Posts Tagged ‘love’

An Exercise to Help You Withstand Harassment

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

What I’m going to tell you in this post may not seem like it can help you live better with a chronic illness. But as I will explain shortly, it can. And between now and when I tell you how, my intention is to entertain you with a story.

Here it is: I’ve been by myself for almost a year. I’ve been looking for a woman to spend the rest of my life with, but so far haven’t found her. Maybe it’s because I and the women I go out with are more picky than we were when we were younger. Whatever the reason, this search is taking longer than I hoped it would.

To increase my chances of finding the love of my life, I signed up for a six-week online dating course. I am enjoying it and am learning a lot.

The man who developed the course had previously co-led a workshop to teach men many of the same things I am learning, and he told us about the following exercise from it: a man who was afraid of women for any reason would be brought to the front of the auditorium where the workshop was being held. Then 30 women would be brought in, and they would be told to scream the most hurtful insults they could think of at him for three minutes.

What would always happen, and it would usually take about 30 seconds, is that the man would start laughing, because he would realize that the women couldn’t hurt him. He would see that there was no substance to the fear he was holding on to: the worst that could happen was that 30 women would keep screaming and telling him what a piece of shit he was. But he realized that he was still standing there and was fine.

This exercise sounds like an excellent one to help men who are afraid of women. But I told you at the beginning of this post that what I was going to write about could also help you live better if you have a chronic illness.

Here’s how: when you have a chronic illness, you (probably) don’t have a bunch of women screaming insults at you. But if you’re like almost everyone else, you have a bunch of voices inside your head that are criticizing you,and very likely calling you names.

And just like the man standing at the front of the auditorium listening to those insults and voices realized that the insults didn’t change who he was, you have the opportunity to realize that the critical voices inside your head don’t change who you are. You’re the same person you’ve always been.

If you want to take this a step farther, you can tell the voices to go ahead and insult you. And they will! But when they do, you will realize and know that the worst that can happen is that they will tell you what a piece of shit you are (or whatever words they use). But them doing that no longer needs to hurt you or upset you!

I have been writing for many years about how the voices inside our head very often make our illness worse, often a lot worse, than it already is. And you now have a way to stop your voices from doing that.

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To learn about other effective ways to heal your pain, I invite you to sign up for my free E-Course: Learn How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

Love Heals

Monday, June 30th, 2014

I’m sure you have read or heard it said that love is the greatest healer of all. But often when we need it the most, that healing love can be hard to find. In this post, I’m going to share a very personal story about how I found a way access the healing power of love, with the hope and the intention that it helps you find a way to access it for yourself.

What happened was that after sharing some special intimate time with my girlfriend, I was half awake and half asleep, and she was gently and lovingly touching me. As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I was enjoying her touch a lot.

But what happened next was both unexpected and healing. I’m not sure how, but I went into the same state I was in many, many years ago when I was lovingly touched by my mother, and I stayed there. In it I felt very vulnerable, and also very loved and cared for.

While I eventually came out of that state, being in it has had a lasting effect on me. Over the next 24 hours, I realized that even though I haven’t been in touch with or aware of it, I have wanted and needed that kind of love and care ever since the time that memory was formed.

The next part of my story is hard to describe, but I’ll do my best.

Getting in touch with the part of me that needed that love and care was very empowering, because I have learned that I can give it to myself. In a way, it’s like having another person, who has his own needs, inside me.

That may sound strange, but it’s a pretty good description of how it feels. It’s a part of me I wasn’t aware of before. But even though I wasn’t aware of it, I have a strong sense that a lot of the sadness and discontent I would feel about my life from time to time came from it. Also, my sense is that a lot of the procrastination I used to suffer from was due to the angst that was coming from it.

Once I started checking in with that part of me, and then giving it the love and care it wanted and needed, I found myself happier, more at peace, and more focused.

Before the experience you’ve just read about, I knew that, like you and everyone else, I needed love and care. To meet that need, I would spend time with people who loved me and cared about me. I would also do my best to give myself love and care. Unfortunately, I was not able to do that nearly as well as I wanted. But that changed dramatically after I got in touch with the part of me that had long needed so much of it.

