How to love your body with illness or injury

How to love your body with illness or injury

How do you love your body with illness or injury? How do you learn to love it again? So much about your body has changed, this can feel like a really hard task. You may have loved what your body enabled you to do previously and/or how you looked.

I feel it’s important to learn how to love your body with illness or injury again. It’s the only body you have. And you have it for the rest of your life. I’m not saying this will be a quick and easy journey for you. We are all different. But who knows, maybe it will be.

Where #bodyimage, #illness or #injury and society’s expectations and stigmas collide can be a potentially destructive place. Read about that here and what you can do to ensure it isn’t. Tell a Friend

Three things made me think of this recently. My own journey back to regular exercise. Through that I was hearing how people speak about their bodies and I felt sad with what I was hearing. And an article I read about weight loss and chronic illness.

Before I go any further, I want to say that this is a really big topic and I am only addressing it from one small angle on this occasion. I may come back to this topic from another angle in the future.

Learning to love your body with illness or injury is determined by body image (before and after the illness or injury), the impact of the illness or injury, and society's expectations and stigmas. It can be a potentially destructive mix. The picture shoes these three concepts as a Venn diagram.

How to love your body with illness or injury

That journey to fall back in love with ourselves and our bodies after a serious illness or injury or alongside a chronic illness has so many parts to it and can take time.

For a time we may be angry with our bodies for betraying us. I see this a lot in cases of cancer and auto-immune conditions where people were leading healthy lives before the illness arrived. Or we are mourning the loss of a part of our bodies due to cancer or injury for example.

We learn to adapt so we can return to favourite or new activities, return to work, and re-engage with our life. But having to adapt may bring its own frustrations as we are reminded of what we can no longer do as easily as we once did.

Having to adapt how we use our bodies so we can re-engage with our lives may bring its own frustrations. We are reminded of what we can no longer do as easily as we once did. #seriousillness #seriousinjury #bodyimage Tell a Friend

Eventually, we hopefully find a way to live in our changed bodies peacefully with a recognition of and appreciation for what it can do. Of course, we may experience setbacks if we experience a flare-up and become ill or injured again. But sometimes these setbacks are due to what people say and do to us. And it can be very hurtful on the being on the receiving end of that.

So what can you do?

There are two things you can do help yourself on your journey to love your changed body with illness or injury

And a lot of what I say here is equally applicable to people who do not have any major health issues. To men as well as women.

Listen to how you speak about your body

Do you say anything like the following?

Oh, my thunder thighs! I hate how they look!

Geez, I suffer from kankle syndrome!

My boobs are too small/big/droopy.

I’ve got man boobs. I’m not man enough.

Why can’t I be slim like her?

I hate how my chin isn’t well defined.

I hate how this bit of my body no longer works.

Oh, this grey hair! I can’t look old!

It’s very common to hear the above. Lots of people say these kind of things. It’s so normal. But should it be?

Listen to the language you use about yourself. Sometimes we can be really hard on ourselves. In what feels to be not a particularly helpful way.

We speak badly about a part of our body -->
We know that part of our body is with us forever -->
We feel worse because we have to deal with it.

I wonder, how does talking this way about yourself help you?

It can be a vicious cycle that repeats. Do you really need to be doing that to yourself?

The picture shows a woman looking into a mirror thinking, "Useless weak left leg." It then shows her saying, "Every day I have to deal with this useless weak left leg." And then it shows her thinking, "This sucks. I'll never have long and lean leg." The woman is in a vicious cycle of body image, the impact of her illness (or injury) and trying to meet society's expectations of having long and lean legs. This makes it hard to love your body with illness.

I have even heard this from staff in clothing shops and stylists, ‘You want to cover up/disguise/distract from this bit of yourself.’ And they talk about our ‘bad bits’.

Can we just love ourselves and our bodies as is?

How about substituting the ‘I don’t like’ with ‘I am grateful’?

You know that gap in your thighs we women are ‘supposed’ to have? I’ll never have that. I’ve got big thighs. My shoulders are sloping. I’ve got big boobs too. Slim ankles? Nope. Don’t have that either. I have chronic pain and a loss of sensory awareness in my hands so it makes it harder to do finer things like doing up my bra and putting in earrings. Otherwise, my hands work ok.

And you know what. I’m ok with all that. It’s my body. I can walk. Not great sometimes due to arthritis and poor walking habits due to old knees injuries (which I’m working on changing through physiotherapy). I can exercise. I can kayak. I can cook. My ankles, knees, thighs, hands and shoulders all enable me to do that. I enjoy those activities. I am grateful.

That is the key point around listening to how we speak about our bodies. Changing that ‘I don’t like’ or even hate relationship with parts of your bodies to one of gratefulness for what those parts of your body enable you to do.

The ‘I don’t like’ or even hate relationships with parts of our body often originate in society’s standards for health and beauty. So on to my next point.

