A lot of the time, chronic illness puts us into direct conflict with our bodies.
You need to earn money, but you hurt so much that you are forced to either quit or drop to part time work.
Or you want to have fun hiking with friends, but you know that there is no way your body could handle it. So, you turn down the invite and plan to stay at home by yourself instead.
You’re angry. Frustrated. Scared. Bored and lonely.
It isn’t fair that you can no longer do the things that normal people do.
It also isn’t anyone’s fault.
And that kind of sucks too. Because it would be a lot easier if you could get mad at your job or your friends. But when pain makes you miss out on life, the only thing you can get mad at is yourself.
You feel like your body has betrayed you.
And even if you had a good relationship with your body before chronic pain, it doesn’t take long for that relationship to crumble.
How could it not?
Because it is crazy hard to take care of your body and give it the things it needs to function at its best when you are mad at it (or actively hate it).
So how can you make peace with your body?
Challenge Your Thoughts
Did your body betray you?
Think of all the things your body does every second of every day. Without any input from you, it:
- Clears out waste.
- Converts food to energy.
- Sends messages to and from your brain.
- Keeps heart rate, blood pressure, and numerous other functions within a certain “normal” range.
- Responds to (and makes sense of) the outside world.
Isn’t it more realistic to expect that such an automatic, complex, ever-changing system would break down every now and then?
The fact that any of us ever have a 100% healthy, functioning body is kind of a miracle.
Pretend you are your body’s employee.
In order for your body to stay in business, it needs some things from you:
- Enough sleep
- Time in nature
- Nutritious food
- Social interaction
As much as I hate to admit it, I was not being a good employee before chronic pain became an issue for me.
I was always pushing myself to get more done, to be more productive. I didn’t know how to relax. My social life was not high on my priority list. Neither was spending time in nature.
I pretty much lived on processed food. And when I did try to eat healthy, I would rarely eat enough.
Looking back, it makes sense that my body would eventually have a hard time functioning the way it was “supposed to”.
I was a shitty employee.
But firing me wasn’t an option. So, my body did the best it could, under the circumstances.
And I’m proud to say that I am a much better employee now.
How would your body evaluate your performance as an employee?
I never set out to treat my body badly. In fact, I was doing the best I could manage at the time.
I bet the same is true for you.
Related post: It’s Not Your Fault
Show Some Gratitude
Your body has been there for you since your first heartbeat and will continue to do its best for you until its dying breath.
It will let you know when it needs food, rest, relaxation, time in nature, or time with friends.
It devotes itself to all the activities necessary for keeping you alive and functioning at your best.
Every. Single. Day.
Sometimes it does an amazing job, whether you help it or not.
And sometimes, through no fault of yours (or its own), it falls short and gets some stuff wrong.
But it is always telling you what it needs. It is your job to listen to it.
Try to treat it kindly and with respect, no matter what state or shape it may be in.
Because it’s the only body you’ve got.