How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

How to deal with your life now versus how it should be

Figuring out how to deal with your life now versus how it should be can be hard. Frustrating. Sad. Something has happened to you and your life that wasn’t in the plan. And it means that the life you had planned for yourself – your life how it should be – may no longer be possible.

Maybe what has happened was a challenging health issue has come into your or a loved one’s life. Your life or theirs may be changed forever as a result. Or maybe it’s a relationship betrayal or breakdown, redundancy, bankruptcy, move to a new home/city/country, or even the death of someone close to you. Or your life just hasn’t panned out in the way you had hoped for any number of reasons.

So how do you deal with your life now versus how it should be?

You expected your life to be a certain way. But now all that has changed due to a challenging #health issue. Read what you can do to deal with your life now versus how it should be #wellness #change Click To Tweet

The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that title

Look at the words

‘your life now versus how it should be’

There are two things happening in those words. I’m going to outline what they are and what you can do to reconcile the differences to help you deal with your life now versus how it should be.

The picture shows a woman trying to figure out how to deal with her life now versus how she thinks it should be. She is saying, 'I want to find the clues.' The caption reads: The clue on how to deal with your life now versus how it should be is in that sentence. Written in one box is 'my life now'. In another box, is written 'how it should be'. Should is underlined. Between the two boxes 'versus' is written. This is underlined too. Can you figure out the clues?

First, what is the ‘versus’ like for you?

When at a sporting event or playing a game, we use the word ‘versus’ to indicate two teams playing ‘against’ each other. The versus has connotations of winning and losing. One team will win the other will lose.

We then take that versus and use it on other areas of our lives. A union versus the government. You versus your boss. Boys versus girls.

In relation to how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what is the energy in the versus for you?

Does the ‘versus’ feel like a fight? One that you aren’t winning? Are you in this perpetual state of losing? Or something else?

Second, notice the use of ‘should’

The use of the word ‘should’ is ‘used to show what is right, appropriate, etc.’. And it can be ‘used to say that something that was expected has not happened’.

Sometimes, the use of the word ‘should’ can fuse these two – what was expected to happen was the right thing to happen.

But there can be difficulty when the ‘should’ becomes a rule

When a person holds on tightly to what they consider the right and appropriate thing to do or be, that is when ‘should’ becomes more like a rule. The harder the person holds on to that ‘should’, the more fixed it becomes as a rule.

We often inherent such rules from the primary caregivers in our families of origin. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, even teachers and friends’ parents. When we inherited them, they were useful at that time.

So how do you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it should be?

Read here to learn how to reconcile the differences between your life now versus how it should be #health #change #wellness Click To Tweet

Check if your ‘shoulds’ are outdated strategies

Because sometimes the should you learned in childhood was appropriate for that stage of your life but isn’t now. But you may learned the should more recently from people around you or even social media. Do this by asking yourself:

  • If someone from my past would have said this, who would that be?
  • If I learned this should more recently, from who or where did I learn it?
  • Is it helpful for me and my life to continue operating to this should?

If you’ve identified someone and you’ve realised it’s no longer helpful to carry around this should, then you can give that should back to them (on an energetic level).

Also, whenever you notice yourself using the word ‘should’ to show what is right, appropriate and correct, replace it with the word ‘could’. Notice what that is like for you.

The woman is looking at two boxes one which has 'my life now' written in it and the other 'how it could be'. The word could is underlined. Between them is written the word and and it is underlined. The caption reads: Notice how the use of 'could' rather than 'should' creates possibility and the potential for movement. The woman is saying, 'That feels so much better!'

Check the kind of energy you are putting into the ‘versus’

Is it the kind of energy where you feel like you are fighting to get to your life as it ‘should’ be but you’re not getting anywhere?

What if you were to let go of that fight and just be with how your life is now?

I appreciate that this can be a big ask because some situations are very tough to be in. As a start, just put the fight to one side for a bit and notice what that is like for you. You can return to it if you choose to.

So why did I suggest putting the fight to one side?

Check if you’re in the grip of ‘comparsion-itis’

Comparison is a common strategy people use to deal with their life now versus how it should be.

If you are constantly comparing your life as it is now versus how it should be, you are not happy with your life now and you are happy with the vision and hopes of how your life should be, yeah, that is gonna be hard. It can feel very negative.

Sometimes your life how it should be is your pre-illness/injury life and you are striving to get back to that. Reading this blog will also help.

That kind of constant comparison is energy draining. Your life now will never be good enough. And do you want to live your life like that?

I reckon you are probably shaking your head no.

So change the nature of the comparison you’re making as you deal with your life now versus how it should be

‘Should’ can be used to refer to a possible event or situation, so something in the future.

Your life ‘as it should be’ could be something in the future. It may be possible to achieve, it may not. Or maybe something in the middle of those two is achievable.

If the life you have dreamt for yourself is truly not possible, then mourn that loss

It’s a very real loss. Although our western society doesn’t always embrace or even allow mourning, it is a legitimate and healthy thing to do. And you can mourn without unpacking and living in it forever and ever. When you mourn you are honouring someone or something you valued. That is ok to do. It also helps to put an end to unhealthy comparison.