The ‘I don’t like’ or even hate relationships with parts of our body often originate in society’s standards for #health and beauty. #bodyimage #seriousillness #seriousinjury Tell a Friend

Be mindful of how society’s standards of health and beauty for men and women do not help

Society standards are not very forgiving. Companies constantly push an ideal body shape for men and women, beauty standards and products at us to encourage us conform to these standards. Bu the standards can be difficult or even impossible for some of us to obtain. And the time it takes out of our schedules to meet those standards!

For example, a couple of years ago Avon had this campaign about ‘getting rid of your morning face’ by using their make-up of course. In a sense, we were being told our morning face is tired looking, that that isn’t good and we should not be looking like that, but hey, Avon can fix that with their products.

Barbara Babcock with no make-up. Learn to love your body with illness or injury.

I felt sad when I saw that commercial. I love seeing my face in the morning! I don’t care how tired I look. I smile at myself in the mirror because I think that is a great way to start my day. So I tweeted my lovely morning face with no make-up to Avon.

It can also be difficult to maintain these standards too. It may not be cheap money-wise. We also age. Our skin will change, our boobs may sag, our tummies may not be as tight, our hair goes grey, and more. That’s a normal process and we all go through it. But Western society has taught us that it’s not natural and we should fight it every step of the way. At what point in our lives can we just be at peace with our bodies?

A serious illness or injury can make it even more difficult to live with society’s standards

This article about how body and weight shaming negatively impacts women living with chronic illness poignantly demonstrates this.

Weight loss can be glorified at a time when it should be raising alarm bells. But society’s standards are even dictating how medical and healthcare professionals approach weight loss and treat people who may weigh more than is desired for their body shape/age. From reading this article, you get the sense the medical and healthcare professionals weren’t making the connection between weight gain or loss with the health issue.

Your energy may not be well spent on conforming to society’s standards

I am not saying don’t ever wear make-up, colour your hair, enjoy fashion, see a stylist, etc. You may enjoy experimenting with hair colour, make-up, and fashion because it helps you express a part of yourself. Or you follow a diet and/or exercise plan to lose weight because it would be the right thing for you to do for your health and wellness.

I’m cautioning against blind acceptance and following of society’s standards for beauty and what it considers healthy. Because it may not be what is right for you and so may not help you love your body with illness or injury. Also, if you have limited energy due to being in a caring/supporting role or the illness/injury you have, you’ve got to spend that energy wisely.

So double check if what you are doing is healthy for you, your body and your sense of wellness. And if you are embarking on making changes in your diet or exercise be sure to get the ok from a suitably qualified professional, such as a GP or nutritionist. Just to make sure the changes you want to make and how you want to make them are healthy for you, won’t adversley impact on medication dosages, etc.

Pic of two tips on developing a balanced body image so you can love your body with illness or injury. Tip 1: Spend time getting to know the body part you don't like. What does it enable you to do in your life? (even if it functions differently from before) Does it enable you to do necessary activities and activities you enjoy? Practice saying, "I am grateful you help me do XYZ." Tip 2: Consume society's standards mindfully. Pick and choose what works for you and your health and sense of wellness. To ensure you expend your energy wisely and productive for you.

What’s it like for you?

How do you love your body with illness or injury? How has the relationship with your body changed? What has helped you or would help to develop a good enough relationship with your body? 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 serious health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to develop a new relationship with your body, 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

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You can find an emotional balance after illness or injury

You can find an emotional balance after illness or injury

Learning how to find an emotional balance after illness or injury can sometimes take a back seat. Your focus is often on recovery, rehabilitation, and figuring out how to live your life in your changed body.

Time moves on and you’ve started doing things you used to do before the illness or injury. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. You tell yourself you should feel grateful. But you don’t. You don’t feel that sense of emotional balance.

You may be quick to anger, tears or both, feel like you’re hiding away from people and life, and feel guilt. You feel what you’ve lost: your old life, a sense of control, confidence, etc. It’s taking a toll on your mental health. You wonder if you will ever feel well again, find an emotional balance and be happy. And is that even possible given all the (unwanted and un-asked for) change you’ve been through.

 

Pic of a woman with a stick due to having a disability and looking at the health lottery ticket she won but she didn't even know she was playing.

It’s not uncommon to lose one’s sense of emotional balance when you find out you won a health lottery you didn’t even know you were playing.

 

This is a common scenario I come across in my work as a coach and facilitator and it’s clear why. Recovery and rehabilitation along with your regular day-to-day life can be a full-time job. You may not have the energy to focus on the emotional side of things. But it can also feel really scary and too big to deal with. And knowing how to deal with it can be an issue. It may feel easier to use your energy to keep the lid firmly shut on it. Yet the issues keep bubbling up pushing the lid off.

 

Pic of a person trying to keep a lid on the sadness they feel.

Pushing down your sadness means it will keep coming up to the surface and spilling out.

 

So I want to share with you two important things you can do which will help you find an emotional balance after illness or injury.

