Loving Your Self Through Illness and Disability
About the Author: Jenna green is an amazing MS advocate that uses her platform to spread awareness about MS and disability in general! She also never shies away from a difficult conversation or topic and is always educating her followers. She's also an incredible blogger for Full of Grit and Grace. You can see more awesome content from her on her instagram here!
𝗜 𝗹𝗼𝘃𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝗿𝗱 (with friends, family, etc).Sometimes, it leads to heartbreak. But I'm 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 okay with that tradeoff.
So why not work on loving myself as much as I love my dear friends?! I wasn’t on the best terms with my body after my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. Having MS means that my immune system is actually attacking my nerve coverings...which is kind of rude of my body, right?! But I can only control that as best I can… and I finally realized that being mad at my body or myself for something I didn’t ‘do’ to myself isn’t fair. MS isn’t going to be nicer to me if I am mean to myself. Loving myself since my diagnosis doesn't come easy to me, but the best things never do, right?!
There are so many parts of your life you cannot control, from the need to earn a living to how your mobility varies. But you can control your mindset, your thoughts, and how you act in the world. So how can you overcome your psychological blocks and open your mind to achieve greater self love and confidence?
I’ve worked hard on learning to love myself again. First step, for me, was digging deep and examining WHY I wasn’t being kind to myself. Why did my inner mean girl come out when I dropped a cup of water? Your feelings can get a little uncomfortable. Don’t let that deter you. Keep pushing through. It is well worth it and you’ll feel much better once you’ve faced your inner mean girl and dealt with your feelings of guilt/not enough/less than/any other BS that is causing you to speak negatively to yourself!
Change the record
Everyone has a constant inner monologue; what psychologists call self-talk. And most of the time, yours is probably set to negative. Any messages you get in childhood about being bad, hopeless or selfish or stupid all get absorbed in your malleable child’s brain and resurface in adulthood as your Inner Critic (or what I like to call inner mean girl).
The good news is that you can reprogram your Inner Mean Girl and turn it into an Inner Coach. Make a list of all the negative things your inner mean girl says. Be alert for phrases that start ‘you always or ‘you never.’ Watch out for ‘shoulds’ too. Then take each negative message and turn into a positive one. Yes, it’s work and takes time, but it’s SO worth it! Change your self-talk broken record to a new track full of encouragement and positivity. I find that listing what I’m grateful for and what I love about myself helps a ton.
Prioritize Activities that Bring You Joy
Another way that I’ve found to show myself love is by prioritizing things I love and are good for me. Multiple Sclerosis gives me chronic fatigue so my energy is limited (but who’s isnt?!) so I used to spend all of my energy on work and doing things for others, leaving myself depleted every day. Now, I prioritize activities that bring me joy and help me feel better like meditation, Qi Gong exercise and walking my dog. Does that mean I don’t have the energy to cook most nights? Yes, but instead, I have started having healthy meals delivered so that I don’t have to worry about what to cook. I know that as a childless woman I don’t have as many people depending on me as many others do, but even 5 minutes of meditation in the morning can be a great way to set a positive mindset and show yourself some love!
As Brene Brown says “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we'll ever do.”