A few years ago if I read the title “Grateful For Fibromyalgia” I would have wanted to slap the author. Forcefully. But hear me out for a few minutes, and try not to think murderous thoughts towards me, ok?
One of the lessons I learned from managing a chronic condition is that mindset and mood greatly affect the amount of pain and discomfort we feel. This is true for everyone, even non-fibro peeps. Numerous books have been written that clearly establish a strong link between mind and body health.
That being said, those of us with fibro often suffer mood or anxiety problems that arise from our health challenges. Actually, the trouble is rooted in what we THINK about our health challenges and the negative self-talk we often torture ourselves with. Have you ever thought:
This is so unfair.
Why did this happen to me?
Why am I so unlucky?
What have to done to deserve all this pain?
I’ll never get better.
I may as well give up; my life is ruined.
These kinds of stress-provoking thoughts, playing on an endless loop, do nothing to help your pain. In fact, they often intensify symptoms like headaches and IBS issues. So what’s the antidote?
Well, it’s not enough to just vaguely “think positive.” But I can tell you this—keep wallowing in negativity and you will constantly suffer. And who wants that?
There are many tactics that helped me repair my health and I can share that #1 among them is a daily expression of gratitude.
Some days it’s difficult to find much to be thankful for but I challenge you to cultivate a sincere “attitude of gratitude” in your life. What if you can’t get out of bed? Be grateful you have a safe, clean place to sleep—not everyone does. Maybe your head feels like it’s going to explode. Be grateful that you know how to calm yourself with deep breathing and inhaling essential oils like peppermint.
There is ALWAYS a bright side, however dire the situation may seem. Make it your mission to find it and truly give thanks. If you believe in a Higher Power, give thanks to that entity. If you do not, thank the Universe.
A good tool for strengthening your gratitude muscle is to keep a journal and each night before bed, write 3 brief things you are most grateful for that day. This is beneficial in many ways. First, knowing that you will do this each night keeps you on the look-out all day for positives. Also, when you are feeling low you can go back and review these highlights, keeping you focused on the upside of life rather than the suffering.
A last word on gratefulness with fibro; believe it or not, there will come a day when you actually see the silver lining in dealing with fibro. I know that may seem impossible and I also know none of us would choose feeling ill over being 100% healthy but consider this: if you didn’t have fibro, would you put as much value on eating right, making time to exercise, learning to de-stress, or tending to your self-care? I know I didn’t…until I had to, in order to function.
I also realize that a lifetime of unhealthy habits could have caused me even worse damage than fibromyalgia. I do not have a terminal illness. I have a manageable condition. I see it as a wake-up call to make my health a priority while I still can. My “curse” has turned out to be a blessing.
To be clear, I do not in any way diminish anyone’s experience of fibromyalgia and fully recognize the pain and suffering. I was there, for too many precious years. The great news is that we can all make mindset and lifestyle choices to lessen our discomfort. Practicing gratitude is a great way to begin.
In what ways have you tried to cultivate gratitude in your life? Please share with us and leave a comment below.