Taking Control & Influencing Change
Time seems to have sped up around me this year. It’s almost as though I blink and suddenly a fortnight has flown by. Thankfully, I have been doing productive things with my time, cooking up more and more capabilities with which to improve this life of mine.
I have stepped up my focus from simply cooking healthy food to include more household cleaning. It’s amazing how many months zipped by whilst I was getting to this point. The routine of planning meals, shopping and the actual cooking was a huge leap from years of inactivity and uncertainty. I had to create those skills from scratch. This began long ago when I started learning to manage my pain, followed by strengthening my body and mind to be able to cope with the activity.
Oh so worn out, but loving my new recliner!
It takes a lot of effort to learn how to not allow things to frustrate me. There’s no point getting angry at the things that need doing because it never gets them done. I have to take responsibility for my emotional wellbeing during every minute of every day. How I think about and respond to life and its challenges is all in my head, all up to me.
Not so long ago, such a thought was terrifying. It’s hard to let go of that victim mentality that has a person believe that much of what happens in their life is the result of external forces. With enough diligent work and openness to understanding, it’s possible to switch this perspective and take ownership of our lives.
Sure, CRPS happened, but I don’t have to be its bitch.
There are plenty of new age schools of spiritual thought on this topic. For me, however, it’s far more immediate and physical than anything to do with life, the creation of life and how in the Universe, the Universe came to exist anyway.
When I claim responsibility for how I feel and how I react to difficulties (without wasting energy blaming the difficulty for existing) then I feel power. I feel the power to change it. I see how every situation can be interpreted in a bazillion different ways and how each interpretation can be coloured by personal history and speedy assumptions.
None of this has anything to do with the difficulty itself, it’s all in my head. The size of the problem is up to me. The level of upset that it causes me is up to me, as is how much time I allow it to effect my emotions.
Think of a time when something has happened and a friend or family member got particularly upset and yet you couldn’t quite understand why they were so bothered about whatever it was. Got an instance in mind? Next, please consider this:
Even great tragedies are different levels of tragic depending on personal involvement in them. I don’t mean that tragic circumstances are comparable, I mean in terms of how upset we feel, within ourselves. A person who lost all of their family in a natural disaster is going to feel a lot differently about the event than a person who was unrelated to anybody effected by the same disaster. It’s the same circumstance from different perspectives, that’s all.
On a smaller scale, it’s not very difficult to see how this sort of realisation can help a person learn to moderate their reactions and in turn, their emotions. If an angry person (who is running late) and a calm person (who is enjoying a day off work) are stuck in the same traffic jam, the angry person isn’t going to get out of it any faster, but they will certainly have a much more frustrating experience than the calm person. Same circumstance, different perspectives. All that the angry person has to do to become the calm person is become aware that they have the choice to do so. A choice that is far easier to ignore than to recognise and far easier to apply in small situations than in huge ones.
The recognition means work, you see. Once you begin to recognise that you have the power to look at things differently, once you become aware, well then you have to figure out the how to actually get yourself to the viewing platform of a healthier perspective. That’s the hard part. That’s the part that nobody can figure out but you.
Some time ago, I decided to consider all sources of upset a chance for recognition. Chronic pain enlightened me to the fact that I can influence my experience of life’s challenges. I do live with constant physical pain and fatigue, after all, every moment of every day is influenced by this. I have experienced the loss of my hopes and dreams, the loss of my independence, the loss of control over my movements, over my clarity of thought. It’s a lot of loss and at times I have been down, very down. Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there.
By battling the mental side of all of this pain and loss, I have been influencing the physical side. Much like the physical side starting messing up the mental side to begin with. Without recognition of this mind/body interconnectedness, I’m not sure that I would have come as far as I have toward functional coping.
I still experience a lot of pain, fatigue and the myriad of symptoms associated with CRPS. I am only coping better because I am looking at them differently and the view is less catastrophic from here. Same situation, different perspective.
These realisations slowly become clearer and appear beautiful to me and so I find it fascinating that they have been born out of suffering.
I can honestly say that I am grateful for my new perspective on living. Until recently, I never thought that I’d thank my CRPS for anything, but there it is. The proverbial silver lining. Past Caf would never have believed in such a thing.
There is a reason that I haven’t been blogging as regularly as I used to and it’s that I have been necessarily focused on what I think of as my “rehab”. The extra activity requires extra pain management (Feldenkrais, baths, stretches, rests) and after all that, the Earth has usually turned through most of the hours in the day.
I’m making great strides, but those still come with painful prices to be worked through…Any night now, I am going to sleep through without waking to the sensation of cockroaches having an ice skating party under my skin. Any night now. I have faith that my nervous system will continue to adapt to increasing movement levels.
If you do happen to be missing regular posts, please join me on Facebook or Twitter for more frequent, less involved updates. Or, you can always pick up a copy of the current issue of Frankie magazine and check out the Everybody Has A Story section. I am still so very excited that an article about me and CRPS is featured in a real, proper, magazine. Check it out! Much thanks to those who have read it and those who have sent me such lovely messages.
Happy weekend to you, Audy. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope that there are smiles on and all around you.
Love & Learning, Always Learning,