Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Is Chronic Illness Making It Hard for You to Believe In Yourself?

Welcome to another Question of the Week.

Several people in my social circles have been writing and talking about self esteem lately.  The conversations have run the gamut, from "I admit I care about what other people think of me." to "If I can do it, you can. I believe this with all of my heart."

What I have taken away from these conversations is a renewed appreciation for my ability to believe in myself.  Let me explain...

Chronic Illness Can Take a Toll...

I think chronic illness can take a real toll on your sense of self.

I admit there have been plenty of times where I have doubted my judgement, my view of reality and my self-worth when faced with all the baggage that comes with a life filled with ongoing health problems. Those moments have often come after a difficult encounter with another person, like a less-than-helpful medical professional or an uneducated healthy person, who has just questioned whether I am truly ill and/or in need of treatment.

I just don't get why these folks need to make it hard for me for no apparent reason. 

Then there are those moments when the loved ones around me spew out that stray hurtful remark or judgmental comment about my chronic life.  It's those moments that can slap me right in the face and send me reeling.  I'm always discouraged by how I can suddenly feel all alone in my struggles, like no one understands or can support me.

...But It Can Also Change Your Perspective

I love how my friend who cares about other people's opinions also said, "I may not let it hurt me, or change my course- and certain people's opinion of me is insignificant- but, in general, of course, I care."  As her peer, I appreciate the maturity and wisdom in that statement.  I too feel the same way: I care about my interactions with other people, but I also choose if I let someone else's opinion of me hurt me, change my mind or hold any weight.

Then I realized that living with chronic illness for the last 7 1/2 years has helped me believe in myself more.  I've achieved this by learning to take better care of myself by unselfishly putting myself first.  Most of the time I don't let what others say or do ruin my day or my mood, because that kind of stress isn't good for me, my chronic illnesses or my efforts to manage them.

When it comes right down to it, what I think, feel and believe are the most important things to me.  Period.

So What Do You Think?

Is chronic illness making it hard for you to believe in yourself?  What specific situations or people make it difficult for you? What do you think you'll need to do to turn this around? How can I help make that happen for you too?

Please share both your struggles and successes in this area by leaving a comment here or over at the Oh My Aches and Pains! Facebook page.

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Migrainista said...

Living with chronic pain has certainly challenged my sense of self in every way. I too also struggle when someone says something really insensitive, judgemental and/or rude about my illnesses. Ultimately I've had to completely reframe my thinking and fight against soceity's expectations and definations...a journey that continues.

Anonymous said...

I can give myself instructions about how not to let anyone's comments bother me. I can 'gear up' for the inevitable. I can say I don't care until I truly believe it and then...in a flash I can be blindsided by someone. This past week I had an unfortunate encounter with an uninformed doctor. It always surprises me how little most of them know about Fibromyalgia. He called it a waste basket diagnosis.(Like I haven't heard that before!) But not before telling me that I need to exercise and get a friend in order to facilitate a cure for myself.

Anyway...It helps just reading your posts. I always sense a positivity about you. That is encouraging to me.


Felicia Fibro said...

I think that during the first few years of my fibromyalgia it make my self esteem worse, but now days I think it has lessened how much I worry about what other people think.

Before I was a an over-achiever in nearly everything that I did and I wanted people to know that I worked hard. Now, I know that I simply cannot overwork myself to ensure that someone else doesn't think less of me without paying dyer consequences. Obviously, those physical consequences are not worth it. So now I just don't worry about it.