What gift(s) have you received from your particular mind-body illness?
For me, migraines provided escape. If I was feeling overwhelmed by life, a migraine gave me a reason to go to bed and stay there awhile. I was able to avoid facing whatever it was that felt like “too much.” Having a migraine gave me a valid excuse for some alone time.
Though the answers to this question are varied and nuanced, I’ve come across some common themes in my work with clients:
–A reason to say no
–A reason to slow down
–Attention that a person doesn’t know how to otherwise ask for
–Connection, sometimes in the form of finding others who suffer similarly
–A way to frame a life lacking in meaning
–A distraction from questions like: What am I doing with my life? Am I on the right track?
–Avoidance of uncomfortable social engagements, tough conversations, or people we’d rather not interact with
These aren’t conscious decisions we’ve made. No one chooses to experience pain and anxiety, brain fog and fatigue. The brain is simply creating what it thinks we need.
When we view pain this way, our symptoms become signposts on the path of personal growth.
Alone time is crucial for me, and I’ve learned to make it happen even though I sometimes fear it makes me seem lazy or selfish. I’ve challenged myself to have conversations that feel daunting. My nervous system is learning that these things are not dangerous..
Are you able to view your symptoms through this lens? Are you able to identify a gift or two they’ve given you? What small step can you take toward meeting the need they’re helping you with? Every little step brings you more in alignment with your truth, and furthers the process of teaching your brain that you’ve got this.