 

Learn the two things you can do to find an emotional balance again after a life-changing illness or injury #seriousillness #chronicillness #invisibleillness #seriousinjury #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

1. Integrate your experience of the illness/injury into your life story to find an emotional balance

 

You have a story of your life. When and where you were born, what it was like for you growing up and becoming an adult, who your best mates are, what you enjoy doing, your education, the work you do, key events in your life, etc.

The key thing is to integrate your experience(s) of the illness or injury so it is a part of your life story rather than dominating it – the negative and positive experiences. (And yes, you may have experience some positives such as the kindness of a stranger, a good friend standing by you, something else.) Your illness or injury experience will shape you as a person, but you’ve experienced a lot of other events, emotions, relationships, jobs, experiences, etc. which have also shaped you. And will continue to do so.

 

The illness/ injury/ disability is one part of your life, not the whole of it.

 

Your #seriousillness #chronicillness #invisibleillness #seriousinjury is one part of your life, not the whole of it #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

I find what helps you to do this is acknowledging, owning, and finding a way to express the feelings you experience in relation to the illness/injury. Even the unfamiliar and unpleasant ones like sadness, grief, anger, isolation, etc.

Clients often describe being in touch with these unpleasant feelings as moving through a swamp. People find the prospect scary and so avoid the swamp as they fear they will drown in it. As I wrote in other blogs, it’s not about unpacking and drowning in the swamp forever and ever. There are ways to acknowledge these feelings so that does not happen to you.

 

Woman flailing in a swamp of unpleasant emotions and there is a woman on the bank saying that the swamp isn't deep, the woman can stand and trying to help get her out.

Paradoxically, to find an emotional balance often means wading through the swamp of unfamiliar and sometimes scary emotions and feelings.

 

These unpleasant feelings are actually really normal to experience in the scheme of life. It is unfortunate that society has stigmatised them as not normal. They are part of a spectrum of feelings and acknowledging that we feel them demonstrates our human-ness.

 

2. Integrate the person you were before the illness/injury with the person you are now and are becoming to find an emotional balance

 

This is the second thing you can do which will help.

Before the life-changing illness/injury, you knew who you were and what you were about: your likes, dislikes, you had plans for the future and dreams, you had your friends, work, routine, etc. Things felt stable and you ticked along happy and confident that if you put the effort in, you would get the results you wanted for yourself.

But after the life-changing illness or injury, you may feel like you are not you anymore, whilst knowing you are still you. You feel like a contradiction and this can feel destabilising, hence why people try to find an emotional balance. Many people feel this so it’s entirely normal. It’s also true that you are you and not you.

 

After a life-changing #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury you may feel you are still you but not you. It’s true. You are you and not you. Read why here. #healthcoaching #wellness tell a friend

 

The reason why is you are evolving.

 

The direction your life is taking is completely different from what you thought it was prior to your illness or injury. In a sense, you are living a new life. And there is no visible, well-trodden path to living this new life. No one gives you a handbook on how to find an emotional balance.** There are a lot of unknowns before you. And the unknown is uncertain, which can be worrisome, and it can feel like you are in the swamp again.

Part of this process of integration is being very conscious of how you are now and how you are changing, taking a proactive and deliberate role in it, and determining the direction you are moving in.

As you take considered action, what you are doing is building your path of wellness as you are walking/rolling on it. And as you are building your path, you know what is going into it. That creates a level of certainty. Do this and you find an emotional balance you have been seeking. It’s possible.

 

Pic of two women building one of the women's path of well so she can find an emotional balance

Building your own path of wellness will enable you to find an emotional balance.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What has it been like for you when trying to find an emotional balance after a life-changing illness or injury? What has helped you to find an emotional balance again?

If you are living with a chronic illness, or the after effects of a serious illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to build that firm path back to wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

** My blogs are meant to be the handbook on how to find an emotional balance and more after a life-changing illness or injury. You can sign up to my newsletter below to get them direct to your inbox.

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

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How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

To increase your self-worth after illness or injury can feel like a mammoth task. You’ve been thrown into this unknown land of serious illness or injury, you can’t do what you once did, and you don’t know what to do to feel better. You may feel like you have lost control and aren’t sure who you are anymore. It’s understandable that your confidence takes a nose dive and your self-worth quickly follows.

So I have an exercise to help you increase your self-worth after illness or injury. It’s easy. And fun. It also ties in nicely with last week’s blog where I wrote about adjusting high standards after an illness or injury and maintaining your self-worth in the process. This exercise can help with that too.

I came up with this idea when chatting to a participant after delivering a self-management course about developing ways to manage one’s health condition. The exercise was well received. So I’m sharing it with you.

It doesn’t matter if you have the illness or injury, how long it’s been since you’ve had it or are the carer. This exercise applies to everyone.

