Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Is Chronic Illness Making It Hard for You to Believe In Yourself?
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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