Why is speaking your truth about your illness important?

Why is speaking your truth about your illness important?

I feel that speaking your truth about your illness or injury (or a loved one’s) is important. But I appreciate you may not want to talk about how you are affected. You may think this would be burdening others with your problems, or you would be seen as a moaner. But chances are there may be people you know well who would be very willing to listen.

Or maybe you just have no desire to talk about it as when you’re with others, it can be an escape from daily reality. That’s ok.

I’m not advocating speaking your truth about your illness or injury is something you have to do, nor do you do it to everyone all of the time. And if you choose to, here are two benefits.

A woman with a megaphone saying, 'This is how people like me are affected.' On the megaphone is written 'society listen'. Speaking your truth about your illness is important as a benefit is it increases awareness to others. That awareness is necessary so support can be available to meet this population's needs.

Benefit 1 – Speaking your truth about your illness normalises the experience. It makes it a more accepted part of life.

What I mean by using the words ‘normalises’ and ‘accepted’ is that illness and injury do happen and can be life-changing for those directly affected and those around them. On the whole, they are not rare events. But the life-changing aspect can be really hard for people so it is understandable that as a society we don’t like to talk about it much.

But not talking about it can have an unhelpful impact, i.e. lack of awareness means people affected don’t get the support they need. This is why I appreciated when Billy Connolly recently spoke of his illness and ageing experience.

During episode 2 of a recent two-part programme about Billy Connolly, he shared how he honestly felt about being where he is at in his life – aged 76 and living with Parkinson’s.

(According to Parkinson’s UK, ‘Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition’, which ‘causes problems in the brain and gets worse over time’.)

Billy Connolly said,

‘I’m near the end. I’m a damn sight nearer the end than I am the beginning. But it doesn’t frighten me, it’s an adventure and it is quite interesting to see myself slipping away…As bits slip off and leave me, talents leave and attributes leave. I don’t have the balance I used to have, I don’t have the energy I used to have. I can’t hear the way I used to hear, I can’t see as good as I used to. I can’t remember the way I used to remember.’

Billy Connolly’s honesty was courageous

It touched me. I appreciated it. It helps people to realise one person’s truth about the impact of a life-changing illness or injury, ageing and death. He shared his reality – the good, what we feel may be the not good, and everything in between.

Speaking your truth makes the experience of your illness, injury and even ageing more normal within our society. If these experiences are normalised in our society, we are in a better position to meet this population’s needs regarding employment, social care, the accessibility of the built environment, society’s attitudes and more.

Speaking your truth makes the experience of your #illness or #injury more normal within our society. If these experiences are normalised in our society, we are in a better position to meet this population’s needs. Tell a Friend

But you cannot control how other people receive what you have to say

It looks like part of Billy Connolly’s fan base was ‘depressed’ by his honest account of where he is in his life according to this BBC article. The article featured a tweet his wife posted the day after the tv show aired of Billy Connolly playing his banjo and saying, ‘Not dying, not dead, not slipping away.’ He also apologised and said he should have phrased it better.

I don’t think he needed to apologise to his fans for them feeling depressed about his comments. I loved how he gave an honest account using language that was meaningful to him.

When I looked at the replies, I didn’t get a sense of people being ‘depressed’ by what Billy Connolly said. Sad, yes. He is a much-loved cultural icon in the UK. People have received so much from his work.

The thought of him no longer being around so people can’t continue to receive what he has to offer, except via his previous material, is sad. That sentiment came through clearly in the replies to Pamela Stephenson’s tweet and even in a reply to my tweet.

Benefit 2 – You may actually inspire people by speaking your truth about your illness

Another theme in the replies to Pamela Stephenson’s tweet was how inspiring people found what Billy had to say. This was a dominant theme. It reminded me that although we can’t totally control how people receive and understand our message, people can find it inspiring when you speak your truth. They may find it helps them cope with their own difficulties in a new and helpful way.

You can end up inspiring and helping people in a positive way when you speak your truth about your #illness or #injury Tell a Friend

When we speak our truth, we can be displaying our vulnerability in a healthy way. You are showing people this is your reality and it’s ok to talk about it. You are normalising your experience. People can then think, ‘Oh, I had something similarly difficult. It’s ok.’ This is similar to what I wrote last week about how when you let yourself be your best, you give people the permission to be their best version of themselves too. When you speak your truth, you enable others to do it too.

