I recently received an email from a 30 year old woman living with Crohn’s Disease. One thing she wrote is so universal it deserves its own blog post:
“I often struggle mentally with the disease in that if I pretend like nothing is wrong with me and act totally normal, then maybe I will feel that way.”
How many of us have played this game with ourselves? I know I have! In fact, this is probably one of the most common and normal feelings for anyone dealing with a chronic illness and really any personal problem at all. It can be so hard to accept ourselves for who we truly are. Whether we have Crohn’s Disease, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, anger or any other trait we deem negative, we tend to ignore it. If we can just hide it from ourselves and others, then maybe it will just go away. We all know it just doesn’t work this way. Personally, I spent 10 years pretending like I didn’t have Crohn’s Disease and anxiety. I kept thinking I would outgrow it all and one day I would feel better and normal. I also thought if I didn’t let people know there was something wrong with me then maybe it would all go away. All this did was make me sicker and cause more fear and anxiety.
Through the years I have practiced 5 self-acceptance thought patterns that I would like to share with you.
Embrace yourself, then love yourself anyway. This is vital. Above all, we must embrace ourselves for who we are so that we can start to love ourselves. This sounds cliche, but being honest with ourselves is the best gift we can give ourselves. As soon as I started to accept that I will have Crohn’s Disease and anxiety my whole life I was able to look at those things as a part of who I am and not something extraneous. Then, I started the journey towards loving those parts about myself and seeing them as things to be grateful for.
Normal doesn’t exist. Whatever your definition of “normal” is, I have some news for you. No one is normal. No one has it figured out. I still get trapped in this cycle of looking at other people- co-workers, fellow yogis, friends- thinking they are so normal. Nothing is wrong with them, but everything is wrong with me. These thought patterns are not only harmful to us, but they are simply not true. It’s a made-up narrative we play in our minds.
Live your own life and no one else’s. In a world of social media everyone is only posting the best part of their lives for us to see. This is so important to keep in mind when scrolling through your feed. Stop thinking your life is inferior to anyone else’s. Stop thinking you are the only one dealing with something. Literally everyone is struggling in their own way. Work on being grateful for your beautiful life and live it fully. Remember, even during your worst Crohn’s flare-up, someone has it worse.
You are not alone. This is so important to remember. You are never, ever, ever alone. Even during your worst flare-up or most depressed day, someone else if feeling or has felt exactly what you are going through. The best thing you can do for yourself during those times is talk about how you are feeling to people close to you. You will see how similar you are to everyone around you. They may not have felt a Crohn’s flare-up, but they have felt scared, hopeless, fed up, and annoyed.
You are exactly where you need to be. You’re not supposed to be any further along on your journey than where you are right now. If you still haven’t accepted your disease, that is okay. If you still have tons of negatives thoughts about yourself, that is okay. Give yourself a break. You are doing just fine where you are right now. All you can do for yourself is work on a positive thought or action every day.