Reflect on the possibility of creating a life that is somewhere between, even beyond, the life you have now and the life you had hoped for

Depending on what you had hoped for in your life, how can you create it or aspects of it now in the life you do have? It may take a different form. It may take more effort on your part to make happen. It may take a while to make happen. But what are the possibilities? And what actions can you start taking to make them happen? However small those actions may be.

This is about purposefully creating the life you want given everything that you have dealt with and may have to deal with.

These possibilities can be flexible and adaptable goals. I use the words flexible and adaptable to highlight that you may need to be open to changing how you reach the goal, aspects of the goal or even the goal itself. This can help lessen a ‘rule fixed should’ taking hold.

Reading this related blog on finding the new you after a difficult experience like the onset of a challenging health issue or something else, will also help.

If it’s not yet possible to create the life you want, then notice the good in your life now and what makes you smile

A woman is sitting down looking at a continuum above her and smiling. She's in a good place. At one end of the continuum is 'your life now'. Above it reads 'notice the good here'. At the other end of the continuum is 'how your life should be' and the word should is in quotes. Above it is written, mourn what you've lost and valued. Between those two points of the continuum is highlighted the middle and there's the questions: What are the possibilities here? How could you life be? Below near the woman who is sitting down, there's a rubbish bin and in it is 'comparison-itis'. The emphasis here is how you reconcile the differences between your life now and how it 'should' be by looking at all the possibilities between the two.

That may sound really cliched, but it has value because it’s true.

Maybe you are dealing with a lot of uncertainty so until some of that lessens you can’t say what you want your life to be like or you know but don’t have the energy to create it just yet. For example, when you’re in the acute phase of a challenging health issue and having treatment, or in a flare, or even for situations such as divorce, bankruptcy, redundancy, something else.

So take a deep breath.

Let go of the struggle.

Notice the small, even tiny things that make you smile and remind you of the good in the world.

Someone who smiles at you on the street. A funny meme on social media. The bird outside your house. The sun shining. A hug a loved one gives you. A cup of tea someone makes for you or you make for them. A news story about something someone did that was kind.

Just keep noticing those small things day-in and day-out, day after day. That helps you to keep some good in your life which helps to keep a sense of balance. It also makes sure you don’t forget how to notice the good things, which is so important.

Finally, if comparison-it is ever starts to take hold…

Remind yourself that you only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday.

An original inspirational quote by Return to Wellness reads: You only need to compare you and your life to the you and your life of yesterday."

What’s it like for you?

What resonated with you in this blog? In learning how to deal with your life now versus how it should be, what would help you? Or has helped? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to have a growth mindset after illness

How to have a growth mindset after illness

You may feel that learning how to have a growth mindset after an illness or injury sounds like a hippy fad, or a luxury reserved for people who don’t have challenging health issues, or it’s just not a priority as you’re trying to figure out how to live in a changed body, sort out the impact on family dynamics, return to work etc. etc.

Yet, what if I said that learning how to have a growth mindset is a key part of learning how to live well with the impact of a challenging health issue? It is. You didn’t seek to have a challenging health issue, whether you or a loved one has/had it. It’s been an unwelcome intrusion in your life, which can bring up all sorts of unpleasant emotions and feelings. And that is on top of dealing with the health issue itself.

So I want to share some tools to help you learn how to have a growth mindset. To equip you with the knowledge and skills you need on this journey to help you get through it with more ease.

There's a woman standing and holding a map of her rehabilitation plan and the various routes she needs to take to meet her goals. On the map is written open mind, adapting, flexibility, persistence, self-compassion and learning. She is saying, 'I need to revisit what I know and need to learn to help me on my journey.' The caption reads 'developing a growth mindset will help you on your journey'.

But first, a recap of what a growth mindset is and it’s opposite, a fixed mindset

Last week I wrote about what a growth mindset is and why it’s important so here’s a quick recap.

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others. Even in tough situations like dealing with a challenging health issue. They believe that their intelligence and abilities are not fixed.

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s intelligence and abilities are fixed, that is known as a fixed mindset. Some common examples of this are when you hear people say, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Or ‘I cannot possibly learn that!’ Or ‘I couldn’t possibly be creative.’ Or they give up quickly because of the challenges, obstacles and difficult people getting in the way of what they want for themselves.

However, we all experienced growth and fixed mindsets. It can depend on the situation, the people we are with, how we are feeling and more. They are not static. Which is good. Because it means you can learn and change if you choose to.

This is a pic detailing the characteristics of growth and fixed mindsets. A growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result they achieve more and it gives people a sense of greater free will. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. It leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. A fixed mindset confirms a deterministic view of the world. This demonstrates why believing your intelligence is not fixed and you can learn is so important in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.
Concept of Growth & Fixed Mindsets by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. Image by Nigel Holmes.

Let’s move on to learning how to have a growth mindset

First, you can do a mindset assessment here to learn about your current mindset. You do have to give them your name and email to get the results.

My results said I had a good foundation but may feel uncomfortable with criticism even if it’s well intended and I can be hard on myself when I make mistakes. Yep! I am a work-in-progress!

Your results can give you a good starting point on where to look when you’re in fixed mindset mode. With that increased self-awareness, you then have more choices. So on to the next stage.

The 7 signs that you are in fixed mindset mode

I’ve come up with seven signs, but there could be more. The signs could be different for each of us. What I share are common ones I’ve seen in my work with clients and even myself.

