Living with a chronic illness often feels like an endless battle against your own body.
But what if your body is not the enemy?
The thing is, living with any kind of chronic illness is extremely challenging for most people at many different levels.
And that’s just on the “good” days. There are many other days that are not so good at all. In fact, they can be downright terrible and painful. And for many, this is how they live – day after day, year after year.
Never getting better for more than a few days at a time. Not able to live without pain even after taking pain medications. Feeling betrayed by their own body as their disease continues to progress and their life is at a standstill.
You see, it’s not just the physical limitations and daily struggles take a toll on most people. And it’s also not just about how they are feeling inside their body, it’s like feeling like their spirit has been crushed.
Many don’t know what else they can do, whom to turn to.
And so they continue to remain on what I called a “disease merry-go-round” unable to make much progress.
It’s not your fault
We have been conditioned to believe that our body has in some way “betrayed” us.
And it is getting in the way of us living our life the way that we want to. We are told that our body is weak, frail, dangerous, defective, broken (take your pick). We are taught from an early age to ignore minor symptoms or simply medicate them away.
It’s easy to start seeing your body as defective—like it has betrayed you or turned against you.
Is it any wonder that when you do get a diagnosis, you feel like you are at “war” with your body?
And as you stop listening to the messages that you body is constantly sending you, you lose touch with its innate wisdom as you grow up.
We also develop negative beliefs about our body that stops us from supporting it’s innate healing capabilities. We become disconnected from our body and can no longer make out what it needs anymore. And this keeps us from learning how to take care of the only “home” that we have – our body.
Would your body choose you?
Think of it this way.
What if your body had a choice about who would own it?
And what would your body say about you?
As Jacquie Sharples shares from the point of view of our body telling us how it feels in a letter in her excellent book “If Your Body Could Talk: letters from your body to you” , –
We’re a team. It’s not all about you, your career, your social life and your needs. I have needs too. I know we can fix this. I know we can make things better.
Please don’t leave it too long.
Please don’t put me on the bottom of your to-do list.
Please don’t take me for granted.
I won’t be here forever.
I am a gift that was given to you.
A gift you only get once.
Love always, Your Body
This makes you think differently about how you treat your body, isn’t it?
But it’s not just about only when you are dealing with an illness, it’s about your relationship with your body. It’s about how having a more healthy relationship with it. Period.
Change the way you see
So where do you even begin?
First, stop seeing your body as the enemy.
Realise that, despite the illness, your body allows you to experience all of life’s beauty, joy and wonders. It works hard 24/7 to keep you alive and functioning. See your body as your loyal companion on the journey towards healing—a friend who is doing the best it can given the circumstances.
Appreciate all that it allows you to do, from going place to place, to smelling a flower, hugging your child or baking a cake.
These moments are all gifts to be treasured, not taken for granted.
Second, understand that your body has not betrayed you.
There are various reasons why your body is behaving in this manner. Reasons why you have developed these symptoms and these illnesses. Make it your responsibility to find out the real, underlying reasons.
Change your story, change your life
Now that you know that your body is not your enemy, you are free to rewrite the story you tell yourself about your body.
This starts with changing the negative stories we tell ourselves about our bodies and illnesses. Our thoughts create our reality, and repeated negative thoughts become limiting beliefs that affect our actions. However, if you believe your body is defective, it can becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Unfortunately, you may not make your health a priority or care for yourself properly because of this.
You see, many of us live based on outdated stories and thought patterns formed in childhood or during traumatic experiences.
Above all, you have the power to rewrite your story.
Over the years of coaching many women I have found that this is one of the most important and effective way that they finally find peace and healing from within. Based on this experience I have developed the C.A.R.E. model in my coaching programme to help my clients deal with this.
The C.A.R.E. model for coping with a chronic illness
The C.A.R.E. model stands for
C – Create an empowering self-care plan. Self-care is about tuning in to what your body truly needs and being kind to yourself.
A – Access your inner wisdom by listening to your body’s symptoms, messages and intuition.
R – Replenish and restore balance through nourishing foods, rest, yoga and other practices.
E – Embrace stress with ease and softness; change your perspective on stress and response to it.
With this model, you’ll start to see your body as capable and resilient, with an innate ability to heal.
Having a consistent self care practice is a key component of any healing journey. And creating an empowering self-care plan is the first step. However, it’s not just about massages and spa days, but creating awareness of your needs in each moment.
Start by doing these 3 things today-
There are more steps to the C.A.R.E. model that build on creating a customised self-care plan such as improving body awareness and embracing stress with softness rather than fighting it.
If you would like to know more about this, click here.
As Donna Ashworth has said in the poem “Wave the white flag” (from the book “To The Women: Words to live by” )-
There are many choices available to us women in this life, but when it comes to your body, there are only two:
If you would only allow it to shine through and work its magic.
Your body, my friends, has but one job, to see you safely through this adventure of life, to allow your spirit to reach its potential.
That is it.
If you are on the path of not accepting your body, you are in for a very long battle, against an enemy you have no power to defeat.
Nature, time, biology, fate.
You don’t have the weapons to fight those powers.
Wave the white flag.
It is then that your life will truly begin.
I want you know that you are not alone on this journey.
Your body is not your enemy, but your ally. And making peace means with your body allows you to open the door to receiving your body’s guidance. You change the narrative from one of betrayal to one of trust.
There is a path forward, and I’m here to walk it with you. Let’s change the story together.