Having learned about myself, my sense is that there are many people (maybe most people) who have parts of themselves that need lots of love and care.

If you’re one of them, I hope this story will help you identify and get in touch with that part of yourself, and give it the love and care it needs. I know that doing so can – and does – heal both emotional and physical pain.

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To learn about other effective ways to heal your pain, I invite you to sign up for my free E-Course: Learn How to Raise Your Energy – and Your Spirit – in Just 21 Days.

A New Way to Use Three Important Words

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Four years ago, I wrote a post for my blog* in which I said that the words “I’m so sorry” were 3 of the most important words I had learned in my life. And I went on to explain why they were important, which was that there was a part of me that, because of having a chronic illness and having experienced many traumatic events in my life, was in a lot of emotional pain and needed to hear those words – from me.

I wrote about how I said them to myself in the mirror and how helpful that was, and that my clients found doing that very helpful too.

I recently got a video camera so that I can post videos online. As I was learning how to use it, it occurred to me that recording myself saying those three words, and then watching myself say them, could be a very powerful healing method. So I tried it, and found out it was.

Because I’m able to record myself with the camera, I have modified my technique. I made it a 3- step process, to take advantage of that capability. The first step was to record myself describing what is going on in my life; what’s going well, things I’m struggling with, and the positive and painful feelings I’ve been experiencing. This can be hard to do, but I have found it well worth doing.

The second step was to record myself being a wise, compassionate parent or mentor to myself. I acknowledged the part of me that is struggling and in pain and told him how sorry I was about what he is going through. Then I reminded that part of me about the good and wonderful qualities he has, reassured him, told him how much I loved him and let him know that I was there for him.

The final step was to watch the video. When I did, I sent lots of compassion to the person in the first part, the one who described what was going on in his life and what he was struggling with. And then I let in the compassion, the reassurance, and the love that the wise mentor in the second part of the video was giving to me.

Doing this has been very helpful for me, so I have started sharing it with my clients and others. I would love to hear how well it works for you.

*I’m So Sorry

Is there a connection between having an unhappy childhood and having a chronic illness as an adult?

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

With very few exceptions, everyone I’ve talked to who has a chronic illness (and I’ve talked to LOTS of people who do) has wondered why they got it. I have too. Many of them believe what I do: that one of the main factors that caused their illness, was having an unhappy and often traumatic childhood that included not getting nearly enough love from their parents or caretakers.

I believe there is a strong connection between our childhoods and our chronic illnesses for several reasons. The first is that the majority of the people with chronic illnesses I’ve coached over the past 10 years have told me that their childhoods were emotionally traumatic and that they didn’t feel very loved by one or both parents.

One recent client, whom I’ll call Lillian, is a good example. Neither of her parents was emotionally there for her when she was growing up, especially her father. And she’s had cancer – not once, but twice. She was diagnosed with lymphoma was she was seven years old. It responded to treatment, but she never fully recovered her health.

Then, 10 years ago, when she was 38, Lillian was diagnosed with leukemia. She had to undergo a bone marrow transplant. That cured the leukemia, but her body, including her immune system, were severely damaged and she hasn’t felt well or had what she considers to be a good day since. Is is just a coincidence that she didn’t get the love she needed (and still longs for) and that she has had cancer twice. I sure don’t think so.

The second reason I believe in that strong connection is because researchers have been finding more and more evidence that people who’ve had unhappy or stressful childhoods are much more likely to be diagnosed with chronic illnesses (and also chronic pain) as adults. The illnesses include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and many others.

The third reason I believe in the connection between an unhappy childhood and developing a chronic illness is my own experience. As I’ve written elsewhere, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 47. I feel strongly that having an unhappy childhood was one of two main causes (for reasons I won’t go into here, I believe that the other main cause was my many mercury-amalgam fillings).

There is one more reason I think there is a connection between having an unhappy childhood and developing a chronic illness. It comes partly from what I have learned and understood about  my clients, but more than that it comes from my own life. As a child, I developed a serious chronic illness that resembled polio, but wasn’t. I eventually recovered from it.

