Living A Whole-Hearted Life Despite Illness
If you missed part 2, You Are Not Your Illness, So Who Are You?, you can read it here.
Living A Whole-Hearted Life Despite Illness – Most of us have whole-hearted pushed through a bad pain day and felt like giving up.- Whole-hearted means with your “whole heart”. How many of us have ever done anything with our whole being involved? From the beginning, you pursued a passion for something with all that you truly were at the time. You hoped, you believed and you trusted. Most of us with a chronic illness have whole-hearted pushed through a bad day and felt like giving up, but didn’t. We seen it through no matter how rough it got!
That is really what we all want – we want to be satisfied with ourselves. It is not about material things, although the world would have you think so. If that were the case, why do people who seem to have it all together like celebrities, succumb to drugs, alcohol, suicide or some other downward spiraling situation? They didn’t have to worry about money, so what made them so unhappy? Many think the answer is material because this is what they lack. They blame others for being weak over it, but the reason is deeper than that. They didn’t feel validated or valued.
When you look outside of yourself for validation, you may find it. More likely, you will find a rollercoaster where sometimes you are in favor with others and sometimes you are at their mercy. That’s no way to live your entire life.
If you desire to live a full and whole-hearted life, it’s about your imperfections and embracing them. We have to get started by studying on and cultivating: courage, compassion and connection in your life.
When people think of courage, they talk about soldiers, first responders and those who work in dangerous professions. These people do have courage and bravery. They exhibit “heroism”. It is the state of putting your life on the line for someone else. For many, it is the mandate of their job to be heroic. It takes a special person to volunteer for this type of courageous service.
The courage spoken of here is the ordinary kind that most people don’t take the time to sow into their lives anymore. It is the courage to stand up for someone else, to show your vulnerability where it might be ridiculed or to sympathize with someone else. This exemplifies the everyday courage that can impact the lives of every human being you come in contact with. That’s power, isn’t it?
Courage to be who you are allows others to do the same. What gets in the way of courage? Often it is shame or embarrassment or guilt. You want to raise your hand and ask for clarification in class, but don’t because everyone else seems to “get it”. There are those preconceived notions again. You think “everyone knows what’s going on except me.” When you show courage and fight for yourself and raising your hand, others will follow suit. By the end of class, everyone is on the same page.
But courage for us that have a chronic illness means getting up every day no matter how bad we feel and we continue to push and fight for a life we deserve. It means having the courage to accept our illness and find happiness in our life despite it.
This is a tough one. How many of us jump on the bandwagon of blaming another because everyone else is doing it? No one wants to be singled out as different. If society had its way, we’d all look, act and think the same. With the absence of compassion we lose a part of our humanity.
What is compassion anyway? It is acknowledging the light and dark places in our lives (mostly the dark places, we don’t mind if people stare into the light.) Then we are free to be there for someone else when they need a listening ear. Instead of holding a mistake over someone else, we can let them into our vulnerable places by sharing an experience that could help them. It gives way to understanding. We are taken into the breach with someone else without judgment, only to share their experience for their sake.
Compassion also works when coupled with boundaries. Holding people accountable for their actions shows a desire to help them to achieve their best. It helps you to separate what they do or don’t do from who they are. The opposite is often the case when we “shame and blame”.
Have you ever ridiculed someone for something they did? It could be a friend, a spouse or even your child. In sports, shaming is supposed to toughen up players by making them take criticism to whip them into shape. It attacks who they are – their identity. Instead of helping it hurts them.
We often crave compassion from others because we live with a chronic illness and when we don’t have it or understanding from others, it leaves us feeling down and misunderstood. When we are not believed that our illness could truly be taking over our life it can leave some of us feeling hopeless. I think those of us with a chronic illness have an extreme amount of compassion because the illness teaches us to have it.
Social media is no excuse for true connection. It is communicating with others but not really getting to “know” them. That takes effort, courage and compassion. From miles away, you can say you would help another but what would you do when actually faced with a situation? Want to develop great relationships with coworkers, family, spouses and friends? Practice getting and staying connected. This can be hard when living with a chronic illness because we don’t know how we’ll feel one day to the next.
When we take the time to invest in another life, our own lives are enhanced. What does it take to invest? It could be asking someone about their family. Show interest and actively listen when another speaks. See yourself in their situation. Suspend judgment as you listen.
Connection also means offering help. Did you know that there is a stigma placed on getting help? Just look at the number of mentally ill people on the streets. Families are reluctant to admit they have mental issues for fear of how others will treat them. In the same way, people who offer help can feel in some way superior to those that ask for it. This prevents them from getting the help they need when the time comes.
To live freely, we have to be able to embrace all areas of who we are. When you can accept it, then asking for help seems logical and necessary to live wholeheartedly and with purpose. And, you give as much as yourself as you reasonably can with an illness, to help others without thinking any less of them for needing a hand.
Join us next week as we wrap things up and discuss “5 Tips For Living The Imperfect Life With An Chronic Illness“
Do you know someone who would like “Living A Whole-Hearted Life Despite Illness” Please share it with them. Thanks!