When you live with fibromyalgia and having to juggle your life around it, it’s understandable that you will have times when it can make you feel pretty miserable. This type of misery, albeit something we’d rather not have, is intermittent and something that can be managed. However, this is not the same as a deep, debilitating misery that easily develops into depression and requires specialist treatment.
On the other hand, a problem with intermittent misery only arises if the misery filters into other areas of your life and impacts on others around you. Nobody expects to have fibromyalgia, it isn’t what you wanted for yourself and you didn’t choose to have it, but only when you come to terms with the changes thrust upon your life, can you go beyond the misery of fibromyalgia. Once you begin to see that intermittent “misery” is only a mindset, the good news is that a mindset can be changed – it’s all about choice.
What is a Mindset?
A mindset “is a way of thinking” – a mental inclination or a frame of mind shaped by your “thinking habits” which are formed in early childhood. Most of your thinking habits that you apply today have already been programmed into your brain’s wiring and is the short circuit to how your mind ticks.
Question – Are you a glass half empty or glass half full thinking type person? Your programmed mind informs you on HOW and WHAT you think and these form the basis of your belief system. Sometimes people go through their whole life and never question their belief system.
Where do beliefs come from and are they true?
Your beliefs create your reality, so what you believe, whether they are true or not, your brain will take them as the real deal! The thing is, this influences your emotional state and how you feel about yourself. It also impacts on how you make sense of your world, how you feel about it and where you place your focus.
For instance if you have a mind-set that drives you down a negative lane, then you’ll only notice and attract more negativity towards your destination. What’s more, your mind will be bombarded with negative thoughts coupled by surges of negative emotions in your body. All of this is wasted energy that could be fueling your tank to switch lanes, put your foot down and steer you along a happier lane.
The bottom line is that your mind will only take you in the direction you tell it to go – it’s up to you to make sure that you’re taking yourself in the right direction!
Your mindset is a big deal, it influences your Attitude and in turn this influences your INTENTION, BELIEFS and SELF TALK. What you tell yourself becomes your MINDSET and REALITY.
An attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.
Psychologists define attitudes as a learned tendency to evaluate things in a certain way. This can include evaluations of people, issues, including HEALTH, objects or events. Such evaluations are often positive or negative, but they can also be uncertain at times. Where fibromyalgia is concerned, it’s really worth reevaluating your mindset towards it and check out these three components:
- An Emotional Component: How the object, person, issue or event makes you feel.
- A Cognitive Component: Your thoughts and beliefs about the subject.
- A Behavioral Component: How the attitude influences your behavior.
Your attitude is how you feel about something and a good question to ask yourself is “How do I feel about my life, about my health and fibromyalgia? Are there any areas where I could make improvements?”
- Do you feel you have control over making these improvements? When you feel you have little or no control, this may give rise to inner conflict resulting with feelings of helplessness, lack of motivation, energy and feelings of hopelessness – an you will thoughts that support these.
- Your thoughts will power your emotions and reinforce your beliefs and if your reality is that “I think I have little control over my fibromyalgia,” what it’s really saying is I’m certain of this and I believe this I know I have little control over my fibromyalgia!
- Your behaviour and actions reflect how you feel and think and if this is rooted in hopelessness and despair, your behavior becomes the actions that will keep you in a state that match your thoughts, feelings and emotions.
The difference between an emotion and a feeling is having and knowing. An emotion is a physiological experience (or state of awareness) within the body, such as happy, sad or fear, whereas a feeling is your conscious awareness of the emotion itself.
Beliefs and Mindset
A belief is simply a thought you keep thinking, a feeling of certainty about something and form the basic building blocks of your ideas and opinions. Where do your ideas come from? Some of your ideas come from:
Childhood programming we receive from parents, family, teachers, authority or siblings, friends and form deep embedded beliefs early on in childhood that sometimes are never questioned.
Information, books, media, Face Book, advertising are all subliminal messages that penetrate the subconscious part of the mind and are completely outside of awareness, nonetheless they are planting ideas in your mind. Beliefs are like a brick wall. As you build references and experiences, you add bricks and structure to your wall. When your idea feels certain, it becomes a belief.
You only have to look at all the negativity that surrounds fibromyalgia and the misery it creates. This doesn’t mean to say that if you have it, that it’s something worth celebrating, that’s a no-brainer! But at the same time you can see how easy it is to get hooked into the negatively entrenched collective consciousness and some of it is not yours or in your awareness, but it rubs off on you nonetheless. Before you know it – Pow! It hits that brick wall you’ve been building with a tonne of bricks so high that you can’t see over and beyond it!!
The one thing that I learned very quickly during the early stages of my fibromyalgia was that if I was going to have to live with this awful, debilitating invisible illness, then I would not let it build a wall around me or define me. At the end of the day, fibromyalgia is a label, it’s a medical term given to an illness that bears no resemblance to the illness whatsoever!
The most important thing about fibromyalgia is the coming to terms with it and accepting that there’s no old you to get back to – only a new you waiting for you to breathe in new energy and doing what you can to maintain a quality back to life. Self-care is key and brings a sense of wellbeing so badly needed during these times of uncertainty and stress, where we have very little to distract ourselves. Here’s a few of my mindset self-care tips:
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Get out of auto-pilot mode. Why hand your life over to chance?
- Live each day with intention. Ask yourself “What is it that matters most to you today”?
- Develop keystone habits – they produce a ripple effect throughout other areas of your life.
- Keep a journal to release your thoughts and feelings onto paper, track progress etc. Why carry your worries around in your head?
- Pace yourself – Create your own sanctuary, give yourself a time, a place and space to do what’s good for your soul – An Island in the Stream.
- Pause to check in with yourself – centre yourself with a grounding technique by simply noticing these four things: One thing you can see, hear, feel and touch and bring yourself back to the here and now.
- Be aware of your obstacles – what causes the stress in your life and learn how to overcome them.
- Learn how to re-frame your thoughts by asking “Is this really true?”
- Practice Breathing Techniques and how to use the breath as your remote control.
- Re-align your values – are you living your life in conflict with what’s really important to you?
- Learn how to recognize how your body responds to pain and check out the internal chitter-chatter you attach to it and give your self daily affirmations that you trust in your body’s natural healing.
- Avoid overthinking, ruminating or worrying about the future, learn how to catch these habits in the act and swiftly shift your focus.
- Give yourself the compassion that you give to others.
- Learn mindfulness meditation to build your resilience and combat stress.
- Practice gratitude, find five things to be grateful for everyday which works by rewiring positive thoughts into your brain’s neural pathway.
- Get help if you feel depressed, talk to your GP.
Author Jok Saunders founder of the Fibro Clinic Southwest