We have arrived, at last, at last, with our final post in our series on positive thinking. We began with where the modern positive thinking movement came from, followed that with the scientific and medical explorations around positive thinking, took a detour into my personal struggles with positive thinking, discussed some of the disconnects in the modern positive thinking messages and finally answered the question, can the mind heal the body?
This week we’ll put everything together with some action steps to use what we’ve learned in our day-to-day lives.
If you’d like to check out the prior posts, here you go:
- Part 1: Where did ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’ come from?
- Part 2: Mind-Body Goes Mainstream
- Part 3: The Seduction of Positive Thinking
- Part 4: In the Weeds of Positive Thinking
- Part 5: Disconnects
- Part 6: Can the mind heal the body?
- Part 7: Peaceful Mind – Peaceful Body
We know now that thinking, “I will cure myself with positive thoughts!” is off base, but the intent is good. Participating in our healing and our future is essential. It’s just the strategy that needs adjusting. Realizing that the mind cannot cure the body (or finances, or relationship, or business, or, or, or,…) allows for two VERY important things.
This is the “chronic” part of chronic resilience. Being human is a chronic experience. It is relentless. Perpetual. Unending.
Part of being on earth, in a body, dealing with other people on earth in bodies means that we will face challenges. Internal ones when we get frustrated with ourselves. And external ones when we have disagreements, are stuck in traffic or receive a diagnosis.
We will not handle these perfectly because we’re not designed to. We are human. We’ll bumble through.
We’ll think positively, negatively and everything in between. We’ll have good days and bad ones. We’ll drink green juice for a week straight and then comfort ourselves with decadent pasta and piles of sugar. These imperfections don’t make you less than and they don’t make you responsible for every situation you find yourself in. Sometime cruddy stuff happens. Sometimes we contributed to it and other times things just didn’t go how we were hoping. Welcome to the roller coaster – it’s a wild one.
This is what we need to accept. We need to have compassion with ourselves for living through the
messiness that is the human experience. Without that grace, it will be a tortuous journey of never feeling good enough. Allowing for this lets the tension go between what you were hoping life would be and what it is at this moment. We can’t change the past, we can only take responsibility for this moment and go forward.
Accept that life is chronic and then OWN IT with every fiber of your being.
Control is the “resilience” part of chronic resilience. This may seem odd after I just wrote about acceptance, but hang with me.
Every situation has two components: what is out of our control and what is in our control. We have to accept what is out of our control: the fact that we’re human, the past, the present, other people, etc… Then we need to figure out what is in our control and take action.
We know from the research we looked at earlier in this series that there are many, many ways we can contribute to our healing and reduce stress. In chapter 1 of Chronic Resilience, I ask readers to make a list of everything that is in their control. At first it may feel like nothing is, but give it a few moments and you’ll create a whole list of ways that you can positively impact your life.
When I realized that I wasn’t going to create a miraculous healing in my diseased kidney with positive thoughts, meditation or any of the other treatments I tried, I sat down and wrote out what I could control so that I could create the best possible outcome given my current situation.
Even though I didn’t choose kidney disease (it wasn’t repressed childhood trauma, or negative thoughts, or anything else), I could take ownership of that reality and do my part to create healing, not cure, healing.
Here are just a few of the things that were/are in my control:
- Got educated: I learned everything I could about chronic kidney disease, dialysis and transplant so that I could have educated discussions with my doctors and make informed decisions.
- Went vegan: I committed to eliminating all animal products from my diet. I focused on what I could eat instead of what I couldn’t.
- Found support: From David Spiegel’s study, we know that support helps us cope better with illness. Through volunteering, I found a wonderful group of organ recipient soul sisters to guide me through the transplant.
- Exercised: Moving is important. It just is. So I did it.
- Choose the right health care team: I found doctors I trusted and a transplant facility that was one of the best in the country. All of our care providers were amazing.
- Scaled back: I decided what was important and made those things a priority. I trimmed the rest of my commitments back so that I could allow time and space for healing.
Even when the challenge seems insurmountable, you are resilient. There are things that you can control to help create the best possible outcome.
It took me a long time to figure out that I could not control every detail in my life. I had to do my part and trust that the rest would work out…and know that if it didn’t work out as I’d hoped – I’d have the resilience to get through it.
That is the truth of it. Life is what it is…
Wonderful and messy.
Bright and dark.
Chronic and resilient.
Ready for the full story of how to live chronic resilience? Check out
Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness.
“I highly recommend this groundbreaking book!”
-Kris Carr, NY Times Bestselling Author