But also, when you speak your truth, when you acknowledge the good, the downright ugly and everything in between, you acknowledge and recognise your experience. Which is a psychologically healthy thing to do. Acknowledgement raises your self-awareness. Self-awareness gives you choices to do something different. Choices means you have freedom to choose.

Picture of a man saying 'this is what my injury has been like, it's not easy but here is what I've learned.' He is acknowledging his experience both the good and the bad. Then he realises something and that increases his self-awareness. He then says he has some options. Speaking your truth about your illness is important because it's acknowledging your experience, which raises your self-awareness which in turn gives you choices.

What’s it like for you?

Is speaking your truth about your illness or injury something you find difficult or easy to do? What do you think are the benefits? When may it not be appropriate? 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 enhance the quality of your life, 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

How to transform your deepest fear into positive action

How to transform your deepest fear into positive action

What is your deepest fear about the changes you want to make this year? Even if you don’t set new year’s resolutions. You may set intentions to change, goals or objectives at another point in the year.

Whenever you set an intention for something to be different, to make a change, a fear about it may still be there. And whilst I think it’s important to get to know our fear, I love the sentiment around the nature of fear in the poem ‘Our Deepest Fear’ by Marianne Williamson.

Read about how to transform your deepest fear about the changes you want to make this year into positive action #seriousillness #chronicillness Tell a friend

Are you actually afraid of your greatness?

Her premise is that our deepest fear is of our own greatness, our power, our light. And I get that. A lot of my clients are surprised to learn how much they focus on their inadequacy or what is wrong rather than what is going well in their lives and how good they feel about something positive which has happened.

We have ended up being hard wired to focus on the negative (and this helped our ancestors survive). Yet what if we developed our abilities to focus on the positive? This could balance things out a bit. I’ve seen the positive difference it has made with clients.

And that is very much needed when you are living with a challenging health issue be it an illness or injury where your life may have changed a lot and it feels like that all you’ve been dealing with is negativity. It can help you to make the changes you want for yourself.

A picture of woman saying she would love to study so she can change her job, but... and she doesn't say anything else. She is depicted as being wrapped in fear. Our deepest fear can stop change from happening.

So what I’ve done is taken Marianne Williamson’s poem ‘Our Deepest Fear’, which is in italics throughout this blog, and added in questions and thoughts on each stanza for you to reflect on. To help you develop your self-appreciation muscle for the year ahead.

Our Deepest Fear

You can find this poem in Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.

You may think, ‘What power do I have? My body is broken/changed! I can’t do what I used to do!’

Yes, your body has changed. You have changed. But I challenge that the change means you are devoid of power, adequacy, and light.

I encourage you to think about the personal power you do have, what you are good-enough at, and all the lovely qualities that make you uniquely you.

What is your personal power like? Where do you feel your power and adequacy in your body? In your chest, belly, legs, arms, back, all over? What are these sensations like?

What are your strengths, passions and talents? You still have all that. You may need to adapt how you manifest them and you may have developed new ones.

Who are you not to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not be?
You are a child of God.

Are you holding a belief that you can no longer be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous whilst dealing with the impact of a challenging health issue?

Are you holding a belief that you can no longer be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous whilst dealing with the impact of a challenging #health issue? #seriousillness #seriousinjury Tell a friend

Sometimes we assume we can only be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous if we have the kind of health we had before our health issue. Or we equate being brilliant, gorgeous, etc with being perfect.

It’s not about that. It’s about you being your own good-enough version of brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous with where you are now in your life.

What do you need to think, do and feel to fully stand in your brilliance and own it?

Your deepest fear is making you shrink

Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

In the context of this stanza, ‘playing small’ comes across as playing small in a way that is not helpful to you. For example, putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, not asking for what you need, not asking for help when you know you really could use it, or not having a small go at something you really would like to do for yourself.

‘Playing small’ in a way that serves you well is absolutely fine. Paradoxically, It’s a way of ‘playing large’ in your life even whilst you are dealing with the challenges of your or our loved one’s health issue.

What would it be like for you to play large in your life?

