When you know something is wrong but results tell you otherwise you may well find yourself on a path of desperation; tirelessly searching for a diagnosis. A label to tell you what you knew all along – that, somewhere along the line, your health got out of sync and now you’re dealing with the consequences.
Of course, the naming of medical conditions is there for a reason; they give the medical world a chance to distinguish the chronic from the acute; the serious from the not so serious…they also lay the foundations for a generic approach to ‘treating’ the problem at hand. But, psychologically, is this boxed perspective anything more than a hindrance?
It may validate your health complaints; removing any lasting suspicions of psychosomatic neurosis but there’s a real danger that you start to create one very limited, predefined path. A path that lures you into a new identity; one shaped by the characteristics of the condition, with little hope of healing or recovery. And who’s to say the label is even right?
If you’re freshly diagnosed, you may find yourself all-consumed by this new label. But, if your mindfulness practice is strong it will see you through this difficult time and give you the space you need to sit with all the uncomfortable feelings.
Most importantly, it will remind you that you are not your body and you are not your mind. Who you are sits deep within and it’s unchanging. Not like this suit of organs, skin and bones that we all inhabit.
It may take some time coming to terms with your diagnosis, but the important thing is that you stay kind to yourself. You are dealing with this in your own way and that is okay.
A little bit of sorrow is fine
When I was first diagnosed, I felt bad that I wasn’t a stronger person. That I was feeling so full of self-pity. It was like I had already given up.
But it’s all okay. You don’t need to beat yourself up for feeling sad, for crying, for moaning to friends and family. You are allowed to feel like this.
However, there does come a point when you have to get over the wallowing and realise that you’re no different to where you were the day before you got the diagnosis. It’s a label. A label created by another human being in a world that has a lot more to learn about life and the intricacies of the human body. It’s no more than that.
Don’t lose faith
If your condition is chronic, you probably feel like you’ve been given a life sentence. If it’s autoimmune, you may also have the word ‘degenerative’ ringing around in your head. But, again, this is all information from an industry that still has a lot to learn about the human body.
It’s also an industry that focuses on chemical fixes rather than treating the root cause. It’s an industry where the role of diet is given almost no credit, and where, up until recently, the neurological benefits of meditation were poo poo’d. Now, there’s a wealth of science out there demonstrating the life-changing effect this simple practice has on neuroplasticity and, in turn, physical and psychological health.
It is what it is
You may have lots of thoughts buzzing around on the unfairness of it all: ‘If only this hadn’t of happened’ or ‘It wasn’t meant to be like this, I was supposed to be doing this job or that sport…’ The fact of that matter is, that while you can control your future to an extent, you can’t control everything that life serves you. We don’t get to pick and choose the parts we play.
So, it’s here and you need to make friends with it. You may not feel like it but a whole new opportunity has opened up and if you work with your challenges using mindfulness, gratitude and self-love you’ll notice that life starts to unfold in ways you wouldn’t expect.
You’ll find that everything becomes precious; from the cool breeze on a sunny day to your morning cup of tea with a good friend. You’ll start to realise how hard your body works just to keep you happy. And you’ll learn to truly love yourself, with gratitude for the body you’ve been given.
If you haven’t done so already, start meditating. I can’t emphasise this enough – it really is a life-changing practice and, if practiced daily, you will start to notice the difference. You can find guidance on daily practice here.
You dû have a choice
There’s a lot of research out there to show that mind really can influence matter so the language you use is incredibly important when creating a positive mindset for healing. When it comes to taking on the identity of a condition, words like ‘feel’ and ‘have’ can be very powerful in reinforcing the symptoms you are experiencing.
One technique used in an increasingly popular neural training programme is to replace verbs with the word ‘dû’. So, you are ‘dûing’ stress rather than you ‘are’ stressed. Or in the case of an actual condition, you don’t have Hashimoto’s, you’re ‘dûing’ Hashimoto’s.
While ‘dû’ is pronounced the same as ‘do’, the accent in the ‘dû’ is representative of unintentional and unconscious action. This subtle change in language completely reframes the situation. You don’t need to be controlled by the condition when you have a conscious choice in the matter. From personal experience, the effects of practising this daily can be profound if combined with other forms of neural training.
It is not who you are and it never will be
So, there’s a lot you can do to work your way through this. We all have the power to make positive choices for the better and remaining kind to yourself is number 1.Take a step back and remember who you really are. You are more than just a label so start your journey by saying goodbye to this man-made stamp you’ve been given and recognising the power you have to create your own reality.