For each sign that you may be in a fixed mindset mode, I offer what you can do instead.

A fixed mindset won’t help you live well with the impact of a challenging #health issue. Read about the seven signs you are in fixed mindset mode and what you can do instead #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You know you are in a fixed mindset when you

Have a case of ‘comparisonitis’

You compare yourself to others, you look at what they have and you don’t and feel envious and bad as a result. Your mood takes a nosedive.

It is so hard to look at what other people have which you value and wish you had too.

I could write a lot on this and will some day.

How to have a growth mindset when dealing with ‘comparisonitis’

Keep in mind that everyone is on a different journey. Their journey is not your journey.

Focus on your journey. Where you are now, where you want to get to and what you need to do, think, feel and be to get to your desired destination.

Also, only compare yourself to the you of yesterday and your goals. Adjust your goals to keep them realistic and achievable too if that is needed.

There are two versions of the same woman standing. One is the woman of yesterday. One is the woman of today. The woman of yesterday is saying, 'I didn't do so great on my physiotherapy today.' The woman of today is saying, 'Today's physio went well. And we need to adjust our goals.' The caption reads: Manage 'comparison-itis' by only comparing you to the you of yesterday. That is key in learning how to have a growth mindset after illness or injury.

You are working so very hard to your pre-illness/injury standards and not getting anywhere

The level of frustration you are feeling is through the roof! Sometimes this persistence can actually help your rehabilitation. But if you feel like you are fighting and not getting anywhere, that is the sign you need to do something different.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your personal standards

You need to reset your personal standards so they are realistic to what you can do now and work to those. They may get you to your pre-illness or injury standards. But they may not and being open to that will make the journey much less stressful. You can read more about that here.

You’re aiming for perfection

This relates to the point above. It often comes out when a client says, ‘I have high standards.’ High standards are not bad, but you need to have a flexible approach towards them. You need to adjust them. Particularly as your body has changed and it is working double time. Your body may not have the energy levels to cope.

How to have a growth mindset regarding perfectionist tendencies

If you reread the results of my mindset assessment above, my ‘watch out for’ areas on how I respond to certain kinds of feedback and making mistakes point to my perfectionist tendencies. Yes, I have them and they are a great sign to me when I need to demonstrate flexibility and do something different. When I do that, that’s when I shift from a fixed to a growth mindset.

Reminding myself the following helps.

  • Me giving 75% effort towards something is most likely someone else’s 110% helps.
  • The world will most certainly not end if things aren’t perfect.
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities.

You’re trying not to ‘give in’ to the illness/injury

But you feel tired, you feel like your illness or injury is ‘winning’. I hear this language being used a lot, particularly in the context of acceptance of an illness or injury. It is indicative of a fight, but one that is very negative.

A typical sign of this fight is not resting when your body is screaming for it. Because resting would be ‘giving in’. And you can’t do that because the illness or injury would be in control.

But this kind of fight doesn’t help you. It’s also not you taking control. Your energy is so focused on fighting, it’s not freed up to look after yourself. Resting would be you recognising what you need and taking control. That’s the paradox.

How to have a growth mindset regarding ‘giving in’ to your illness/injury

If you notice yourself ‘fighting’ your illness or injury in this way, have a go at doing the opposite of what you’re doing. Chances are it is what you need to be doing.

Are you trying not to ‘give in’ to your #seriousillness #seriousinjury? If yes and you are feeling like you aren’t getting anywhere, then read this blog. It will help you to help yourself. #growthmindset Click To Tweet

You don’t ask for help

This is so common when people are dealing with the impact of an illness or injury. I have written a lot about it and recommend a read.

How to have a growth mindset regarding help

What you can do is practice asking for help. Try it with small things first to notice your internal response to asking for help. People have often said to me their worst fears don’t come to pass.

Also make sure to ask people who are willing and capable of helping you.

Your inner critic gets in the driving seat when you struggle or make a mistake

This can be a sign of a perfectionist tendency. Remember, you are the CEO of you so you can take charge of the inner critic.

How to have a growth mindset regarding your ‘inner critic’

You do that by taking a large dose of self-compassion and asking yourself the following questions:

  • What did I struggle with in particular?
  • And what does that tell me about me, my skills, my knowledge?
  • What am I learning from that? Is there a skill I need to learn? New knowledge to seek out?
  • What part of this did I actually do ok even well?

Asking yourself these questions turns the mistake into a learning opportunity. It works really well.

A woman is holding a very large glass of a large dose of self-compassion and learning. Behind her on a table stand two bottles and one has self-compassion written on it and the other has my learning written on it. The woman is saying, 'This is a large dose. I hope it tastes ok.'' Near the glass it says ' a large does of self-compassion and learning is tasty'. The caption reads 'doses of self-compassion and learning help you to have a growth mindset'.

You’re trying to convince others you’re ok when you’re not

We could do this for all sorts of reasons and it’s a complex one. So today I’m only going to focus on it from one angle.

You may fear about ‘burdening’ the other person. And this could be an assumption on your part. That will depend on the person you are trying to convince and your relationship with them.

Or we may not want to deal with the kind of response we know we may get from that person. Understandable.

Be discerning on who you try the following out with. If it’s the type of person who doesn’t do well with other people’s difficulties, don’t try it with them. If it’s someone who is empathetic, chances are it is safe to be honest with them.

