The 3 Secrets To Living A Love-Filled, Happy, Energized Life – Despite Illness
It was just 2 years I started writing publicly about my experience of being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. When diagnosed with multiple sclerosis I was lost, like so many are. But I soon found that taking control over my own care and lifestyle was critical if I was to become a chronic wellness superhero. You can read my thoughts about it at that time.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I spoke to a crowd of 300+ people about my relationship with that diagnosis. I wanted to share with you some of the insights I have compiled over the last 2 years and which I shared with the audience at the Take Back Your Health Conference.
First, let me say that I know many of you reading this either don’t have a chronic condition or do, but don’t think about it. For that I applaud you. Truthfully, as each day goes by, I think of mine less.
Yet I was visiting a facebook group this weekend where the topic for discussion was anxiety over the uncertainty of living with multiple sclerosis. The concerns, anxiety and depression expressed were heart-felt. Yet, I couldn’t relate. I know it is easy to sink into depression, anxiety, and worry when bad things happen to us (no matter what the form). I’ve been there. In my 30s I suffered severe depression and anxiety over all in life that I could not control. So you might think that I would do the same with MS – the ultimate uncontrollable situation. But I don’t.
This doesn’t make me better than others, it just makes me happier. And I see it time and again with clients. The difference is stark. Some live “under” their diagnosis, while others live “above” it. I highly recommend the latter approach. When living “above” your diagnosis, dis-ease, illness or circumstance, you live in a place of love, potential, joy, fulfillment, contentment and peace. Who doesn’t want that?
But how do you live and love in that space?
Through my own experience, my studies and by working with clients, I have discovered some secrets to living a thriving, fulfilled, energized life in spite of the label a doctor has handed down. Today I want to share 3 of them.
1. Don’t own the diagnosis
I was lucky to have my naturopath correct me when I told her I had MS. She said “oh no, don’t ever say ‘you have it.’ Don’t own it. You’ve been diagnosed, but that is just a label.” I was perplexed at the time, but grateful for the paradigm shift.
Whether its MS, diabetes, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, high blood pressure or any other chronic condition, a fulfilling, happy life starts with not owning the diagnosis. Whatever diagnosis a doctor has informed you about, acknowledge the diagnosis, but don’t become it.
Instead of saying I have [insert your condition], say I have been diagnosed with [insert your condition]. Or if you haven’t been diagnosed, say I experience fatigue, instead of saying I am fatigued.
I know this may sound like semantics. But words matter.
Your cells respond to every word you think and express. They are listening and taking direction from you.
When we tell ourselves and others that we are something, we become it at the cellular level. As much as I discuss my MS diagnosis to help others, it is not me. I am so many other things and that is what I focus on.
You are so many other things than a disease, a symptom or a condition.
Consider this: I am the picture of perfect health. MS is a footnote in my life. The book, however, is rich, funny, interesting and full of love. When we disown the dis-ease, we get to write our own book. The power is ours.
2. Take action
Even as we disown a condition, we must take action. I meet lots of folks who are “ignoring” their condition. They go on as if nothing is different when it is. The result is unhappiness, something feeling out of place, guilt, frustration and on and on. All this when the person simply wants peace and happiness.
Taking action to make yourself feel better (over and above any diagnosis) is critical to living “above” your diagnosis.
A few years ago, a friend asked me why I was making all these changes in my life after the diagnosis? She asked because there is this “rule” that says you shouldn’t make any changes in your life for the 1st year after being diagnosed.
Well I don’t know who set down this rule but here is my response: if I were to continue to do the same thing and expect a different result, you would call me insane, right? (Thanks Mr. Einstein). So if the way I was living my life led me to the moment of the diagnosis, why would I continue to do the same thing? No thanks.
That’s why I told me friend this: the worst case scenario is the changes I am making leads me to feel better, reach my ideal weight (40 pounds lighter), and have more focus, clarity and energy. Best case scenario is I stop MS in its tracks. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. It also sounds sane.
3. Walk the line of acknowledging but not dwelling
So far I’ve suggested that you don’t own the illness but you take action. Yes, this is a fine line, especially when you begin to walk the journey. But it’s not as hard as it sounds. Acknowledge what the doctor has told you. Take action. But don’t dwell.
Dwelling on a diagnosis, symptoms or “your bad luck” places your “circumstance” front and center in your life. You become it. Remember whatever this thing is that is in your life now (the uninvited guest I call it), it is a foot note. So pick up the pen and write the book, just remember its a footnote.
You may be asking how at this point. How do you live “above” and not “below” the condition? The answer is beyond the scope of this one article. However, here are a few suggestions.
- Acknowledge that you can’t control the disease (or life for that matter).
- Discover how you can view the condition in a way that honors your mind and body.
- Don’t turn your body into a war zone. Marianne writes “the last thing a sick person needs is something else to hate about themselves.”
Do you have any tips to share on living fully with a diagnosis? Please share them in the comments below.
With love and light,
P.S. There are many exercises and path to help you own yourself, disown the condition, take action and walk the line. If you would like to explore this further, I invite you to explore these concepts in depth with me in a From Fatigued to Fabulous Breakthrough Session.