When you live with chronic pain and fatigue, there are a lot of things that can make you feel worse. Over-doing it, crappy weather, stress. But, sometimes thoughts and mental actions can make you feel physically worse as well.
Mental actions that can leave you feeling worse
1 . Feeling Sorry For Yourself!
When you focus on the negatives of your life, you give them power. Stop giving your power away. It’s OK to take a moment and think about what’s going in your life and what you might be able to do to change things. But, when you allow yourself to dwell on all that is wrong, those negative thoughts take over, leading to more stress, and generally making you feel worse mentally, which makes you feel worse physically.
2 . Avoiding Change
Too often we stay where we are because we are afraid of what change might lead to. We’ve been through so much that we are afraid that any change might just make things worse. It’s a valid fear, and well-earned. But, that fear is also keeping us from feeling better. We convince ourselves that it’s not worth attempting changes because “they probably won’t work anyway”, or “it’s too much work”. Is anything really too much work if it works? And you won’t know if it works unless you try. Even if that change doesn’t help, it’s one more thing you’ve ruled out.
There’s no way to know if a change will help you feel better until you try it.
3. Wasting Energy on Things You Can’t Control
There is much in life that is within our control, and yet we spend most of our energy on the things we can’t control.
We worry about the past, the things we said, the things that happened, and wish we could change it (we can’t), or wonder what might have happened if we’d done or said something differently. The “I should have’s” take over. All this does is increase stress and make us feel worse. We worry about what someone else might say or do. We worry about what other people are thinking. These are things we can’t control.
The only thing we can control is our own actions and reactions at the moment. Focus on the things you can do, stop wasting time on the things you have no power over.
Focus on the things you can control, stop wasting time on the things you have no power over.
4. Trying to Please Everyone
Most of us with fibromyalgia suffer from the dreaded disease of “yes, of course, sure”. These are our answers to any request from anyone. We don’t stop to think about whether we really can, or what else in our life saying yes might impact. We don’t even stop to check our calendar and see if there’s an overlap with some other commitment. And, once we discover that there is a problem, we still don’t try to cancel. We decide we can do it anyway. We’ll make it work.
We need to stop making everything work for everyone else and start focusing on taking care of ourselves. Focus even half that energy we are spending on everyone else on ourselves and we might start feeling better. You can’t please everyone, so stop trying. The people who really love you don’t need you to break yourself to please them. You please them by existing.
You can’t please everyone, so stop trying. The people who really love you don’t need you to break yourself to please them. You please them by existing.
5. Resenting Other People’s Success
It’s amazing how often we look around and see others succeeding only to feel a little cringe of jealousy. Even if we are succeeding at something else, or have no desire to succeed in the way they are succeeding, we get jealous. That is just so silly, yet we do it anyway.
I can only imagine how much of a negative impact those negative feelings are having on our bodies and minds. If someone else is successful we should feel happy for them. If they are successful in a way that we want to be successful then we should feel happy for them and then ask them how they did it. When it comes to fibro I see it a lot. Someone finds something that helps them feel better and everyone around them says “Oh well they must not have really had fibromyalgia….” It’s sad really. We have a hard enough time proving that our illness is real to the world at large, shouldn’t all of us with Fibro (and any chronic illness) be supporting each other?
Don’t resent the success of others, cheer them on and ask them how they did it. Learn from it and create your own success.
6. Expecting Immediate Results
We have to be open to change, but we have to understand that making changes does not always yield immediate results. Your changes also have to be consistent if you want to see results. Consistency x Time = Results.
One of the biggest problems I see when it comes to making any sort of commitment to health is that people want to see immediate results. If someone doesn’t see immediate results from diet changes or exercise, they are ready to quit. But, results take time and consistency. We know this in our heads, yet we don’t accept it in our hearts. So, when we try something new and we don’t see positive changes immediately, we are ready to quit before we’ve given it a chance. Don’t quit. Make positive changes and give them time to show you their worth.
I am personally guilty of every one of them at different times. However, I think the one that tends to get me the most is focusing on things I can’t control. The “I should have’s” and running through a conversation or interaction that already happened in my head to figure out what I should have done differently. This rumination does nothing but create stress and anxiety.