Self-help is hard. Doing all the things we need to do to optimise our health takes a lot of motivation. It’s not easy to always make the right choice for our health and wellbeing. But it can become a lot easier when you have a vision for a life that you want to live, when you can imagine all your efforts bearing wonderful fruit!
A vision can be a dangerous thing though. When life is so difficult now it can be tempting to defer gratification and put everything into a future that could be a long time in coming, forgetting to pay attention to getting the most out of life now. But motivation is impossible to sustain without a few rewards along the way. Life lived for a future will often lead to depression, or at the least regular explosions of grief and frustration. Another dangerous vision is one that is all about ‘getting your life back’. Remember that the old life resulted in ill health! A vision for a great future life needs to encompass everything that you are learning about living a balanced healthy life. It also needs to be something that relates to your authentic desires and innate talents, not something you got good at purely because it seemed to be of value to the outside world, or because it met other people’s expectations of what it means to be successful.
I encourage my clients to develop a 2 step vision. The first step is a vision of 80% recovery. How could life be wonderful at a level of 80% recovery? A life where you feel healthy and well as long as you still pay attention to illness management and avoiding exertion? How could you express your unique talents doing things that you love in an easy, effortless manner that wouldn’t involve exertion? What would you want in your life? What would a relaxed, effortless, rewarding day look like? What would you be feeling?
The main reason for encouraging an 80% recovery vision is that it motivates adaptation. Determination alone isn’t sufficient to overcome illnesses like ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia, in fact determination often only serves to exacerbate the problems. Improved health and well-being only come from adaptation!
Our new vision needs to adapt to what illness has to teach us. As we learn to overcome challenges we grow and change and we need to allow our inspiration to adapt to that growth. What’s more, chronic illness gives us a unique opportunity to reassess what is truly important and meaningful to us. We don’t have to continue carrying other peoples’ expectations and values if they don’t fit! Having to step out of the rat race allows us to take a step back and fully explore what we really want out of life from a fresh authentic perspective.
Another reason for working with an 80% vision to start with, is that we need to remember to focus on getting the most out of today. The things we will need to learn to live a wonderful life adapted to a certain level of illness, are things that are going to make the here and now better too! We need to be motivated to explore new ways of being happy despite limited energy and a vision of full and vibrant health misses that important stage of growth!
Once you have an inspiring 80% recovery vision you might want to consider how you would improve on it once you get your full health. And once you get closer to your 80% vision you definitely need to be visioning a life of full and vibrant health. But if you want to find a safe level of motivation, one that will encourage you to adapt and work towards optimal health, an 80% vision is likely to be the most effective!
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