Posts Tagged ‘appreciation’

Is Your Liver Feeling Unappreciated?

Friday, November 7th, 2014

In the title of this post, I ask if your liver is feeling unappreciated. But that’s not exactly what I meant. The real question I want to ask you is, do any of your organs and body parts that are affected by your illness feel unappreciated? But there wasn’t enough room in the title to ask that, so I asked about your liver instead.

You probably haven’t been asked whether those organs and body parts feel unappreciated, and you’re probably wondering why I would ask you if yours do.

Here’s my answer: Imagine that, in a very difficult environment, you work hard for someone, striving to do the best job you can accomplishing a task that is very important to them. Then imagine that when you finish, instead of thanking you and expressing appreciation, the person you’ve been working for finds and criticizes you for all the imperfections, no matter how small, in the work you’ve done.

The fact that those imperfections are because you didn’t have the tools you needed and because of the tough work environment are completely ignored, and the criticism is harsh, and it stings.

If you had an experience like that, you would feel awful. And if you had to do the job again in the future, you probably would not have any motivation to do it well. So you would do it halfheartedly at best.

Getting back to your organs and body parts, they are made up of cells, which are living organisms. And all organisms, including you, animals, plants, and your body’s cells, respond similarly to the way you and I do to positive emotions like love and communications of appreciation, and they also respond similarly to negative emotions like anger and communications of criticism.

So to keep your afflicted organs working their best, even though they’re not working as well as you wish they were, let them know you appreciate them and let them know that you know they are doing the best job they can even though they have been afflicted and affected by illness.

If you would like to learn specific ways to do that, as well as some other helpful things you can do for them and for yourself, I invite you to sign up for my free report:

Learn How to Maximize Your Body’s Healing Ability When You Have a Chronic Illness.

To have a better life, have different conversations

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

In my 11 years as a coach for people with chronic illnesses, and as someone who has a chronic illness himself, I have learned that having conversations is one of the best ways for us to make our lives better.

But in order for them to make our lives better, they need to be the right kinds of conversations, and they can’t be with just anyone. In fact, the conversations I’m referring to aren’t ones with another person.

At this point, you’re likely wondering just who or what I’m suggesting that you have a conversation with. My answer is: your organs that have been affected by your illness.

Now obviously, you can’t have verbal conversations with your organs. But you can ask them, again in a non-verbal way, what they want and what you can do for them.

When I have my clients do this, and when I do it myself, I have found that if after we ask we wait quietly, we almost always get an answer.

When a client of mine who, along with chronic fatigue, has digestive challenges asked her stomach what it wanted and how she could help it, the answer she got back was that it wanted attention, appreciation, and it wanted her to take better care of it by being more careful about what she ate.

Of course, the answer you get will depend on many factors, including what illness you have and which organs are affected.

One other conversation that both my clients and I have found helpful, and I think you will too, is a conversation with your illness. You can ask it what it wants you to know about why you have it, what if any life lessons it has for you, and what you can do to live better with it. If you do this, you will very likely be surprised at how much the answers you get help you to live a better life.

Please note: while these conversations with your organs and your illness can be very helpful, they are not intended to be used as a substitute for any medical care or treatments you are receiving.

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Do You Get Upset at Yourself for Procrastinating?

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

I sent this tip to my list recently and received many thoughtful comments in response. So decided to post it for my blog readers, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers to see and comment on.

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Many people, myself included, sometimes procrastinate instead of doing the things we need to. That can cause problems for us – especially if, because of our chronic illness, we aren’t able to do as much as other people are (which is often the case). So when we find ourselves putting off doing what needs to be done and doing something else instead, we often get frustrated, upset, annoyed, and very discouraged with ourselves.

It’s completely understandable that we would feel that way. However, it doesn’t make our lives any better. But we can make them better by compassionately asking the part of ourselves that’s procrastinating why it is.

Maybe it’s doing so because we’re telling it what to do in a critical and denigrating way; maybe it’s doing so because we’re not giving it and our body the rest they need; or maybe it’s doing so because we haven’t given it the appreciation it deserves for all that it’s done for us in spite of our health challenges.

Regardless of the reason that part of us has been dragging its feet and not doing what we need it to, once we know why we can give it whatever it needs so it gives us what we need.

Best wishes using this and my other tips to have your best life possible.

I am a Crohn’s disease survivor. I  help people struggling with chronic illnesses feel a lot better and enjoy life a lot more.

I have a free report I think you will find very helpful:

Has Your Chronic Illness Got You Down? Learn What to Do to Feel a Lot Better and Enjoy Life a Lot More

P.S. It’s Not What You Think

Do You Feel Like You’re a Burden to Others?

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

When we have a chronic illness, it’s easy and very common to feel that we’re a burden to our partners and our families. We often need them to do many things for us that partners and family members of healthy people don’t need to do. At the same time, there are often things we can’t do with them that they and we wish we could do. So it’s no surprise that many of us feel like we’re a burden to others.

The good news is that there are several things you can do to counteract that feeling. The first is to frequently let others know how much you appreciate all the things they do for you. We can get caught up in our symptoms and pain and forget to do that, but when we remember, it makes a big difference for them because they know that they’re not being taken for granted. From time to time, you can show your partner or spouse that you are especially grateful for their help by getting a little gift or card and hiding it someplace where it will surprise them, like in a sock or lingerie drawer. You can do similar things for others who help you (although you may need to find a different hiding place 🙂 ).

Another thing you can do to counteract feeling like you’re a burden is to make sure you don’t dwell so much on your illness and symptoms that you ignore the other people in your life. Even though you may not be able to participate in all the activities with them that you and they wish you could, your caring, support and encouragement – including support and encouragement for them to balance taking care of you with taking care of themselves – can make a tremendous difference in their lives.