If this feels scary, remember that taking small actions is absolutely fine and recommended because they are more achievable. ‘Playing large’ isn’t about doing big things on a grand scale. You define what ‘playing large’ looks, sounds and feels like to you.

Picture of a woman sitting down looking at her tablet about a course at a university. It is an online flexible programme which seems flexible. She says that if she studies, she won't be able to help her cousin with her theatre project. She is making a choice to move through her deepest fear and put herself first so she can shine.

So play with ‘playing large’. Use your imagination. If you were playing large in your life, what would we see you do and hear you say?

Notice what it’s like in your body to play large in your life. Spend time with what it feels like to get to know these feelings. Do this often. That makes these feelings habitual. Feelings you can return to again and again.

You are meant to shine

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; 
It’s in everyone. It’s in everyone.

If the word ‘God’ bothers you, think of God as your inner greatness. And if society’s traditional definition of God works for you, by all means use it.

What is your inner greatness like? If you drew a picture of your inner greatness, what would it look like?

How do you want to manifest your greatness this year? It doesn’t have to be in any big or grand way. It can be of a size and quality that is just right for you.

How do you want to manifest your greatness this year? It doesn’t have to be in any big or grand way. It can be of a size and quality that is just right for you #seriousillness #seriousinjury Tell a friend

When you liberate yourself from your deepest fear, you end up liberating others

And as we let our own light shine, 
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Imagine what it would be like to let your own light shine and do what you really want to do despite your deepest fear. How liberated would you feel?

I think when we want to do something we are very keen to do, we have to feel the fear we hold about it. We have to sit with our fear and feel our way through it. Society often teaches us the opposite, to quash the fear, to put a lid on it. But by getting to know our fear and the need resting underneath it, we liberate ourselves from our fear. We sit alongside it rather than have it wrapped around us keeping us stuck.

Pic of a person looking to jump off a cliff, through their deepest fear into their sea of dreams.
This picture was drawn by Charlotte Reed of May The Thoughts Be With You – www.maythethoughtsbewithyou.com

By doing that, you role model for others how liberating oneself from fear is done. By them seeing it, that makes it a lot easier for them to change. So you end up giving a gift to others.

What’s it like for you?

How do you want to share your brilliance, greatness and talents this year? What will enable you to do that?  And if you have been doing it already, let us know what you’ve done. 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 make changes this year, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2019

How to identify what your illness taught you this year

How to identify what your illness taught you this year

You may not like reading ‘what your illness taught you’. As if you have something to learn. As if the illness is the teacher, the one in control, and you the pupil, the one who has to listen and do what the teacher says.

Living with a challenging health issue can feel like that. You being at the mercy of the illness or injury, dancing to its tune, being obliging, feeling like you are not in control.

That is not my aim here. You didn’t ask for the illness or injury to happen, yet you have to live with its impact. My aim is to help you proactively identify what your illness taught you this past year and therefore what changes you may wish to make next year. You doing this puts you in control.

This blog outlines five questions to help you do that.

I also write this for those of you in a caring/supporting role because you too are impacted by your loved one’s health issue. And when I say illness, I also mean injury or any kind of health issue you find challenging.

Picture of a man holding a large open blank book which has the titles ‘Your 2018’ and ‘Your Learning’ on the pages. There is the question ‘What have you learned from your illness or injury this past year?’

What your illness taught you – The good stuff

What was one good thing which came out of you or a loved one having the illness, injury or another type of health challenge?

Good things can come out of not-so-good and downright bad situations. It may take some work to find those good things. But looking for the good balances out the sad and bad things about a health challenge. And that is the aim of this question.

The good thing may be about you as a person, the people around you, or your life circumstances. You may have learnt who is super supportive, strengths you have, and even abilities you didn’t know you had. You may have learnt to take more time for yourself. Or that living your life at a slower pace is better for you. Or taking care of your needs is not selfish but absolutely necessary.

Were there any other good things? You don’t have to limit it to just one. Find as many as you can.

How can you build on these good things next year?

This is about building on the good things you learned with intention to make sure they stick around in your life.

For example, have you discovered an ability you didn’t know you had? Like a high level of resilience? An artistic talent? Something else? How can you exercise this ability more next year?

Or did you make new friendships? How can you be in contact with these people more often?

Or did you and your partner discover how supportive you are to each other?