In a therapy session many years later, I had the profound but completely unexpected realization that I had deliberately but subconsciously acquired the illness to get  attention and love from my parents that I desperately wanted and needed, but wasn’t getting.

I wish I knew and could explain how I acquired the illness, but I don’t and can’t. But more than enough corroborating evidence came along with the realization to convince me that, beyond a reasonable doubt, it was true.

If, after reading what I’ve written, you suspect that you may have unconsciously decided to acquire a serious chronic illness, please don’t blame or criticize yourself for having done so. If you did that, it was because, like me, you had an unmet need. What you needed and didn’t get then was lots of compassion and understanding, and what you need and deserve now is lots of compassion and understanding. Please give them to yourself.

You also need lots of compassion and understanding if you had an unhappy childhood and there is a connection between it and the chronic illness you have now. Please give them to yourself – as much as you possibly can. Doing so helps bring about physical and emotional healing.

What’s so great about situation-specific self-compassion?

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

What’s so great about situation-specific self-compassion is that it is an extremely powerful tool for healing. In this post, I’m going to tell you what it is and how it differs from “normal” self-compassion.

Over the past few months, I recommended to several clients and others who have been going through very difficult challenges that they give themselves self-compassion, and they responded that they were doing that. But they weren’t- at least not in the way I meant.

From the descriptions they gave me and from their answers to my subsequent questions, I realized that the self-compassion they were giving themselves was broad and general, and was like the compassion a person would feel for an acquaintance or a distant relative who was going through a hard time. Maybe it was somewhat stronger than that. But it wasn’t self-compassion that was specifically about and for the challenge they were going through at the time. And because it wasn’t, it wasn’t very healing for them.

So I told them about situation specific self-compassion. And I told them that a good way to give it to themselves would be to imagine that someone they loved and cared about a lot was experiencing the same difficult challenges they were, and think about how they would feel knowing that.

They all said that they would feel lots of compassion for the person, and empathy too, and that they would want to comfort them. Some said that they would also feel sad or hurt because of what the person they loved and cared about was going through. That often happens, and it’s the main reason that it’s often hard for us to give ourselves situation-specific self-compassion.

Once they were in touch with the compassion and other feelings they would have for someone they loved and cared about who was going through the same challenge they were, I asked them to have the same feelings for and give the same compassion to themselves. Doing that didn’t make their difficult challenges go away, but it went a long way toward healing the emotional pain they were feeling.

I know it can do the same for you.

Do you need to take a time-out?

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

More than many others, those of us with chronic illnesses often get frustrated, discouraged, or upset because of how our illnesses affect our families and our relationships with others, because of all the things we want to do but no longer can, because we often face an uncertain future, and because of numerous other reasons as well.

One thing you can do that has worked well for many people with chronic illnesses—including me—is to give yourself a time-out.

Now as I’m sure you know, time-outs are often used by parents and teachers to discipline children that are misbehaving, and to give them some time to think about their behavior. So I want to make it very clear that I’m not suggesting that you discipline yourself.

Rather, what I am suggesting is that if you get upset, discouraged, or frustrated for any illness-related reasons, that instead of staying that way that you caringly, lovingly, and compassionately give yourself a time-out.

During your time-out, you can listen to music you enjoy, read a book, take in the beauty of flowers or a sunset, or just relax.

At the end of your time-out (and you get to decide how long to make it), the situation that prompted your feelings may still exist, but chances are that your negative feelings about it will be much less than they were.

Best wishes using this and the suggestions in my other posts to have a Happy New Year and your best life possible!

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Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people with chronic illnesses mend their broken spirits and then he helps them find inspiring dreams – and achieve them!

A New Golden Rule

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

My New Golden Rule will help you have a better life when you have a chronic illness. But before I tell you what it is, I want to say that if you aren’t following my frequent suggestion of giving compassion to any parts of your body that are hurting, I strongly encourage you to do that, because it works! Here are just two of many examples I know about:

1) A colleague of mine has a neighbor of who had been in a lot of pain for several weeks after her recent knee surgery. My colleague told her about my suggestion, and she began using it and experienced a remarkable and complete healing.