How to have a growth mindset regarding being authentic regarding the issues you have with your illness or injury

If the person is close to you and it’s a good relationship, have a go at saying how you really feel. You don’t have to say everything. Just a little bit. They may respond in a way which shatters your assumption about burdening them. Their response may be just what you need.

Learning how to have a growth mindset requires these three qualities

What I have suggested you do differently for each sign above requires you to open your mind to new possibilities, flexibility and adaptability. They help you to learn how to have a growth mindset and will enable you to go far.

A woman is standing and holding 'open mind'. In front of her is a table and on it are 'flexibility', 'adaptability' and a growth mindset bag. The woman is saying, 'I have to pack my growth mindset bag for my journey.' She is going to put open mind, flexibility and adaptability in her bag. The caption reads: An open mind, adaptability and flexibility help you learn how to have a growth mindset.

What’s it like for you?

In which situations do you notice you’re in a fixed mindset? What have you done in those situations to switch to a growth mindset? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

Why a growth mindset is important after illness

Why a growth mindset is important after illness

Having a growth mindset is important after illness or injury. I feel it is key to crafting a life worth living when you are dealing with a challenging health issue whether your own or a loved one’s. It’s a way of believing, thinking, doing, and feeling and is based on the work done by Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. So it has an evidence base.

The idea for this blog came from the video I shared last week in which they refer to a growth mindset in relation to grief. And I thought this concept that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury deserves more attention.

Because it can be tough living with unwelcomed changes. To the point we forget to notice the good stuff which happens in our life. It feels like happiness, confidence and joy have well and truly left the building. It feels like life is so hard now and if your body has changed a lot, it feels like you have no control to effect change anymore.

So in this blog I share what a growth mindset is, why it’s important particularly in the case of dealing with challenging health issues, and the one thing you can do to set a strong foundation for developing a growth mindset. I also signpost to additional resources.

There's a picture of a woman seated in front of a window. She is crying. It's sunny outside. There's a person called sadness seated at her feet. Behind her three people representing confidence, happiness and joy are leaving the house. Joy is saying, 'Sadness has moved in and is taking up our space so we had best leave.' Happiness responds, 'Ok.' The caption reads: When you don't practice a growth mindset, happiness, confidence and joy are more likely to leave the building.

What is a growth mindset?

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others.

You may have to put in a lot of effort, and sometimes that can be really hard. There can be obstacles and challenges, but you persevere, look for strategies to help, and get help when you need it. You feel good with the results and you look forward to learning more.

A person has a growth mindset when they believe they can learn and change things for themselves through effort, strategies and help from others. Important when you are living with a #seriouillness #seriousinjury… Click To Tweet

The opposite is a fixed mindset

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s ability is fixed, then that is known as a fixed mindset.

For example, you believe that intelligence is fixed and you can’t or don’t want to change it. You here this in the saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’ Or when someone says, ‘I cannot possibly learn that!’ or ‘I’m not creative.’

Challenge, obstacles and difficult people get in the way of getting what you want for yourself. You give up. There’s no point. You cannot effect change. And you generally don’t feel happy, able, satisfied, etc.

When a person believes they cannot learn or change things or that one’s ability is fixed, then that is known as a fixed mindset. This can get in the way of you living well with the impact of a challenging #health issue… Click To Tweet

Here’s an example of growth and fixed mindsets

Fixed MindsetGrowth Mindset
Mindset – Your belief about somethingYou believe that your body has changed so much it’s beyond repair.You believe that some gains in your rehabilitation can be made.
What you think and say to yourself as a result of your belief“What is the point of doing physiotherapy? Nothing is changing. And I’m never going to be able to things like I used to!”“I want to learn what I can be doing to help myself.”
What you do as a result, i.e. how that belief manifests itself in your behaviour You don’t do physiotherapy and choose to watch tv instead. You find a physiotherapist who specialises in treating your condition. You have a family member help you from time to time with your physio.
The outcome of the aboveDue to reduced movement, your function has deteriorated. You now have to use a wheelchair full time. You have to rely on others a lot to get out and about. Doing your physiotherapy exercises improves your balance and mobility. You can now use a stick when walking outside whereas previously you had to use the wheelchair.
How you feel about the outcome You feel frustrated you cannot move as freely as you used to. But this is life. You are pleased you can use mainly just the stick to get out and about.

This is a simplified example. With some conditions, gains in rehabilitation won’t be large, they can be minimal over time. Efforts at rehabilitation may largely prevent you from getting worse rather than improving your functionality. Also, having to use a wheelchair full time is no bad thing at all. A wheelchair can be someone’s legs enabling them to get out and about in the world.

What I am highlighting is the mindset you start out with, the end result, and how you feel about the end result. So even if you can’t change your physical functioning due to the health issue, the growth mindset applies to how you feel about it and deal with it.

This is a pic detailing the characteristics of growth and fixed mindsets. A growth mindset believes that intelligence can be developed. It leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result they achieve more and it gives people a sense of greater free will. A fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. It leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result, they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. A fixed mindset confirms a deterministic view of the world. This demonstrates why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.
Concept of Growth & Fixed Mindsets by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. Image by Nigel Holmes.

