Posts Tagged ‘arthritis’

Are you a people pleaser – or a YOU pleaser?

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Recently, I gave a coaching session to a woman I’ll call Brenda. We were looking at things she could do to make her life with Crohn’s disease, arthritis, and several other difficult challenges a lot better. As we did, Brenda started feeling so much emotional pain that she started to cry. That had happened earlier in the session and in several previous sessions as well.

As I coached her, it occurred to me that she could probably work through a lot of the pain that came up in coaching sessions by blogging. I told her so, and I also told her that blogging had the added benefit that if she wrote about the challenges she was going through and the painful feelings she experienced as she did, she would very likely get supportive comments from people who read her post.

Brenda agreed that blogging would probably be helpful. She didn’t commit to actually doing it, but she did commit to considering it and deciding if was the right thing for her to do. As I listened to Brenda, I had a strong sense that blogging would be very beneficial for her

In her session the following week, I found out that Brenda had not done what she had agreed to do: she did not spend any time thinking about blogging and its potential benefit. I asked her if she still thought that blogging about her challenges and her feelings would be helpful, and she said that she did.

But I sensed that something essential was missing and I said so. I told Brenda that until we found out what the missing piece was and added it back, blogging wasn’t going to be helpful for her.

Brenda quickly identified what the missing piece was. The previous week, she meant it when she said she would consider blogging, because she saw that it could be helpful. But the next week, when she said that she still thought blogging would be helpful, she said it not because she still believed it, but to please me.

Not surprisingly, that was not the first time Brenda said something to please someone else instead saying what was true for her. She saw that she had been doing that her whole life.

I told her that the person for her to please was not me. It was the woman in the mirror. I suggested that several times a day, she ask that woman how she could please her.

She said she would, and I’m looking forward to Brenda’s next session to find out how she’s pleased herself. I know that doing so will do her a lot more good than blogging just to please me would.

How about you? What will the person in the mirror tell you? Whatever it is (assuming that it doesn’t hurt anyone else) I encourage you to do it, and then leave a comment here telling my readers and me what you did.

It’s Never Wrong To Be Upset Or Scared

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Even though I have Crohn’s disease, I belong to support groups for people with other diseases. I joined them to learn more about what life is like for people who have different illnesses and also to give suggestions that I think will help others in the group. One group I belong to is for people with Still’s disease (Still’s is an inflammatory disease that can affect the joints, tissues, and organs).

A woman in the group  wrote that she had recently been diagnosed with Still’s. She said that she was familiar with that illness because a cousin whom she was close to had it for many years and died from it in his early 30’s.

Karen, as I’ll call her, wrote that some of her family members responded in a belittling way, saying that “Still’s is just a fancy name for plain old arthritis.” She said she felt hurt because those family members were dismissive of her year-long struggle to get a diagnosis for her night sweats, rashes, and crippling pain. (As an aside, “just plain old arthritis” can be very painful, and I would feel very hurt if I had it and didn’t get any compassion or understanding from my family.) Karen asked the others in the group if she was wrong for being upset and scared.

I hear that question from time to time from people with chronic illnesses, and my answer to Karen is always the same: No. Make that a very loud and clear NO!!

Having a chronic illness often makes our lives difficult and unpredictable, so it’s very understandable that a person who was diagnosed with one would become upset and scared. And given the fact that Karen’s cousin died from Still’s disease, I would be very surprised if she wasn’t scared when she learned she had the same illness he did.

So the answer to the question: Is it wrong to be upset and scared after being diagnosed with Still’s disease—or any other chronic illness—is no. But a much more important question for Karen to ask is: How do I deal with my feelings of being upset and afraid, and how do I take care of myself?

While she didn’t ask those questions directly, she asked for support from other members of the group, and she received several supportive replies. She was given the reassurance that Still’s disease is different for everyone who has it, so the fact that her cousin died from it was not an indication that she will too. She also received some good ideas for educating her non-supportive family members (who very  likely responded the way they did because of feelings of helplessness and discomfort that they weren’t aware of).

But one thing she didn’t receive were any suggestions to give herself lots of compassionate hugs because of all that she had gone through, because of how little understanding she got from her family, and because of how painful and difficult her symptoms were. I’ve seen “self-administered hugs” make a very big difference for lots and lots of people (as it has for me). So I hope Karen heeds my suggestion to do that. I hope you will too. And to learn about some other ways to take care of yourself when you have a chronic illness, I encourage you to read my free report: How to Have a Chronic Illness – Without Letting Your Chronic Illness Have You.

Is Your Life Better Than You Realize?

Monday, May 11th, 2009

A while back, I had a client whose arthritis was so bad she couldn’t walk. Many tasks, from cleaning her apartment to buying groceries and cooking meals, were very hard for Maria to do. On top of that she was in a lot of pain.

On the other hand, Maria had lots of friends whose company she enjoyed and with whom she got together on a regular basis. In addition, she was building a business making things she loved, and she had just taken up painting and was enjoying it very much.

In one of our coaching sessions, Maria was feeling very negative and told me that she hated her life. It was obvious to me that that wasn’t true, so I responded by telling her that she didn’t hate her life – that what she hated was her illness and her symptoms. Maria replied that my observation was correct. Then, without glossing over her painful symptoms or pretending they didn’t exist, she was able to acknowledge the many things and people in her life that she enjoyed and that gave her pleasure. And doing that made her much more able to get through her hard times and difficult days, and have a much better life overall.

I’ll conclude by saying that I know that for some of you reading this, right now there are very few if any things in your life that you enjoy. In that case, I think you will find some of my previous posts helpful, and I will give you more helpful suggestions in the future. And you can always contact me for a no cost consultation.

But if you are one of the many people with a chronic illness who focus and dwell on their symptoms and pain (which I even did myself at one time)  and overlook the positive aspects of their lives, then I invite you to fully acknowledge all the people you connect with and the things you do that you love and enjoy. I know you’ll be glad you did.

Acknowledging That Things Suck Can be a Good Thing

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

A while back, I had a session with a woman–I’ll call her Susan–who was dealing with some extremely hard challenges. To begin with, she’d had arthritis her whole adult life, and had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia (a painful and often debilitating chronic illness) six years earlier. On top of that, her marriage was rocky, money was tight, and her relationship with the owner of the small company she worked for was very strained. She said she was depressed and exhausted.

When Susan told me her story, it sounded to me like she was fighting a war. I didn’t try to minimize the difficulties she faced. I told her that I completely understood why she felt depressed and exhausted.

You might think that telling her how bad her life was would make her even more depressed. It didn’t. Instead it did the opposite. When she fully let in the circumstances of her life, she stopped feeling bad about feeling bad – and a space opened up to look at steps she could start taking to make her life better. By the end of our call, Susan told me she couldn’t remember the last time she had felt so hopeful. Susan wasn’t able to afford my coaching. But she did take steps to improve her life. Acknowledging that things suck really can be a good thing.