 

Increase your self-worth after illness or injury exercise

 

Have you experienced a #seriousillness #seriousinjury or have a #chronicillenss? Does your #confidence and #selfworth feel low? Increase them w/ this exercise tell a friend

 

1. Make a list of actions you can take which will make you feel better, enhance how you look after yourself, contribute towards your sense of wellness

 

These actions can be behavioural actions, something someone would see you do or hear you say. Or they can be more mental based, internal to you.

The actions can be related to different parts of your life – how you feel in yourself, your physical wellness, managing your health condition, your recovery/rehabilitation, family relationships, social life, job/career, faith, life purpose, adjusting your own personal high standards, etc.

Here is my list

  • Stretch every day and do it during the day so I get away from my desk and computer.
  • Walk to the shops every day.
  • Reduce portion sizes at meals by 1/3.
  • Move to blogging weekly. Write the blog for the next week on a Friday.
  • When I get into the typical negative thought cycle that I do, stop and ask myself, ‘What do I really need right now?’
  • I imagine being in touch with a friend. So I will email or text them to start the conversation in real life.
  • Someone compliments me. I will thank the person and I will not say, ‘Oh, that was nothing,’ as that is minimising what I did. I will also sit with the compliment, notice the positive feelings it gives me and let myself feel how good it makes me feel.
  • I will tell myself I am a good person just because.
  • Take a luxurious bubble bath once a week.

These are real and current for me right now.

 

It’s important to notice the characteristics of the actions, as they help to contribute towards your self-worth.

 

There are a variety of actions, which is good as I am not relying on one type to increase my self-worth.

The actions are helping me to make a change I want for myself. So it’s ok if the actions will be repeated. An action promoting change has to be repeated for the change to become a habit.

They focus on various aspects of my life promoting me to look after myself physically, emotionally, etc.

These actions are FOR ME. And this is incredibly important. When setting your actions, make sure they are FOR YOU. Not purely what other people want you to do for them or actions you want to take to please others.

What I don’t want is for you to end up in a cycle of achieving things to please others to feed your self-worth. It may increase your self-worth, but if these are the only actions which feed your self-worth it gets very tiring after a while and is not sustainable. I know, I did it for a good part of my life.

It’s fine to have some actions which benefit both you and others, like focusing on spending more time with your children, older parents, friends, volunteering, etc.

And it’s fine to have everyday actions that nurture you in some way – making time to read a good book, or have a cup of quiet tea in the morning before the family wakes up, or taking a bubble bath.

 

Pic of a person holding their hands over their heart and the actions they have taken to feed their self-worth

What action are you taking to feed your self-worth?

 

If you want a structured exercise to help you set actions for this exercise, then get the free Wellness Assessment from the homepage of my website. It will help you to set goals in areas of your life important to you, and then the actions you can take to start moving yourself towards them.

 

2. Find a jar with a wide enough opening to put things in

 

This is your Self-worth Jar. Make sure the jar is such that you can see the contents inside of it, i.e. clear glass or plastic.

Feel free to decorate it as much or as little as you wish.

If you don’t have a jar, a vase can work well.

 

Picture of a clear glass jar and vases which can be used as your self-worth jar

 

3. Find an object to represent the actions you plan to take

 

This can be marbles, stones or gravel, or other small objects. They could even be from nature: acorns, conkers, pinecones, shells. You’ll need a number of these. Or you can use a piece of paper with your action written on it.

Feel free to use a mixture of small items to represent the actions you will take.

Make sure the items representing your actions are in proportion to the size of your Self-Worth Jar. If you jar is too big and the items representing your actions really small, it can take a long time to fill up your jar. You want to make this process achievable for yourself.

 

Picture of everyday items like stones gravel shells conkers and corks which can be used to put in your self-worth jar every time you take an action that increases your self-worth

 

4. Every time you take one of your actions, put an object in your Self-Worth Jar

 

Pic of items (conkers) in a self-worth jar. The conkers represent an action taken to increase one's self-worth.

 

When you do that, metaphorically pat yourself on your back, give yourself a high-5 and tell yourself well done. Notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Sit with these feelings for a bit. This is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT TO DO.

I cannot emphasise this enough. When you do this you are learning or reminding yourself:

  • What it feels like to do something positive and nurturing for yourself
  • What it feels like to set goals which are good for you and to move towards them
  • How good it feels to achieve something for yourself
  • That it’s ok to do something good purely for yourself
  • That you are good and fine just the way you are right now.

Watch your jar fill up. Bask in your self-worth.

When you do something good for yourself, notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Read why that is important here #healthcoaching tell a friend

 

5. When your jar is full, continue basking in your self-worth

 

Notice the feelings you feel and identify where in your body you feel them. Sit with these feelings. I say it again – This is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT TO DO.

BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT YOUR SELF-WORTH FEELS LIKE!

And when you know what your self-worth feels like, and you consciously and intentionally practice what it feels like, it starts to become a natural and habitual part of you. This helps you to increase your self-worth.