We all have a mixture of growth and fixed mindsets

In some situations, or with certain people we may have a growth mindset. In other situations, or with other people, it may be more fixed. We will experience both at different times. And they change as we change and experience new things. Growth and fixed mind states are not static.

Why a growth mindset is important

A growth mindset means

  • we are more flexible in our outlook, we can see the negatives and the positives,
  • we view the effort and struggle required to learn and do something new as part of the process rather than something that is negative and must be avoided,
  • we can learn from mistakes, failures and challenges rather than wallowing in them and giving up,
  • we are more willing to ask for and accept help from others, and
  • we see or can create the opportunities for ourselves.

In short, we believe we can learn. Even if there are challenges, obstacles and unhelpful people on our path. We find a way over, above, under or around them. And we learn from these experiences. As well as learning from experiences when things have gone well and came more easily to us.

Why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury

A growth mindset can help you to more quickly find ways to manage your health issue, live well enough with it, and also to thrive and flourish. It enables you to take control.

A #growthmindset can help you to more quickly find ways to manage your #health issue, live well enough with it, and also to thrive and flourish. It enables you to #takecontrol Click To Tweet

How quickly this happens for you is impossible to say. It depends on how developed your growth mindset is, when it is in operation or when a fixed mindset takes control.

Due to the inherent belief of a fixed mindset that making change is not possible, it can be harder for you to live well after experiencing a serious illness or injury. Ultimately, it can make it harder for happiness, confidence and joy to walk back into the building.

There's a picture of a woman seated. She is crying whilst thinking, 'I don't think change is possible. This is it.' There's a person called sadness seated at her feet. Sadness is crying and saying, 'I can keep you company.' Behind her three people representing confidence, happiness and joy are looking at her through a window. They are outside. Joy is saying, 'I'm not sure she is ready for us. She is still so very sad.' Confidence is saying in response to Joy, 'Not yet. I'm confident she'll eventually be ready for us.' The caption reads: A fixed mindset can make it harder to live well with the impact of illness or injury. This demonstrates that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.

It is understandable how a fixed mindset can come about

You can become conditioned over time to focus on the difficulties and negative aspects of your health issue because you deal with it daily. For example, you know how difficult it can be to deal with a really tough treatment like chemotherapy and all its side effects. Or a lot of uncertainty about how your symptoms like chronic pain or fatigue will be from day-to-day and therefore what you can do. Or fear of relapse. Learning how to live in a changed body that doesn’t do what you used to do and still want to do.

After a time, the difficulties, fears and negative aspects become all you know. You can forget to focus on positive experiences and good things that happen. You may feel stuck in the pit of negativity and not see a way out. With some clients, a large part of our work is developing that way out.

The work involves making a conscious effort to focus on good stuff that happens and nice experiences, however small they are (tiny is fine). Doing this reminds you of your ability to notice the good and positive things in your life and strengthen it. This helps to restore a sense of balance to your experiences and therefore how you feel. I think of it as setting the foundation for developing a growth mindset.

You can see why developing a growth mindset is important after illness. It ensures you don’t end up living in the pit of negativity.

The woman is no longer sitting and crying. She is standing up with the support of sticks. She is saying to her friend who is smiling, 'Thank you for everything! I feel that change is possible now.'' Behind her three people representing Confidence, Happiness and Joy are entering the house. Confidence is saying, 'I knew she would be ready for us again.' Happiness is saying, 'I'm so happy we're back!' The caption reads: A growth mindset makes change possible. This demonstrates that a growth mindset is important after illness or injury.

So yes, it is possible to develop a growth mindset

Even if the situation which has caused all the changes to you and your life was unwelcome and traumatic like a life-changing health issue often is, it is possible with time to develop a growth mindset from it. This isn’t to say you have to be 100% positive and happy all of the time because that is just unrealistic. Nor is it to say you should not or won’t experience difficult emotions. You may and you acknowledge them as I wrote about last week. And you also learn from them.

How you develop it is a blog I’ll write for another day. But now you know why a growth mindset is important after illness or injury, here are some good resources to learn more about the topic.

What’s it like for you?

In which areas of your life do you feel you have a growth mindset and in which areas a fixed mindset? What has contributed to that? What resources would you like to help you develop a growth mindset? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, 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 2019

What is grief in the context of your illness and life?

What is grief in the context of your illness and life?

What is grief in the context of your illness or injury? Should you be grieving for what you’ve lost as a result of it?

Well that depends. Every person is different. Every person will have different beliefs about grief. And everyone grieves differently. So you will all have different responses to experiencing a life-changing illness or injury, whether you or a loved one has.

A member of the Return To Wellness® community asked me those questions. They are good questions. Hard questions for which there are no easy answers as you might have already guessed. I’m going to have a go at responding to them. But I want to go back to basics first.

What is #grief in the context of your #illness or #injury? Should you be grieving for what you have lost? Read more here Click To Tweet

What is grief?

Dictionary.com defines grief as

  • keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret
  • a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow

We typically associate grief and grieving with the death of someone we know. When you lose someone whom you may have been close to, you miss them, you feel that loss of them in your life, you feel sadness and maybe even pain. Numbness and anger can also be present. But you can feel these feelings in relation to other difficult situations in life.

What is grief in the context of your illness or injury?

