Recognizing and taking advantage of the opportunities in chronic illness can change our lives for the better!
Further, finding and acting on opportunities our chronic illness holds can transform feelings of helplessness and vulnerability into feelings of empowerment and strength.
Recognizing the Opportunities
The first step in recognizing opportunities is to sit down and think about your chronic illness from an outside perspective.
What physical struggles do you see?
Make a mental list, or get out a piece of paper and jot them down.
Some of the physical trials I struggled with upon diagnosis include:
- Getting out of bed in the morning
- Sleeping through the night
- Physical symptoms: daily fevers, muscle pain, joint pain, brain fog, fatigue, cold intolerance, and more
- Physically taking care of myself and my family
- Overseeing the homeschooling of my kids
- Finding the time and energy to work
- Learning how to cook cleanly
- Learning how to eat cleanly
- Battling sugar addiction and emotional eating
What emotional struggles do I see?
Again, make a mental list, or add these to your paper list.
Some of the emotional trials I struggled with upon diagnosis include:
- Heart break
Linking struggles to opportunities
Now that you have your list of physical and emotional struggles, identify corresponding opportunities to each struggle.
For example, one of my physical trials was sugar addiction, which was also technically an emotional struggle. The corresponding opportunity? To overcome my sugar addiction and be free from sugar cravings. Pretty amazing opportunity!
Using Opportunities to Learn and Grow
An opportunity is just that. An opportunity. Subsequently, it is up to us to take advantage of the opportunities in our chronic illness and autoimmune disease.
“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.”Thomas Edison
The Hard Part
After recognizing a struggle, and identifying a corresponding opportunity, then, still as an outside observer, decide what action to take, and take action.
Note: If possible, focus on one “opportunity” at a time to work on to avoid feelings of overwhelm.
In the example I used above, one of my opportunities was to overcome sugar addiction and and be free from sugar cravings.
The action I decided to take?
First, I gathered my grit and determination and stopped eating sugar. To say it felt difficult is an understatement. My determination only saw me through to about 2-3 weeks.
Then, I started wondering, “how can I live like this,” so I knew further action was needed.
As a result, I learned about the science behind autoimmune disease, why the autoimmune protocol eliminates sugar, and why I feel physically better when I do not eat sugar. Further, I learned the science behind sugar consumption and why I felt like I needed it every day. Finally, I learned taste buds can change if I allow them time to.
After recognizing the opportunities in your chronic illness and doing the hard work, enjoy the reward of your efforts!
Armed with the knowledge of scientifically why I should not eat sugar, I found myself able to overcome sugar addiction and sugar cravings.
I can hardly believe I do not eat processed sugar and desserts. Words I never thought I’d say! I only eat the natural sugars that are AIP approved, and I eat those in limited quantity.
Our Chronic Illness Really CAN Help Us Be the Best Version of Ourselves!
A resounding YES!
Let’s commit to the process of finding the opportunities our chronic illness holds, and doing the hard work.
Let’s choose to keep going when chronic illness feels too heavy.
Allowing for Grace
The process of learning and growth is not all rainbows and butterflies.
Failure is part of the process.
Offering ourselves grace and forgiveness is an essential part of this journey.
In my example of cutting out sugar, it took time and patience. I tried to cut out sugar for years prior to my diagnosis. Further, I felt ashamed of my weakness for years. I offered myself forgiveness, love, and grace, and I simply tried my best.
So please don’t read this and think, “she must have some super power for working through these things. Great for her, but I can’t do it.”
Not true! The only super power I used is sacrifice and hard work. The good news is both are available to everyone!
Moving Forward – New Opportunities
As we continue to learn to live with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, we will find new “opportunities” along our way.
Together, let’s choose to try to learn and grow from them all, and be the best versions of ourselves we can be!