 

Pic of a person taking a bath but they are bathing in their self-worth

Take the time to bathe in your self-worth

 

You can empty the jar and start again. You may wish to note somewhere when you have filled up a jar just to remind yourself from time-to-time of how you have helped yourself.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What do you think of this Self-Worth Jar exercise? What strategies have you used to increase your confidence, self-esteem and self-worth?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. If you don’t want to do that because the comments are public, send them to me using the contact form below.

Feel free to start your Self-Worth Jar and share it on social media and tag me using the hashtag #selfworthjar

Twitter – @barbara_babcock

Facebook – @ReturnToWellnessUK

Instagram – @returntowellness_UK

LinkedIn – bbabcock

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to return to a sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

 

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Why adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury helps

Why adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury helps

Adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury often helps people to live well with the impact but can be such a hard thing to do. So when clients say to me they have personal high standards for themselves, they are proud of them because they have enabled them to achieve so much, I get that. And I also make a note of it. (and I still make a note when I notice my own high standards) Here’s why.

Adjusting your personal high standards after #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury often helps people to live well with the impact but can be such a hard thing to do. tell a friend

 

Usually these clients have done bucket loads to help their recovery. Regularly doing physiotherapy, learning about the medical condition, reading books, taking up new hobbies and more. But they find they still aren’t where they want and expect to be.

 

Pic of a person with a disability sitting, crying and wondering why they still don't feel good even though they have been doing a lot to help themselves.

 

That is often when we start working together. I can see how their high standards are one of the things getting in the way of them finding a sense of peace in living in their changed bodies. Here is a typical example of what that looks like in action.

 

Personal high standards can create a vicious cycle

 

Client decides on a task or an activity to do or sets herself a goal.

She has to put in more physical effort to complete the task, activity or goal than in her pre-illness days.

Client worries about having the physical ability and stamina to finish the activity or task.

She compares herself and abilities to her pre-illness self. (This is where pre-illness high standards take over.)

Client continues trying to complete the task, activity or goal to the same standards as pre-illness.

But it’s taking a long time and it’s a lot harder.

She feels anxiety as a result.

Client does not relax.

She therefore does not enjoy the activity.

The client gets upset with herself.

You can see how the high standards from her pre-illness days were making were making her life difficult. They can lead to a vicious cycle and get in the way of a person making the change they want for themselves.

When your body has changed considerably, you end up putting a lot more physical, mental and emotional effort to do things you once did. And that can make it difficult for you to meet your pre-illness high standards. The high standards suited your body and capabilities as they were then, not now.

 

Pic of a person trying to push a heavy rock of personal high standards up a hill but not getting anywhere. Another person tells them that they adjusted their standards and they have been easier to carry ever since.

 

I’ve noticed that when people realise this and importantly, acknowledge this is their reality, that can then free up their energy to do something different to help themselves get to where they want to be.

 

Acknowledging your high standards are no longer achievable or difficult to achieve may not be an easy process

 

This needs to be respected I feel. The person is experiencing a HUGE change, often a life-changing change, which they may be finding traumatic. How their illness or injury occurred could also have been a traumatic event for them. Gentleness and compassion are needed.

I want to explain why this process of acknowledging their reality and adjusting personal high standards after illness or injury is not always easy for people.

 

1. When you experience a life-changing illness or injury, you don’t know what you don’t know

 

As I’ve said in previous blogs, it’s not like you get a handbook on how to deal with the change, adjust, move on with your life and be happy. So of course, you will be operating to your pre-illness or pre-injury standards. It is what you know.

 

2. Your willingness in adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury plays an important role

 

Your willingness will have an impact on how you adapt to living with the impact. Unwillingness to adjust can take several forms.

Your willingness to adjust your personal high standards after #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury plays an important role. Read more here. tell a friend

 

2a. You don’t give yourself choices

 

Some people can operate in a such a way where they don’t give themselves choices in adjusting their personal high standards after illness or injury. For example, ‘I can be like I was or not. Not being like I used to be is not an option. So I’m going to do things as I used to do.’

This can feel a very black and white approach to the situation where only one way is acceptable.

 

2b. You associate your high standards with who you are as a person

 

If you associate your high standards with the sense of who you are as a person, your sense of identity, this can make it difficult to adjust them. For example,

I am a high-achiever.’

When we say I am such-and-such, the I am is fixed. There isn’t much movement to it.

Instead, have a go at saying, 

I work hard and put in a lot of effort to do a lot of things very well.’

That is more process-based, which means it is based on behaviours, i.e. working hard, putting in a lot of effort. When you make your way of being in the world based more on behaviours, there is more movement and flexibility. You can start to adjust how hard you work, how much effort you put in to things. (I am really hoping this makes sense, but if not, leave a question in the comments and I’ll respond.)

If you also place a high value on being this way as a person, this too can contribute to less willingness to adjust your high standards. For example,

am a high-achiever and it’s a great way for me to be.’

This can be hard to let go of. And I get why. Being the high achiever could have served you very well and you’ve done great things with it. There can also be that fear of,

‘If I let go of this, will it mean I am any less great/good as a person?’