2) Over three recent days, my knee became more and more painful and swollen. I will never know for sure why, but the gradual onset of the pain matches what happens when the meniscus is torn. So I think I probably tore it on one of my occasional runs. It got so bad that I couldn’t sleep, and bending and straightening it was excruciating (which made walking very difficult and climbing stairs all but impossible). I went to the doctor, who prescribed a month’s worth of Advil and said I might need surgery.

I got home from the doctor’s office, took the first pill, and my knee started to heal. It continued to heal until, three days later, it had recovered completely (and I didn’t need any more pills after that first one). As I said, I don’t know what happened to my knee. But I have no doubt that all the love and compassion I gave it since the pain and swelling began were what enabled it to heal so quickly.

As I wrote at the beginning of this post, I strongly encourage you to give any parts of your body that are hurting lots and lots of compassion. And I hope you will share your results in a comment.

Now here is My New Golden Rule. It’s a modification of the Golden Rule, which as you probably know is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule comes from the New Testament of the Bible, but all major religions have similar maxims because the principle they are based on is so basic and important.

The New Golden Rule, which if you follow it will help you have a better life when you have a chronic illness, is this: “Do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.”

The reason for the modification is this: We know we’re supposed to treat others well (and I’m sure you do your best to do that), and we always want others to treat us well, but many of us often forget to treat ourselves well.

So remember to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. I know you will have a better and better life the more you do.

For other ideas for living well when you have a chronic illness, sign up for my free report:

Are You Trying to Get Your Own Attention and Love?

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Are you trying to get your own attention and love? I spent longer than I like to admit trying to get mine.

What happened was that I found myself spending far more time than I should have playing computer games when I had several very important things to do and deadlines that were fast approaching to meet. I kept trying to do the writing and other important paperwork that needed to be done, but no matter how hard I tried I would soon take a break to play “just one game,” which would turn into another and another and another. As you maybe can imagine, I was very upset and depressed over my behavior and my inability to do the things that were most important to me.

After throwing up my hands in near total despair, I decided to take a much deeper look at why I was procrastinating so much. And I decided to consciously intend to keep looking deeper while I slept that night. What I realized when I woke up the next morning was that there was a part of me that didn’t trust the part that was “giving the orders.”  That part didn’t feel like he was loved, and so he refused to do what he was told.

So, just like I let people in my life that I care about know that I love them, I let him know that I loved him more than words can describe. And once he knew that, he stopped his acting out.

What about you? Are there things you are doing that are counter-productive, including behaviors that are making your illness symptoms worse rather than better, that may actually be a part of yourself asking you for love and attention? I encourage you to look deeply within for the answer, and then give yourself the attention and love you need – and deserve!

Tom Robinson – Life Coach for People with Chronic Illnesses

www.chronicillnesscoach.com   408-398-9422

Who Do You Support and Encourage?

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Earlier this year I coached a young man who had chronic fatigue syndrome and some other health challenges that made his life very difficult. But he wasn’t a complainer and he did his best to get through each day.

As I got to know him, I learned that he was single and that he got tremendous satisfaction from working with at risk youths. He gave those kids lots and lots of love and support, including encouragement when they needed it and hugs when they needed them. Greg, as I’ll call him, was clearly a very caring young man.

I told Greg that I knew someone who could really use the love and support that he knew how to give. Out of curiosity and because he gets so much satisfaction helping others, Greg wanted to know who that person was. So I started describing him. I told Greg that the man I was talking about was a very giving person and very supportive of others and that he was in his late 20’s, and I provided some other information about him as well.

When I told Greg the person I was referring to had some serious health challenges, he realized I was talking about him. In an aha! moment, he also realized that he had been giving way more support and care to his at risk youth than he had to himself, that he wasn’t getting nearly as much support and care as he needed and that he could give them to himself as well as to at risk youth. And he started and continues to do that. How about 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.