Is your chronic illness feeling like a vicious circle? You live with a level of pain, fatigue, or another symptom on an ongoing basis and try to live your life as best you can. Maybe you work a full day and because you want to get a piece of work done and do well at it, you may stay late fairly regularly.
Or you’re at home, your other half offers to help you with a task but you say no because you don’t want to impinge on them. You think you should be able to sort things out yourself. But you’re tired, so tired, and maybe in pain too.
Day after day, month after month, feeling like you’re just going around and around. There isn’t a balance and your life with a chronic illness is feeling like a vicious circle. Is this what your life is meant to be like now?
Your chronic illness feeling like a vicious circle can change – The key is you
I found in research I did on coaching people with chronic illness that the key lies in the story you tell yourself day in day out. The story often highlights a psychological vicious circle you are getting yourself into.
Don’t worry, we all do this. Every. Single. Person. So you are not alone.
But becoming aware of your vicious circle is the starting point because awareness gives you choice. You can then decide to do something different, stay the same, or something else.
This is important. Vicious circles create stress and stress can exacerbate a condition’s symptoms. And living with worsening symptoms doesn’t help you to enjoy life and can inhibit you from doing what you really want to do.
From the research I did, this is what I learned about how to become aware of any vicious circles you may be getting yourself into.
1. Tell your story
Think of a situation that recurs where you feel particularly tired, in pain, in a low mood, or are asking yourself ‘is this it?’ practically every time the situation happens. Pretend to be the narrator of your story and tell yourself what is happening to you, what and people around you are doing, saying, thinking, feeling.
2. Record your story
Tell your story again, but more slowly this time, step by step. Record it can help. You can write it down, record yourself telling it, or draw it. This is important. Because in your story lies the key that will unlock you from it and help you to write the new story you want for yourself. Here is an example of a client’s chronic illness feeling like a vicious circle.
3. Listen to your story about your chronic illness feeling like a vicious circle intently
Concentrate on it. Are you noticing words or phrases you are using over and over again, like ‘should’, ‘I wish’, or ‘if only they would’? Or patterns of behaviour, for example, you come up with things you can do to change your situation, but then you find reasons for not making those changes? Highlight all this and whatever else seems important to you in some way.
Also notice the sensations you feel in your body as you read through your story. This is very valuable information as many times if we are unhappy, in pain, tired, fed-up, it signals itself in our body first. Note this down too.
Using the example above, point 3 came up as something important, then points 5, 6 and 7.
4. Identify your key to change
This is about finding the key(s) to unlock yourself form your story. In your vicious circle, look at what you highlighted or noted as you intently listened. Let’s go back to our example so I can show you what I mean.
Point 3 is important as the person is hoping others will tell them what they can do. But actually, they can give themselves the permission to go home or take a break.
Point 5 mentions that going home would be ‘giving in’ to the condition, but what if going home to rest was actually the best thing you could do in that situation to look after yourself? What if ‘giving in’ was actually taking control?
Points 6 and 7 meant that the person would stay late at work, and get lots done, but was wearing themselves out in the process, which meant they couldn’t use their day off to do things they enjoyed and the tiredness built up over time.
With all this new awareness, a new story was written and enacted, which resulted in a decrease in symptoms including pain. In turn, this resulted in a lowering of pain medication. And all of this was in their control. Talk about feeling major personal accomplishment! 🙂
What’s it like for you?
What vicious circles do you get yourself into? And how do you get yourself out of it? Feel free to share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.
If living with your chronic illness is feeling like a vicious circle and want a supportive and objective partnership to help you break out of it, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.
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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2015