Not only are we adjusting our high standards of ourselves, we are also adjusting the value we place on those standards and the value we place on ourselves as a consequence of living to those standards. It’s about adjusting your high standards and maintaining your self-worth.

 

2c. Adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury means you are acknowledging what has happened

 

When adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury, it also means you are acknowledging the change you’ve experienced. If the change was unwelcomed and not wanted, which most serious illnesses and injuries are, acknowledging the change can be harder.

 

Pic of a person with a disability sitting down and crying about having to deal with the change they never would have chosen for themselves and not being able to accept it.

 

I am using the word acknowledgement on purpose. Many times I hear people say accept. Re-read the previous paragraph using the word accepting instead of acknowledging. Notice any differences you feel.

Sometimes the meaning people give to the word accept can have a not-very-helpful impact on their adjustment process. (I will be writing more about this in the future, but for now if you want to share with me your experience of acceptance in the context of living with a serious health issue, there’s more on that below.)

The above three reasons explain why being willing to adjust our high standards can be hard and why this process must be handled with respect, care and compassion.

 

But having high standards isn’t a bad thing

 

I am not saying having high standards are bad and you can no longer have them. They can have a positive impact:

  • Motivating you to set goals and strive to meet them, which is great for your psychological health (provided the goals and the process are striving towards them are not harming you or others physically or psychologically).
  • Enabling you to achieve more than you originally thought possible.
  • The sense of achievement can feed your self-worth.

All good stuff.

Important Tangent: It’s recommended that your sense of self-worth comes from many sources, not just achieving things particularly if it’s to gain the approval of others.

Having personal high standards when living with #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury isn’t a bad thing. The key thing is being able to adjust them as and when you need to. tell a friend

 

The key thing is adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury to the person you are now physically and psychologically. This is one of the things which helps to bring that sense of peace back into your life. And it’s an ongoing process. You can continue to adjust your personal high standards throughout your life.

 

A mind map of what helps you to adjust your high standards of yourself after illness or injury. Being wiling to adjust them is key.

 

What’s it like for you?

 

Does any of this resonate with you? What has helped you in adjusting your personal high standards after illness or injury? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

I appreciate though leaving a comment publicly about your health situation may not be your thing. So if you want to share it with me privately, complete the contact form below and I will respond.

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to adjust your personal standards, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

 

If you want to leave a comment privately, complete this form. If you want to leave it publicly, keep scrolling.

 

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Depression and serious illness are not a good combination, aim for positivity

Depression and serious illness are not a good combination, aim for positivity

Depression and serious illness or injury is reckoned not to be a good combination. Being positive is often seen to be the better choice.

For example, I often hear people say, ‘Well, you can either get depressed and upset or you can be positive,’ in relation to living with the impact of a serious illness or injury. Many times, the person presents it as being happy is the right choice. Because who wants to be depressed and upset, right?

I get that. The fear that depression and sadness can overwhelm us and once we go there, we won’t be able to get out, is very real. So, we don’t go there at all. We shut that door and double lock it. Depression and serious illness won’t get us.

Picture of a person trying to lock out the depression and sadness of their serious illness

Locking depression and sadness out

 

I acknowledge this works for people.

I also want to acknowledge that for others, ignoring how sad and/or depressed they feel and striving to focus only on being positive may not. And I want to tell you why.

If you are one of these people, you may find what I share here will help your thinking around this and restore calm in how you feel about yourself.

Is it wrong to feel depressed when living with a #seriousillness #chronicillness #seriousinjury? Is it better to focus on feeling positive? What are your thoughts? tell a friend

 

Why the choice between depression and serious illness or being positive may not work for you

 

It’s a choice between two ways of being. An either-or choice. Be sad or be positive.

You only have two options.

On top of this, depression and sadness can have a negative connotation in our society so being positive is the ‘correct’ choice.

 

Your choices are laced with judgement

 

Have you selected the right choice or the wrong choice?

It’s not fun to be seen as the person who selected the ‘wrong’ choice, i.e. being sad and depressed. It also assumes that is an active choice we make. But sadness and depression doesn’t work like that. They can creep up on your unnoticed. Or come unexpectedly to be your new companion.

Pic of a person telling a sad person to snap out of it

If you only you could just snap out of depression and serious illness. But it doesn’t work like that.

 

So of course you plough on, trying your damndest to be positive, because you can’t let the illness or injury ‘win’. Yet inside, there is a well of sadness filling up that you keep trying to push down.

Pic of a person trying to keep a lid on the sadness they feel.

Pushing down your sadness means it will keep coming up to the surface and spilling out.

 

You are expending your often times limited amounts of energy in these opposing directions. How long will your energy last? In my experience, not forever. Here’s an alternative.

 

Rather than give yourself a dilemma, give yourself a trilemma

 

This is what a tutor from my first coaching qualification told me. This was an important learning that has helped me (and others) in coping with difficult situations like a serious illness.