Grief in the context of your illness or injury is similar to the death of a loved one. The similarity is in the loss. When you or a loved one has experienced a life-changing illness or injury, there can be losses. The person you or your loved one once were. Your (or their) abilities to do certain things perhaps. A loss of perceived health. There can be any number of losses.

You might really value what you have lost. And feel sad and angry about the losses and all the change that has meant for you. The sadness and/or anger may feel incredibly intense at times. It may feel really painful. And at other times, the intensity lowers a bit. Regardless of its intensity, that sadness and pain you feel is grief.

Grief in the context of your illness or injury can take many forms. This picture shows five woman each showing a different face of grief: numbness, pain, sadness, anger and tiredness.

Should you be grieving for what you’ve lost as a result?

I think grief and grieving can scare people. It is often associated with crying, tears, and being sad. And it feels as that is taboo in our society to do. If we look sad or get emotional, people rush to say and do things to help us feel better. They tell us, ‘Oh no, dear, don’t cry! It’ll get better.’ They make us a cup of tea. Etc. etc. British culture compounds this as we’ve got the sayings, ‘Be strong, carry on’ and ‘Stiff upper lip.’

It’s also almost as if we are not allowed to experience the emotions and feelings associated with losing something. We aren’t allowed to grieve.

Or we feel it’s only reserved for when someone has died. And given you or your loved one have not died from the illness or injury, you may feel you don’t have a right to grieve. Because you’re alive, right? You should just feel thankful and grateful.

Sadness can exist alongside feeling thankful and grateful

On the other hand, I often hear people who have experienced a life-changing illness or injury encouraging others who have more recently joined the club (so to speak) to grieve for what they have lost. They go on to explain that it helps to mourn as if the experience of the illness or injury was a death.

And it is. A life-changing illness or injury changes things. You have your life before. Then your life afterwards. Your life before has ended. A death is an ending. And endings can be hard. So alongside feeling thankful and grateful that you or your loved one are alive, you can also feel intense sadness and/or pain.

A life-changing #illness or #injury changes things. You have your life before. Then your life afterwards. Your life before has ended. A new life lies ahead of you. Read about this transition here Click To Tweet

So what does grief in the context of your illness or injury look like?

How do you grieve?

There is no ‘right way’ of grieving. A client once said to me that their illness was like a death of sorts. They talked about it a lot but did not cry. Other people will be in floods of tears and not able to speak. Others may do something in between.

Some people might take themselves off somewhere to engage in activity when they feel grief coming to visit. This activity might be woodworking, running, walking, rolling, cooking, baking, drawing, painting, writing, knitting, sewing, reading, swimming, it could be anything.

Other people will want to find someone else or a group to talk about it with. To be with people like them who get it.

This picture is about what can help you cope with grief in the context of your illness or injury. A girl is sitting on a pouff looking at what can help her cope with the grief she feels. They are talking to someone you trust and who won't judge you. Answering the question, What has enabled me to get this far? Attend a support group. Write down how you feel. Own your feelings of grief, 'I feel...'. Express your feelings through an activity like sport, drawing, cooking, painting, knitting, singing, gardening, etc. Cry or shout if you need to. Notice small things which make you smile. Start a project you've been meaning to.

The most important thing to do with grief in the context of your illness or injury

The phrase that is coming to me is honouring your grief. I am not saying to unpack and live there forever and ever. Just to acknowledge it and give it some attention. It is there because you feel sadness, emotional pain, possibly anger, regret, numbness and any multitude of feelings and emotions.

You acknowledge it by simply saying, ‘I lost XYZ due to this illness/injury. I miss that. I feel ABC about it.’ And let yourself feel whatever it is you feel.

It’s important to acknowledge all that. Because it is part of your experience. And your experience is valid.

It’s important to acknowledge all that. Because it is part of your experience. And your experience is valid. I appreciate this is difficult. It is not a walk or roll in the park.

When you get in touch with these emotions and feelings, you are saying to yourself that your experience matters, that it is valid. And hence you are valid. From a psychological perspective, this self-validation is incredibly important and healthy to do.

Then let your grief be a catalyst for something new

This video explains a lovely concept about growing around your grief. Although this video is in the context of how childhood grief can spur success, this concept of growing around your grief equally applies to experiencing a challenging health issue.

They talk about growing around your grief so you are not suffocated by it, making sense of what has happened to you, and having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is about proactively finding ways to grow in the way you wish from the experience.

This doesn’t mean that you have to live your illness or injury and assume it as your identity. It is about getting on with your life in the way that is meaningful for you.

This is a picture of an original quote by Return to Wellness which says: "What if you were to let your grief due to a challenging health issue be a catalyst for something new in your life which you value?" This requires you to know about grief in the context of your illness or injury.

What’s it like for you?

What has grief in the context of your illness or injury been like? What has or would help you get on with your life in a way that is meaningful for you? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

The best advice on how to stop carrying other people’s shit

The best advice on how to stop carrying other people’s shit

Are you aware of when you’re carrying other people’s shit? And do you know how to let it go?

These are important questions. Because when you or a loved one are living with a challenging health issue, the last thing you need is carrying other people’s shit around. That takes energy. You end up having less energy to do good things for yourself.

So I am going to share the signs that you might be carrying other people’s shit.

And the one question you can ask yourself to help you stop carrying other people’s shit.

