Reprinted with the kind permission of Boni Wagner-Stafford at BClear Writing.
By Boni Wagner-Stafford
I used to be the master of get-everything-done now, and perfectly. I could rock my job all week, care for my young son, get to fitness classes, and still find the time and energy to clean my entire house, grocery shop and host a dinner party on Saturday. The very thought of that now makes me feel faint. When first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I continued for quite some time trying to muster up enough energy to do what I'd always done. With mostly disastrous effects. It was only when I could learn to let go that I actually could ease fibro pain and other symptoms.
Step One: Let Yourself Grieve
If I was once the master of get-everything-done, I quickly became the queen of resistance. It was many years into my new life with fibromyalgia before I realized I was resisting the fact that I needed to grieve the loss of my former life. Even the loss of who I was. I resisted the fact of that loss. And I resisted the notion that going through the grieving process was both necessary and healthy. Then I got help. I discovered that grieving is a process that involves acceptance: both of my current reality and of what I've lost. And now I know you can't let go and start to ease fibro pain until you're through it.
Step Two: Choose What's Really Important
Oh, man, in my PF days (pre-fibro) I would have died if anyone visited my home to find it un-vacuumed, un-dusted, or the bathroom dirty. Or if I'd gone to work without having showered just one morning in a week. Can you imagine? Now, I've learned to shift my priorities and pick what's really important. Because I just can't do it all anymore, at least not for long, and not without significant negative health consequences.
So: is it more important that you get to spend time with kids, family and friends? Or that you expend all your energy cleaning and primping and risk not being able to make the get-together at all? Is it more important that you do your half-hour of stretching first thing in the morning? Or do you bow to the pressure of a deadline and get straight to your client work? No one else will manage your self-care. And life is short.
Step Three: Never Worry What Others Think
There's a quote I love that I use often. "What other people think of you is none of your business!" You may find that the older you get, the easier this is. The teenager's entire world revolves around what the rest of the school population thinks. The adult soon learns that is an unsustainable and unhealthy position. You can't possibly know or control what anyone else thinks, nor does it actually matter. Worry about you, what you think, and do what you know you need to do for yourself. Don't give your power and self-care over to others, ever, and certainly not because of what you worry they might be thinking.
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Step Four: Let Go
None of these steps are easy, but this one is probably the hardest. Let go. And I do mean of everything. All the wishing things were different or better. Wishing for more supportive friends, family, or loved ones. The bitterness over your lot in life. The disappointment that life isn't what you thought it would be. The judgment of others who don't understand your fibromyalgia. The bosses and work colleagues who you suspect disbelieve you are sick. Just. Let. Go.
Step Five: Practice "It Just Is"
The trick that helps me, most of the time (because nobody – and nothing – is perfect ;-)) is to repeat, either silently or aloud: it just is. There's a certain magic wrapped up in these three little words when you learn to make them part of your daily mantra. They represent a mastery over debilitating resistance (what you resist persists!), and a maturing of mindset that leads to power and peace. Practicing "it just is" demonstrates you are choosing to let go what you can't control and choose instead to focus on what you can.
Ease Fibro Pain
The mind sets the tone for what's happening in the body. Fibromyalgia pain levels can be intolerable when the mind is engaged in resistance, worry, and denial. They all ramp up the stress and the stress ramps up fibro symptoms. When you let go and choose to view things you can't control through your new "it just is" lens, you will actually ease fibro pain. It works for me.
Boni Wagner-Stafford is a writer, ghostwriter and editor who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2003. She’s a former award-winning journalist and author of the forthcoming book, The Trauma Trigger, about the role trauma plays in triggering fibromyalgia. The Trauma Trigger features interviews with ‘fibro-warriors,’ details of the latest scientific studies on the relationship between trauma and fibromyalgia, as well as strategies to move through and heal from trauma.
Boni is Canadian, and along with her husband John and their two cats, Princess and Moko, lives and works on her 40’ sailboat Ingenium somewhere along Mexico’s Pacific coast. Follow her on Twitter: @friendsWfibro and @bclearwriting. And like and follow her Facebook page @BoniWagnerStaffordAuthor.