When we say we have a choice between this or that – being sad or positive for example – we give ourselves two choices, or a dilemma. Sometimes this is referred to as ‘black and white thinking’.

What if you gave yourself a third choice? Or a fourth choice? So you have a trilemma or a quadlemma.

This is about moving from

either this or that

to

either this or that or that or…

You can give yourself as many choices as you wish.

Pic of the either-or dilemma and giving yourself more choices

Giving yourself more choices

 

When you have more than two choices, you give yourself more possibilities.

When you have more than two #choices, you are giving yourself more possibilities. #seriousillness #seriousinjury #chronicillness tell a friend

 

These possibilities open up new ways of being and doing which may better meet your needs. You are no longer stuck with two choices neither which may be right for you.

When you have several possibilities, you have a choice to select one that is appropriate for you at that time. This helps to build your muscle of flexibility. And the ability to be flexible and move among choices is so important to living well with the impact of a serious illness or injury.

More possibilities also help to take away the judgement of seeing your choice as being right or wrong. It becomes the best choice for you in that moment.

 

Giving ourselves choices acknowledges the many ways we feel

 

Importantly, when we give ourselves choices, we are acknowledging that there are many ways we can feel at any particular time.

If we just give ourselves only two choices laced with the judgement that one choice is correct and the other wrong, then we discount something very real we may be feeling.

It is NORMAL to feel incredibly sad when we are dealing with the impact of a serious illness or injury. Acknowledging how you feel gives validity to your experience. This validity can be very healing.

Acknowledging how you feel about living with a #seriousillness #chronicillness or #seriousinjury gives validity to your experience. Validity helps the healing process tell a friend

 

Acknowledging your sadness, depression and serious illness also develops your self-awareness. You are in a better position to recognise what you need and then make a choice to meet that need.

When you meet your needs, then you are much less likely to end up unpacking and living in the sadness and depression.

So I encourage you to acknowledge the many ways you feel – desperately sad some moments or days, hugely depressed on others, sad but not huge amounts at other times, pretty good on other days, downright happy and thrilled in other moments, etc, etc.

Give yourself choices in how you feel, your needs and how you meet those needs.

Pic of a person saying that acknowledging their feelings brings benefits of validity and choices

 

What’s it like for you?

 

How do the thoughts in this article resonate with you? How are you at acknowledging the many ways you feel in relation to your, or a loved one’s, serious illness, serious injury or chronic illness?

If you are living with a serious health issue, which may be a serious illness or injury or chronic illness, or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to return to a sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

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Managing your expectations of yourself when returning to work after a serious illness

Managing your expectations of yourself when returning to work after a serious illness

Managing your expectations of yourself when returning to work after a serious illness or injury is key for a successful transition. But because it is about you managing your expectations of yourself, it can be one of the hardest things to do.

You are someone who believes in doing a good job. And you will go the extra mile to make that happen. After all, you have high standards and are proud of that and the work you do. It gives you great satisfaction.

You may also feel the need to prove to others that you can still do your job and do it well. And you enjoy your job and are keen to continue in your role.

So you try to do your job as best you can, as close as possible to how you did it before your illness/injury. But despite your best efforts, you are finding you can’t. You’re tired, maybe feeling dejected and not feeling like yourself anymore. You wonder if you can still do your job. And you may be afraid others are thinking you no longer can. You try to find the energy to plough on, to keep going in the hopes your recovery will kick in and you will soon feel like your old self.

Managing expectations of yourself when returning to work after #seriousillness or injury is key for a successful transition. Yet it can be one of the hardest things to do #returntowork tell a friend

 

It’s understandable

 

You don’t know any different. As I often say, you don’t know what you don’t know when you are seriously ill or injured. We know what the doctors and nurses tell us and the messages society gives us around health, illness and disability (the latter which may not be relevant to your situation or correct). We know how different our bodies feel. But we often aren’t given info on how to live well with the ongoing impact of a serious illness or injury including returning to work.

So how can you stay in work doing good work and being happy with that whilst dealing well with the impact of your illness or injury?

As I said up front, managing your expectations of yourself at work is key. There are four things you can do which will help.

  1. Adjust your expectations of yourself
  2. Learn how to live in your changed body
  3. Learn how to manage the impact of stress
  4. Set your boundaries with others on what you can and cannot do and stick to them

 

Four things you can do to manage your expectations of yourself when returning to work

 

These may feel like pretty chunky steps. And they are. This is an ongoing process. Not a tick box exercise where you do steps 1, 2, 3 and voilà you are a new person. So for a start I just give you some key tips for each and refer you to related blogs I have written on related topics. What I do know from my personal experience and that of my clients is that these steps work.

Read about the 4 things you can do to manage your expectations of yourself when returning to work after #seriousillness or #injury #returntowork tell a friend

 

Managing your expectations of yourself requires you to adjust your expectations

 

Adjusting your expectations of yourself requires you to acknowledge the changes you have experienced as a result of your illness or injury. The changes may include what you are no longer able to do or unable to do as well or as quickly. You may have very much valued what you were once able to do.