I wrote in this previous post about finding meaning in your life when you have a chronic illness. Doing that may not lessen the physical needs that you depend on others to meet, but can help you feel less emotionally dependent on them, which can also help counteract the feeling of being a burden.

Here’s one final suggestion: It really is a privilege for us as human beings to be able to serve others. Doing so fulfills us like nothing else can. So even though taking care of you and your needs may not be easy for your partner or spouse, family, and friends, they definitely get value from doing it.

How to Have a Meaningful Life When You Have a Chronic Illness

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

It usually seems to be the case that having a chronic illness diminishes our lives. From traveling to eating to working and playing, we feel limited by how much and for how long we can do the things we want to do. However, it is very possible – and it can be incredibly satisfying – to use our illnesses as a way to add to our lives, by making them more meaningful. In working with people with chronic illnesses for many years, I have observed that many of them already do that, and I’ve had the rewarding privilege of helping others do the same. In this article, I’m going to share with you some ways people with chronic illnesses have found to have more meaningful lives because of – rather than in spite of – having a chronic illness, and I’m also going to share my thoughts and suggestions for how you can do the same.

A couple of things many of my clients did that made their lives more meaningful were to be much more appreciative and grateful for their friends and family than they were before they became ill, and to take advantage of their illness-caused slower walking and moving through life speed to really appreciate the natural beauty around them – beauty they often hadn’t noticed before. If you are doing either or both of these, great! If not, what would your life be like if you did?

A simple but effective way to use your chronic illness to have a meaningful life is to just live the best you can. I don’t think most of us are aware of how much we can and do inspire others when we do that. Maybe it’s really hard for us to get out of bed and do all the things we need to do to take care of ourselves, our families, and get through each day, but we do so as well as we can without thinking that it’s anything special. But those who know how hard we struggle will often see what we do as an inspiring demonstration of courage and fortitude.

I’ve seen this in my brother’s marriage. His wife has multiple sclerosis and is in pain a lot of the time. It’s a major effort for her to get out of bed every day, but in spite of that she almost always has a cheerful disposition and a positive outlook on life – and because of that my brother refers to her as his heroine.

I also saw this kind of demonstration of courage and fortitude in a client I had several years ago, although at first he didn’t see it. He was worried that, because of his illness related limitations, he was being a poor father figure role model for his two young sons. He wanted to show them that a father is the breadwinner, that he helps around the house, and that he spends a lot of quality time playing and doing other things with his sons. But because of his illness, he couldn’t work and couldn’t spend much playtime or other time with his sons. There’s no question that his sons missed out on some quality father son time with their dad. But that fact notwithstanding, they saw their seriously ill father doing his best to be the best father he could be and living his life as well as he possibly could. By doing that, he was an excellent role model for them and I’m sure had a very positive impact on them as well.

My next suggestion for having a meaningful life when you have a chronic illness is to find ways to help others who also have chronic illnesses. One way to do that is to go to chronic illness support groups. Obviously the vast majority of people who go to support groups, both the live and online ones, do so to receive support. But you can go to them for a different reason: to share what you’ve learned about how to live the best life you can with others who want and need that knowledge. The people you help will almost always be very grateful and you will feel good for the difference you make in their lives.

Before I invite you to decide on how you will use your illness to bring more meaning into your life, I want to tell you about Zolisa, a woman who called me from London several years ago and told me her story. Zolisa, who acquired AIDS from her ex-husband, was an immigrant from South Africa.  In her culture, women were expected to acquiesce to their husbands’ demands for sex, even if doing so put their own health and lives at risk. Zolisa knew that she was not alone; she knew that other women who were also immigrants from South Africa were still following the established custom of acquiescing to their husbands. She decided that she had to do something to stop these women from becoming infected with AIDS, so she made it her mission to empower them to stand up to and say no to their husbands. She told me that doing that was very meaningful for her. In fact, it became so meaningful that she told me that even if it were possible for her to turn back the clock and to have never gotten AIDS in the first place, she would not do that.

Now it’s your turn. I invite you now to think about what you’ve learned from having your illness, what aspects of life are important to you, and with those in mind, decide on the best way for you to use your illness to bring more meaning into your life.

The Positive Side of Having a Chronic Illness

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Many of my new clients are surprised by one of the items on the questionnaire I request that they fill out before our first session. I ask them to list at least three benefits they’ve experienced because of having their illness. Maybe it will suprise you to know that there was only one person who said she couldn’t think of any.

Even though it took place five years ago, I will always remember a conversation I had with a woman who was living in London. Before Zolisa immigrated there from Africa, she had been diagnosed with AIDS, which she had gotten from her ex-husband.

In her culture, woman were expected to acquiesce to their husband’s demands for sex, and as a result many women became infected. Instead of staying bitter or feeling victimized, what Zolisa decided to do was to make it her mission to empower other African women in London to stand up to their husbands, so that they wouldn’t become infected with AIDS.

I found Zolisa’s response to her illness very inspiring. But what made it unforgettable was when she told me that her mission and work were so satisfying to her that if it were possible for her to be cured of AIDS, she would decline. What she was doing meant more to her than becoming disease free.

Very few, if any, of us would turn down a cure for our illness. However, as I said above, I’ve only encountered one person who couldn’t think of any benefits from having an illness. Some of the more common ones were being more appreciative of Nature’s beauty and being more compassionate. And people listed many others.

What about you? What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a result of having your illness? I invite you to leave a comment to share them with others.