We can all be our own worst enemies. And arthritis sufferers seem to be especially prone to this. This can sometimes occur because we feel guilty for being slower and taking time for ourselves. After all, so many times you have to beg out of activities and social events because you are experiencing too much pain or you're tired.
However, we must realize that we have to be kind to ourselves and only we can do that for ourselves. But in this incredibly competitive society of ours, how many of us truly feel good about ourselves?
It seems that feeling worthy and feeling good about ourselves is a fleeting thing especially as we need to feel special and above average to feel worthy. This feeling of unworthiness is amplified many times over for the chronically-ill person who sometimes feels below everyone because she feels pain and is tired all the time.
It is very hard to feel good about yourself if you are feeling down and in pain all the time. We must also realize that pain equals stress, regardless of what else we are experiencing in our lives. So, given our situation as a chronically-ill person, we have to work hard at first to become self-compassionate with ourselves, regardless of what the world and our family is telling us.
We all desire to feel special. And we all look for outside approval to feel special. But this is not necessary and many times it can set us up for a lot of hardship and difficulty because people are not consistently praiseworthy towards ourselves. Therefore, in order to have consistent approval that we have control over we must discover that we are special from the inside. In other words, we have to get in the driver's seat of our self-worth and send loving kindness to ourselves without the need for others to always be complimenting us and making us feel worthy.
To be self-compassionate towards ourselves we should treat ourselves with love and kindness. We should make sure that we eat healthy foods and sleep well. We should also not overdo it.
Here are a few concrete ways to be self-compassionate towards ourselves:
• If you are having a bad pain day, go over your to-do list and do only the most necessary things. Be very scrupulous to include what you must do and move the rest of the to-do items for another day.
• Take rest breaks every few hours-regardless of whether you are having a bad day or a good one.
• Do something nice for yourself every day.
• Practice extreme self-care on the weekend. Decide what you need to do for self-care-it may be taking a bubble bath before bed, putting on a special body lotion after your bath, getting into fluffy socks and slippers or a nice lacy night gown. Whatever, it is, just do something nice for yourself
• Take mini-rest retreats. It may be an hour or two a day or a day a week. Most of us take Sundays off. But when we decide to take Sundays off, we should make sure that we don't sneak in work that we have to do.
• Have a massage at least once a month. If you can afford it, make two appointments a month.
• Meditate a few times a day, even if it is for a few minutes at a time.
• Stop what you are doing a few times a day and take a few deep breaths. Preferably try to do this every hour.
By taking these concrete steps, you will be taking care of yourself. And you will feel better in the process.
I will be spending a whole month on self-compassion. I think it is one of the most important things that chronically-ill people can do for themselves.