They could also be new things you have to do because of your illness/injury. Like having to know where the toilets are where ever you go outside your home due to having bladder and/or bowel issues. Having to inject insulin before every meal due to diabetes. Or eating more healthily and exercising more.

Acknowledging the changes you have had to make may or may not be easy as I mentioned in an earlier blog on returning to work. It depends on the type of change and whether you would have welcomed the change pre-illness/injury.

Adjusting your expectations of yourself at work requires you to acknowledge the changes you have experienced as a result of your #seriousillness or #injury #returntowork tell a friend

 

Linked to this is redefining who you believe yourself to be. This is about change at the core of you, your sense of identity, which is a fundamental change. This is a journey and can take time. Being willing to try on other ways of being and doing in the world can help you move through this stage with more ease and less emotional turmoil.

 

Redefining your identity is a fundamental change in belief about who you are

 

Managing your expectations of yourself requires you to learn how to live in your changed body

 

The blog I wrote on preparing for your return to work has tips which will help you learn how to live in your changed body.

Pacing yourself to manage your energy levels is a key part of this. Clients have said learning to do less at work, not trying to be the hero and fix everything, and taking regular breaks helped. Also, being willing to use aids that helped them manage their symptoms, such as a hot water bottle or a fan to cool themselves. Which aids you use will depend on the ongoing residual symptoms you live with.

Setting goals for your rehabilitation and returning to work will also help. As well as listening closely to your body and making adjustments to your routine as a result.

#pacing yourself to manage your energy levels is a key part of learning to live in a changed body after a #seriousillness or #injury and will help you adjust to the work routine #returntowork tell a friend

 

Managing your expectations of yourself requires you to learn how to manage the impact of stress

 

It’s important to manage stress because it can exacerbate any residual symptoms you may be living with. This is stress from external events and self-induced stress.

I’ve seen with clients how stress at work kept then awake at nights, the lack of sleep contributed to their fatigue, the fatigue meant they could not work or work as much as they would like, etc. It became a vicious circle.

Self-induced stress often comes from our habitual ways of being and doing in the world which no longer serve us. But we might have not yet realised that our habitual strategies have outlived their useful life. It’s important to identify these and make changes. One client made changes by identifying what was in her control to do and as a result she reported feeling less pain.

I also recommend you read these two blogs on using your personal power well to manage your health and wellness – part 1 and part 2.

Being very aware of what causes you to feel stressed and managing the impact effectively can reduce any negative impact stress can have. Important when you are returning to work after a #seriousillness or #injury #returntowork tell a friend

 

Managing your expectations of yourself requires you to set your boundaries with others on what you can and cannot do and stick to them

 

This is so important. And can be so hard to do. Because it means you have to say no to people. And sometimes we don’t like saying no because we feel we aren’t helping the other person and we like to help others. Or we feel obligated to do what other people need from or want of us. Or we feel a need to make others happy by doing what they want from us.

This also requires you to develop the belief (if you haven’t already) that you are important, your needs are valid, you are worth it, and so it is ok for you to put yourself first and look after yourself. AND to operate on that belief in your life.

What I wrote about managing others’ expectations of you in a earlier blog in this series on returning to work helps you to start setting those boundaries on what you can and cannot do.

And remember, boundaries can change for the right reasons during the process of returning to work.

How easy do you find it to set boundaries at work and stick to them when living with the impact of a #seriousillness or #injury? #returntowork tell a friend

 

But something else is key in all of this

 

The willingness to adapt and be flexible.

And being gentle with yourself. Shower yourself with compassion.

 

Picture of a woman showering herself with self-compassion

 

If you try something and it doesn’t work, focus on what you learned and try something else. Also make sure to have good people at work and in your life who encourage you.

Remember, you are doing the best you can in not the easiest of circumstances.

 

Picture summarising what you can do in managing your expectations of yourself when returning to work after a serious illness or injury

A summary of the blog on managing your expectations of yourself when returning to work after a serious illness or injury

 

What’s it like for you?

 

What aspects of the above blog resonate with your situation? What do you find difficult or easy to do? If you have returned to work after a serious illness or injury, what have you done to manage your expectations of yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you will soon be returning to work after a serious illness or injury or are already in the process of doing so and want to work through the recommended steps in this blog with support, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

 

Help with research on acceptance

 

If you or a loved one experienced a serious health issue in the past 2 years and are struggling or wondering if you can accept what has happened, I would love to speak with you. I am researching the concept of ‘acceptance’ within the context of a serious health issue by collecting people’s experiences with it. Click here to find out more. And in exchange, I offer you a free 1 hour coaching session.

 

Pass it forward

 

Although I wrote this blog in the context of living with a serious health issue, the ideas contained within are applicable to everyone. If you think someone you know would benefit from reading this blog, or you just want to spread the ideas, click on the icons to share.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

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