Managing your chronic health condition is more than merely responding to the specific needs of your illness. It includes listening to and honoring the needs of all of your internal systems in conjunction with your condition. Your body, mind and emotions are all key contributors to your wellness that, if neglected, can be hijacked into an unhealthy response cycle by your illness. When you begin to notice your body demanding your attention—through pain, fatigue or other symptoms—you can be sure your emotions are also in need of acknowledgement as feelings of fear, doubt or resistance arise. To compensate for these feelings of uncertainty, your mind instinctively scrambles to create a narrative that gives you a feeling of control over what is happening to you. And as your key systems are forced into hyperdrive to respond to your mind’s story about your condition, it can be hard for you to remember the fundamental truth that’s at play here.
You are not your illness.
Your illness is merely a passenger on this ride called Your Life. If you look at the big picture, your chronic condition is a piece of who you are but it doesn’t need to define you. You are made up of genes and beliefs and friendships and adventures that all contribute to the identity of who you are. Having a chronic illness—a health condition that is long-term, usually progressive and often invisible—can dominate your identity and drive you into an unhealthy response cycle by consuming your thoughts and energy until you lose sight of your wellness and of your self. One of the best ways to maintain the relationship between your illness and your identity is through the practice of self-management.
Proactive self-management is a powerful tool towards reclaiming your complete self and living in balance with your chronic health condition. When you self-manage, you pay attention to tasks and skills in three categories of activities: your health condition, your daily life, and your emotional health. This model allows you take a holistic view of your wellness in relationship to your chronic condition, with tools to evaluate and adjust any areas in your life where you are out of balance. Proactive self-management is a self-paced skillbuilding approach to wellness that creates a framework for managing your illness as a component of your complete self. It encourages you to listen to your body, mind and emotions as a source of wisdom, not fear.
To get started on your self-management path, it’s helpful to take inventory of the activities of your life and assess your level of satisfaction. Are you satisfied with the quality of your career, social life, family relationships? Be sure to check in with your body, mind and emotions for the complete answer. If you’re not satisfied, what adjustments can you make within the boundaries of your chronic condition that will increase your satisfaction? What do your key systems need? Which skills or tools do you need to acquire to make these adjustments?
It’s also important that you take an honest inventory of your emotional wellness to understand how feelings of anger, frustration or defeat may be coloring your ability to integrate your illness into your identity. Are you reacting to your chronic condition, or taking a proactive approach? Which worries and feelings are keeping you up at night? Are your worries about the present, or the future? How can you take the charge out of these beliefs so you can be present with your condition as a piece of your complete self, instead of an all-consuming identity?
As a personal coach, I help my clients assess their challenges and release the barriers to proactive self-management. We work at your pace to dig deep into the emotional consequences of illness, incorporate new skills, and set goals to reconcile your chronic health condition with your definition of wellness. You can learn to listen to the wisdom of your body, mind and emotions to define a life that is more than just your chronic health condition.
To learn more about proactive self-management of your chronic health condition, schedule your free pre-coaching session by emailing me at email@example.com