What your illness taught you – The bad stuff

What has been the worst thing about having to deal with the illness or injury this year?

I don’t mean to be a downer here. Or open the door for endless moaning. The purpose of this question is to acknowledge the hard bits. To give them their place in the narrative of your (or your loved one’s) health issue and life. By doing that, you put them in their place so they don’t run riot in your life. That way you can move forward from it.

This may be about symptoms that are not easy to manage. Dealing with the uncertainty of fluctuating symptoms and/or relapse of the health issue, the loss of friends who seemed to have vanished when your illness arrived, a loss of a bit of your health and sense of control, confidence, or something else. It can be things that you miss. Or dealing with difficult feelings.

List them. And ensure to spend an equal amount of time on the first question too. Remember, this is about keeping as much of a balance as you can. And I don’t want you to unpack and live in this question, i.e. only focus on the bad stuff.

What are you learning from these not-so-good things?

Identifying what you are learning from the bad bits makes having gone thru them a little more worthwhile. You come out of it with something useful to you to help you move forward.

It’s akin to the saying, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ You didn’t choose for you or your loved one to have a challenging health issue, so how can you extract some goodness from it.

Picture of a woman holding lemons asking ‘What am I going to do with all these lemons?’ A man responds, ‘Make lemonade! We like lemonade.’ The caption reads making something good from your Illness or injury.

The learning can be about your preferences for the future, things you need to learn, what you may need to let go of or something else.

For example, by losing some friends, you may have learned what qualities are important to you in a friendship.

You may have identified you need to learn how to manage some symptoms differently like fatigue or chronic pain to have a better quality of life.

Learning how to deal with the difficult feelings so they don’t feel like they are dominating your life may be higher on your agenda.

You may have learned that you need to let go of achieving things to feed your sense of self-worth.

Finally, what is it about you that has enabled you to get this far?

This is a favourite question of mine. I ask it a lot. The purpose of this question is to remind you of your strengths and abilities. Of all the good qualities about yourself that you really value. Because you have many. Sit with these qualities, strengths, passions and abilities and cherish them. And ask yourself this question again from time to time.

What your illness taught you this year, you can take into next year – what to do more of, what to continue doing, what to stop and start doing.

I am actually writing this blog in New York City. I arrived yesterday for my holidays. So this blog will be the last one for this year. I am aiming to publish 2019’s first blog on 9th January. In the meantime, have a lovely holiday season however you are celebrating it and a very happy new year!

What’s it like for you?

What has been the most important thing you learned from your or your loved one’s health challenge this year? Are there any changes you plan to make next year as a result? 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 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.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

How to make the most of life after illness

How to make the most of life after illness

Make the most of life after illness – This was one of the biggest things I learned from having a serious illness and being a carer. Life is fragile. And short. Much shorter than we expected or intended.

For me, one way to make the most of life after illness has been to work for myself so I can work flexibly, create work that genuinely helps people and brings something good into our world. I often think about it as making my corner of the world a better place.

But then I discovered something.

To make the most of life after illness in the way I want to, I need to ‘put myself out there’

I need to put my head above the parapet.

If I am to grow the work I want to do, I need to get the word out there and show people what I am really about.

I need to make myself (even more) vulnerable

Picture of a woman putting her ahead above the parapet. It's about making yourself vulnerable to make the most of life after illness.

And here I thought life was going to be easy! I know what’s important to me, my strengths, passions and my work caters to all that. I thought I had it sorted and that I had been making myself vulnerable.

But I’m not quite there yet. And may never be if I’m honest. Having it ‘all sorted’ is a pipe dream destination. I have to remind myself that ‘good enough’ is great. But I digress.

I started to wonder why am I worried about making myself even more vulnerable?

Vulnerability can hold you back from making the most of your life after illness

I think it’s because how we interpret ‘vulnerability’ as a society. The English Oxford dictionary defines vulnerability as:

The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.

You read that and think, ‘Whoa! Who wants to put themselves in that position?!’ That is something we actively avoid.

If you’ve been seriously ill or injured or in a caring role, you’ve already experienced enough physical and/or emotional ‘harm’. (I am using the word ‘harm’ loosely here although some of you may have felt genuinely harmed by your or your loved one’s illness or injury.) So why would you put yourself potentially through more?

