Monday, April 4, 2011

Question of the Week: How Do You Deal with Conflict?

ConflictImage by Rishi S via Flickr
Wow, last week was rough and boy am I glad that it's over.

Getting through it got me thinking about how daily life and chronic illness intertwine, intersect and together can create a really big pile of problems, hassles and obstacles to overcome. I know that life is unfair, but I still find myself wishing that having chronic illness meant I got a hall pass so I could skip all the other crap that life piles on sometimes.

Last week also got me thinking about how having chronic illness has changed the way that I look at and deal with life.

I can definitely say that for the first several years of my life with chronic illness, I took a more passive role when it came to dealing with problems. Initially, I chose to avoid stressful situations and conflicts with other people because I thought it was easier than getting all flared up.

But a few years ago I realized that this wasn't really working for me and didn't fit with who I was before I got sick. I was always the kind of girl to tackle problems head-on and wasn't afraid of a little conflict. Being more passive just made me more angry and resentful, which in turn wasn't helping me feel any better.

My challenge was figuring out how to be more assertive without making things worse for myself.

Let me tell you, this is not an easy thing to figure out when you live with fibromyalgia as your daily companion. Over the years, I've found that this neurological condition makes me more vulnerable to stresses of every kind: physical, mental and emotional. Even good stress, like being excited about an upcoming fun event, makes my nervous system go a little wonky and gets me wired and overstimulated. This often translates into a vicious cycle some of my friends on Twitter call "painsomnia." In my case, being wired causes insomnia which leads to more pain which leads to more insomnia...

How I deal with conflict now is still work in progress, but here is what I've come up with so far:
  • Deal with conflict early in the day so there is time to calm down and relax before bed.
  • Only get worked up about the really important things.
  • Learn to let go and move on when things don't work out my way.
  • Recognize that if an issue keeps coming up, it's time to deal with it.
  • Remember that I always have options, even when I can't always see what they are.
  • Know that not everybody is going to like me, but at the end of the day I need to be able to like myself.
So has living with chronic illness change the way that you deal with problems and conflict?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject so please leave me a comment here or head over to the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page and join the discussion there.

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laurie said...

How do I deal with conflict and stress? Apparently not very well. It's only Monday morning and I was awakened by a mother who screamed at me and while I know she is nervous, she really doesn't have to be nasty. Before I could call her back I had to pick up my daughter from school and bring her home to check for ticks. After that I called my mother (while trying to calm down over a cup of tea) and now have knots in my stomach that are making me hurt and feel bad. So, how am I dealing with it? Not well at all.I will take a long, hot bath tonight after dinner that I am making for my family, feeding the dog, doing 5 loads of laundry, trying to sleep, which at best is 50/50 and wake up to bring my mother (yeah, the one who yelled at me) to her doctor's appointment AFTER my doctor's appointment. Sigh. (btw, selena, i couldn't post to FB, it wouldn't connect) any helpful hints are appreciated!!!!

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

what was with last week?? Same thing for me!

Anonymous said...

I just decided that for my own mental sanity, I can't let myself get worked up. Having multiple chronic illnesses, and then some really stressful situation on top of it... is just impossible.

I try to do as much as I can to fix whatever the situation is, or if I can do nothing just yet to change it, I acknowledge it, vent it out to a friend, write in my blog, and then force myself to forget about it. I deal with it once I'm able, I vent, then stop and change what I'm doing to forget about it. Letting something that you can't do anything about... or do any more to change it, is a waste of what could be happy time. And I can't let that stress affect my body. I take it, do what I can, then drop it at the door and leave it there.