perfection and images that reflect the “perfect” person in magazines and in movies, when a patient is coping with an illness or condition, these feelings and emotions can be a monumental influence on their lives. A patient will need to learn to stop comparing themselves to what others have and what they look like and take themselves out of the competitive plane and focus on the abilities and strengths that they do have.
When coping with the onset of a chronic illness, injury or disease, grief can be one of the stages a patient may go through as they progress towards acceptance. There are typically three phases of grief: 1) Denial, 2) Emotional pain, 3) Acceptance.
Change can involve loss. Grieving involves focusing and feeling sad for our losses. Grief becomes a debilitating emotion when one cannot get through all the phases to the acceptance phase, but rather adopts a chronically negative way of thinking instead.
There is a blessing in the grieving process. As one goes through the three phases, one feels pain and agony and then finally the peace of acceptance. To go through the entire process, gives us a deeply rooted faith that all bad things do pass, that there is some way to deal with everything, no matter how hard or how bad it is, and that we will come out in the light. We are left ready and fully prepared to start over and rebuild.
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