And yet, making yourself vulnerable may enable you to make the most of life after illness

It will of course depend on what making the most of your life means to you now. And what you need to do and be to make that happen. Different things will be required for different people.

For me, making myself (even more) vulnerable is what I need to do.

Picture of a woman holding a winning ticket from the proactive vulnerability lottery and there is a bucket of resources behind her in which you can see courage. It will take courage for the woman to display her vulnerability, but by doing that she will make the most of life after illness

On some level, I knew this. I’ve known that doing my own thing for work was very much about ‘putting myself out there’. Yet, intentionally making myself even more vulnerable as I ‘put myself out there’ has been reinforced in a different way through conversations I’ve had recently.

One conversation was with two women I’ve been working with. The second is with my therapist when we discussed perpetrator and victim dynamics in my family system.

In both conversations, we discussed the pros and cons of vulnerability. This is what vulnerability now means to me.

There are two kinds of vulnerability

 

It’s like two sides of the same coin.

The vulnerability of being a victim where you are (or feel you are) being on the receiving end of something not very nice from another person or event (like an illness or injury).

The other side of vulnerability is proactively expressing what we need or want to and sharing with others.

They have very different energies.

The vulnerability of being the victim can be a passive energy

When you place yourself in the victim role, you are not truly seen by others. Although this may feel like a safe place and/or meet a need of yours, others may be less aware of your needs and forget about you.

In this case, it is harder for you to get your needs met. You may have to do things by yourself to get your needs met. That can also be a lonely place at times. I know. I lived a good portion my life in that place of passivity.

When you express what you need or want to others or share something important, you are expressing a vulnerability, but the energy behind it is active

You are taking proactive action to meet your needs, wants or desires. It takes courage to display vulnerability in this way. Especially because whoever you are expressing your vulnerability to can say no. They may not be able to help you, to support you, to love you back in the way you want to be loved, or whatever it is you want.

I don’t think the English Oxford dictionary above fully recognises this proactive form of vulnerability. But the work of Brene Brown does. She defines vulnerability as ‘uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure’.

In her book Daring Greatly, she talks about “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings.” (pg. 33)

Picture of a coin and it demonstrates there are two sides to vulnerability. Victim vulnerability which is a passive energy and proactive vulnerability which is an active energy. Proactive vulnerability requires courage and it can help you make the most of life after illness.

This proactive form of vulnerability requires us to display more of who we are, not just the edited bits we show to the world. That is where the ‘uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure’ come in. Yet being and showing more of who we are is often required to make the most of life after illness.

You can sense check what form of vulnerability you’re displaying

The Empowerment Triangle (Karpman, 1968) is the flip side of the Drama Triangle (which I won’t go into today) and both are about power, responsibility and vulnerability. This model displays the proactive form of vulnerability.

For this form of proactive vulnerability to work well, you need the powerful and responsible aspects too.

So I’ll display my vulnerability (proactively)

I entered the UK Blog Awards as a way to share my thoughts, ideas and stories about rebuilding and renewing your life after a serious health issue more widely in the world. And to increase my and Return to Wellness’s visibility.

This is very much about me being proactive and putting myself and my work out there. I am putting my head above the parapet waiting for feedback whatever form that feedback takes.

This leads me to an ask I have. If you have enjoyed this blog (and maybe even others I have written), vote for Return to Wellness here.

Thank you.

Picture of Vote for my blog! Return to Wellness #UKBA19 UK Blog Awards

What about you?

What do you need to do to make the most of life after illness? To what degree do you need to be vulnerable (as described here) to do that? Feel free to share below in the comments.

If you are living with a challenging health issue or are caring for someone who is, and would like support to find non-medical ways to improve your sense of wellness, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

References

Karpman, S. (1968). Fairy tales and script drama analysis. Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 7(26), 39-43.

How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

How to increase your self-worth after illness or injury

Trying 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. Feeling like you have lost control and aren’t sure who you are anymore is an everyday thing. 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.

How to 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

These actions help you to look after yourself better and contribute to your sense of wellness. They 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.

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

Twitter – @barbara_babcock

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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.

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Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

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.

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.

Pass it forward

Has this blog made you think? Helped you in some way? Share it so it can do the same for someone else.

© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2018

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