In order to come to terms with living with this condition I have been forced to reassess some of my core beliefs and values. These core beliefs and values develop and are reinforced over time. Some of them are absorbed from our society or culture without us ever really thinking about whether they are right for us. But we can choose our beliefs and values, discard the ones that aren’t working for us and develop new ones that work better. It takes awareness and choice. What are my guiding principles? What is most important to me? Could my life be better if I chose something else?
It used to be important to me to believe that I could do anything if I set my mind to it. I valued determination, drive and momentum. Instead of discarding this value I’ve allowed it to evolve. Now I believe that almost anything is possible with time and patience and small steps taken one at a time.
I used to value independence really highly. It was important to me to be capable of everything involved in looking after myself. It was important for me not to need anybody. Illness has taught me that needing others isn’t a bad thing; it’s brought me closer to my loved ones and allowed me to develop deeper relationships. Now I value interdependence, caring and love. I’ve also realised that we all have unique talents to bring to the melting pot. Why expend loads of energy trying to be good at everything when it’s so much easier doing the things that you’re good at and enjoy? Now I value the help that I get from others, especially when they are doing something that they are good at and enjoy! I also value giving and receiving. Life is so much more rewarding if we are willing to gratefully accept what others have to offer and find ways of giving what we can.
I used to value excitement and adventure. Now instead of seeking thrills I aim to open myself up to experience joy. There is great pleasure to be gained from the little things in life that are always around me, when I open my heart and let them in. Excitement and adventure may grab our attention allowing us a fleeting sense of focus and here and now presence along with a peak of pleasurable hormones. However we can choose to pay attention to the here and now. We can cultivate mindfulness and gratitude and enjoy a steady sense of contentment and joy.
I used to value entertainment that was intellectually stimulating or emotionally challenging, even leisure was about learning, developing and growing. Now I value entertainment that is relaxing; easy; nice. I still value growth and development but I have learned to understand the importance of allowing myself to rest and relax as well.
What values and beliefs have you changed to help you adapt to your condition?
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