Fibromyalgia brings with it a lot of guilt. We feel guilty that we are struggling. We feel guilty that we cannot always do certain things. And we feel guilty for asking for help from others.
Guilt is a horrible emotion. It can wear us down and greatly affect self-confidence and self-esteem. You may disagree but I believe guilt is mostly a product of setting ourselves standards that are exceedingly high; expectations that are sometimes unobtainable.
If we keep thinking that we should be able to do things or, equally, that we should not require help then guilt will slowly start to creep in.
One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change
When I was first signed off from work I felt a lot of guilt. I hated that I couldn’t work and I felt like I was letting everyone down, including myself. When you think about it, it’s a terribly unfair way to think.
I did not choose to have this health condition. I did not choose to stay off work.
It was a consequence of my circumstances that I had absolutely no say in what-so-ever. Fibromyalgia is not something I have control over. I can try as hard as I can to improve my situation but ultimately this illness can be unpredictable.
I had a moment after speaking to my mum a few weeks back. It was one of those lightbulb moments for me. It made me question, “why should I feel guilty over something out with my control?” I figured a lot of the guilt was stemming from the fact that I looked okay.
If I had a broken leg would I still feel that same level of guilt? It would probably be there to a degree. However, I doubt I would be feeling the same level of guilt because there would be an end date. I would know that after X amount of weeks my leg would be healed.
I wished that the same applied to chronic illness but it doesn’t. A broken leg is also universally understood. Chronic illness, sadly, is not.
So I changed my priorities. Work was no longer top of the list. Financial worry took a back seat. It took a lot to make me feel this way.
I can’t even pinpoint how I did this but I made the decision to let go of what I have no control over. Instead, I chose to invest my energy into what I could control.
Ultimately, I decided to put myself first for a change. More specifically, I needed to prioritize my health as, at the end of the day, there is nothing more important. The amazing thing about this decision was that guilt left me. I managed to let go of it.
We don’t get control over a lot of the things that happen to us in life but we have a choice about how we deal with them.
Part of the change was to focus on each day as it came. I have stopped thinking about the past. Thinking about whether I could have done anything differently to have stopped this massive flare was wasted energy, for example. I have stopped worrying about the future because it’s something I can’t predict.
Instead, I focus on the here and now. I try to live my life by making the best decisions for me that will hopefully help me to feel better. After all, this is something I have control over.
If I am fatigued, I rest. If I am hungry, I choose to eat foods that nourish my body. If I have the energy, I will go for a walk to strengthen my muscles.
The thinking is that basic. A product of this, though, has been a step closer to acceptance. I have taken the mindset of “what will be will be”.
Now I am human and therefore I am far from perfect. Acceptance is, of course, a journey and not a destination. I will still have those bad days where negative emotions creep in.
However, the bigger picture is much more positive and it is brighter, despite inevitable setbacks.
Is guilt a problem for you? Is there anything you can choose to let go of? Let me know in the comments below.
- 10 strategies I use to improve mental health
- 5 easy ways to practise self-care when you are chronically ill
- Having a positive mental attitude will not cure your Fibromyalgia
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