Apologies in advance for using the word ‘shit’. I am using it because sometimes fruity language helps to get a point across. An alternative word is ‘stuff’. In quotations.

A woman is carrying other people's shit and her own shit. She is saying, 'All this shit smells and I have no room to carry anything good for me.' This is the impact when you carry other people's unhelpful stuff.

Here are some of the signs that you might be carrying other people’s shit

You react on automatic pilot to events or what people say. And try to control a lot as a consequence. But this isn’t getting you anywhere.

You feel like you question yourself, your ideas and motives a bit too much.

You over analyse and over think things a lot.

You hear yourself say a lot:

S/he made me feel…

If only they would…

Why can’t they…

They had better do…

S/he never does…

You feel stressed a lot of the time.

You do what other people think you should do. And feel crestfallen when you do that. You feel like you’re doing stuff to please other people a lot of the time.

You’re feeling like you are not getting to do what you want to do.

You’re just not taking action to move forward in your life yet you want to.

If you have ongoing symptoms due to your health issue, they feel worse when you’re feeling stressed. Which is a lot of the time.

You don’t listen to what your gut (or instinct or heart) are telling you very much.

Click here to read the signs that you might be carrying other people’s shit #mentalhealth #health #wellness Click To Tweet

It’s tiring to carry other people’s shit like that

Not only is it tiring. For all you know, you have one life. Why live it like that? You’re plenty busy already living with your or your loved one’s challenging health issue.

The one question which will help you to stop carrying other people’s shit

When you feel yourself over thinking something, questioning yourself too much, not taking action, or doing one of other the things mentioned above, ask yourself this simple question:

Is this my shit or someone else’s shit?

It might be yours. But often times, it can be someone else’s.

Do you want to know the one question which will help you to stop carrying other people’s shit? Click here #mentalhealth #health #wellness Click To Tweet

How do you know if it’s someone else’s shit?

When you ask yourself that question, pause and notice what comes up. It can be memories, unpleasant or otherwise, from when you were young. It may be your parents saying or doing something to you or others.

We learn to carry other people’s shit from a young age. You tend to pick up messages from the key people in your life about what you should or should not do. These are usually from authority figures like parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, friend’s parents, bosses at work, etc. But can also be from friends, colleagues, people you have experienced bullying from, spouse/partner and kids.

You can also ask yourself the question:

If someone else in my life said the kind of stuff I’m telling myself now, who would that be?

Picture of an original quote by Return to Wellness: "If you think you are carrying other people's shit (or unhelpful stuff), ask yourself this question - If someone else in my life said the kind of stuff I'm telling myself now, who would that be?"

I have found clients can pretty quickly identify who in their life they have learned these messages from.

Once you have that awareness, you know it’s not your shit.

As you do this more and more, you learn how to spot more quickly whether you are carrying other people’s shit or your own.

So how do you actually stop carrying other people’s shit?

You have to make a conscious choice to let their shit go.

One way to do that is to start listening to yourself much more closely a lot more of the time. To increase your self-awareness. And to notice not only your thoughts, but also what your body is telling you.

I often request clients to sense into their gut feeling (or intuition or heart) to feel what is right for them.

They often know what is good and right for themselves. I bet you do too.

A woman is saying, 'I can't keep carrying other people's shit. I have plenty of my own to carry.' She is still holding her own shit but is throwing other people's shit into a toilet.

The bonus of not carrying other people’s shit is…

There are several actually.

When you stop carrying other people’s shit, the stress you feel reduces. You feel calmer.

If you live with ongoing symptoms due to your health issue, you may find they lessen. I’ve seen this with clients who have reported feeling less pain and then worked with their doctor to reduce their pain medication. That’s big stuff.

Your energy is freed up. You have more capacity to carry your own energy and using that to do good and healthy things for you.

And you’ve got your own shit to carry. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’ll tell you why.

Your shit is your worst habits, the not-so-good bits about your personality and behaviours. It’s your shadow side. We all have one. You’re not alone.

But when you become aware of your shit, and how it impacts you and others, then you have more choices. You can choose to do something different and there is a good kind of energy to that. Your shit paradoxically ends up becoming fertiliser for doing what you want in your life.

A woman is standing holding a ball which has 'my new energy' written on it and in her other arm she is holding what looks like fertilizer and it has flowers growing out of it. She is saying, 'I have room for my energy now. And my shit is more like fertiliser.' The point of this picture is that when you stop carrying other people's shit, you have room to carry new energy you can use for you. And when you become aware of your own unhelpful stuff, i.e. your shit, you have more choice to do something different.

What’s it like for you?

When do you know you are carrying other people’s shit? What are the signs? What has been the impact for you of not carrying other people’s shit? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

Why is accepting help good for you?

Why is accepting help good for you?

You may be of the opinion that accepting help is not a good thing to do. Because you may feel guilty for feeling like a burden to someone. Or you feel bad or even ashamed because you now need help. Maybe you’re afraid of being seen as needy. Or worried that people will say no and you’ll look stupid in some way.

It’s understandable to feel this way. There are so many reasons why accepting help is seen as a no-no, or a last-ditch effort. But some of these reasons are culturally ingrained and actually don’t help us to help ourselves.

If you’ve read my blogs before on this topic, most recently on losing your independence due to illness or injury, and regaining it, you’ll have seen I’ve been writing about this topic from different angles over the past few years.

In this blog, I want to make the case for why accepting help is good for you. If anything, to get you thinking, and maybe challenge your assumptions around accepting help. So that the next time you are in a position to accept help (or not), you can make a really informed decision for yourself.

When underlying assumptions about accepting help are not true, they can disrupt the healthy balance in giving and accepting help. In this picture a person is saying to someone, "I can help. Let me know.' The other person responds, 'No, I'm fine.' But inwardly is thinking, "If I accept help, that means I am weak and needy. Plus I would feel like a burden and guilty.' Those are assumptions often ingrained by the society we live in.

But first, let me share an example of accepting help

A recent example is Eliud Kipchoge who was the first person to run a marathon in under two hours on 12th October 2019. He didn’t do the effort alone. It was a meticulously planned event which took several years of preparation. It involved a sponsor, his coach, his training team, the city of Vienna, the 41 pacemakers and a whole lot more people I am sure.

Eliud had to enlist their help and support. And if you watched the race, you would have seen how happy they were to be doing that. The pacemakers consistently said, ‘I am very happy to be doing this. It’s an honour.’

They relished in giving their help. Eliud received it all and used it to do what he does best, run a marathon in the time he was aiming for. They received the satisfaction of knowing they helped a fellow runner and the glory of being part of this historic challenge and helping to make it happen.

You see the mutual exchange that is happening?

Eliud asked for help. He received it. Those who helped got something in return. This is a healthy form of giving and receiving.

There is also an added bonus in what he has done for others which was best put by his coach Patrick Sang: “He has inspired all of us that we can stretch our limits in our lives.” I’m sure we’ll soon be seeing more people running marathons in under two hours.

I feel @EliudKipchoge recent efforts to run a marathon in under 2 hours is a beautiful example of a healthy rhythm of giving and receiving #help to make great things happen. #NoHumanIsLimited #INEOS159 Read what I mean here Click To Tweet

Accepting help creates an interdependence

I think this is why some people fear asking for and accepting help. They fear feeling dependent on the other person. They may even feel beholden to them, i.e. they now ‘owe’ the other person.

But there is value to interdependence

Interdependence creates connection. With others. And you know what? We humans thrive on that. Serious illness or injury and chronic illness can be very isolating. When we refuse genuine offers of support or help, which would really help us, we can inadvertently isolate ourselves further. So we don’t give ourselves the chance to stretch our limits.

The connection of interdependence shows that we matter

Esther Perel put it beautifully in her email newsletter of 5th August 2019:

“For when we know that we matter to others, it gives us a significance.”

Esther Perel

When someone is genuinely willing to help us, we know we matter. When we are genuinely willing to accept their help, they know they matter.

Knowing that we matter to someone else is a very validating experience. We feel affirmed. We’ve been acknowledged. Witnessed. This is the stuff that feeds our self-esteem.

There is so much value in the connection created by inter-dependence.

For this to happen, both parties have to want to give and receive

The giving and receiving is mutual. There’s also a rhythm to giving and receiving.

When I ask for help, the other person says yes to giving help. (Provided we ask the right person to help us, i.e. they are willing to help us and capable of helping us.)

I say yes to accepting help.

The person helps me do what I need/want to do, be or achieve.

The person giving receives satisfaction in helping me. They know they did a good thing. They feel good.

In the picture are two women. One is asking, 'Can you help me?' The other woman is saying, 'Yes, I can help you.' Between them is a figure eight on its side, like an infinity sign. In this picture that is a sign for the healthy flow of giving and accepting help. It shows the woman who asked for help accepts the help given. For the woman who is willing to help, it shows the satisfaction she receives in helping. When the giving and receiving of help is mutual, there's a healthy rhythm to the giving and receiving.

But by only being willing to give and not accept help, we disrupt that rhythm

By only being willing to give and not accept #help, we disrupt the rhythm inherent in giving and receiving help. Read more about that here #seriousillness #seriousinjury Click To Tweet

We’ve got a lot of people wanting to give, but not people willing to receive.

Accepting help is difficult for many people for the reasons I initially stated. Sometimes those reasons are valid. Other times, they aren’t. When they aren’t, this is often due to society’s assumptions around receiving help, i.e. being seen as too ‘needy’ or not capable, or needing help is a sign of weakness.

This ends up disrupting the rhythm of giving and accepting help in an unhealthy way. We’ve ended up with this imbalance in society where it’s ok to give, but not ok to receive.

The picture says society's assumption is it's ok to give help but not to receive help. There is a person saying, 'I can help. Let me know.' The other person responds, 'No, I'm fine.' Between the two people there are two circles with a jagged slash between them to demonstrate the rupture to the rhythm of giving and accepting help.

You often see the saying ‘giving is receiving’

It works the opposite way too. Receiving is giving.

Coming back to the example of Eliud Kipchoge above, by giving and accepting help, you enable good things to happen. You stretch the limits of what is possible for yourself and others.

So keep that healthy rhythm of giving and accepting help going.

This is a picture of an original quote by Return to Wellness: "We often say that giving is receiving. It also works the other way. Receiving is giving too. By accepting help you stretch the limits of what is possible for yourself and others."

What’s it like for you?

What do you think about accepting help? A good thing or not? What’s your thoughts on the rhythm of giving and accepting help? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Know of someone who would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

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