I was recently doing some research on a few RA websites and Facebook groups and I was completely thrown off guard by the number of “whoa is me” memes, comments, and pity stories. All which got me thinking, what can I do to help these people? To be encouraged and to encourage others to Be_again (once more, anew, afresh). First off, listen, let’s get one thing clear folks, RA is not a death sentence, and taking a victim approach is not going to help you or your condition. Guess what? I have RA also and so what, who cares. Many other people have other illnesses or conditions that are equally or even more debilitating, autoimmune or not. My goal has been, and still is the same; to be healthy, live happily, and to live a fulfilling life. And I am the one who’s in control of that.
This may be tough for you to hear, but wake up. For the most part, other people don’t really care about your condition, and when you victimize yourself to them it only makes you look sorrowful, and who likes to be around that? Each day I get to choose. I can choose to take control of my RA, my life, to own it, and to use my condition to enlighten and inspire those around me to do the same, not to seek sympathy. I like a good meme or post making light of the situations RA can put us in, just like everyone else, but dwelling and griping over it does nothing to resolve it. In fact, how you overcame the situation or are planning to, is inspiring, encouraging…and laughing about it is a powerful healing tool. Pity is for fools, thanks, Mr. T.
Each day when I wake up, life comes with a choice to be happy or not, to be inspiring or to be a victim. Hold on, this is the amazing thing, if you choose wrong, with each new day you get a chance to reset that choice. I know, pretty spectacular, right? And, it even gets more amazing. That choice is purely up to you, and other people don’t get choose it for you. I know, mind-blowing. Now some of you self-behavioral masters out there can even do this mind-shifting hour by hour or minute to minute. I bow to your excellence and someday I will master this practice, through your various mysterious and magically natural methods.
Each and every day when I get up it’s my choice to eat healthy, exercise, meditate, laugh, smile, to do everything in “my” own power to control “my” condition and “my” life. When I was first diagnosed with PsA, (Now reclassified by my “practicing” doctor as RA, even though I have psoriasis, whatever?) I would often say to myself, well “I can’t” do (fill in the blank) anymore. I recently had a friend ask this question on a Facebook post, which is actually what sparked this story. “What old stories used to hold you back and how did you overcome them?” He called it your “Bullshit Story”. Bing…
After rediscovering my love for hiking since my RA awakening in 2013, I woke up from my first multi-day overnight hiking trip on the Knobstone Trail, IN. 13 miles in to the hike with a 28 lb pack on my back, I was sore, stiff, beaten and I said to the world, or more like a few trees, “I’ll never be able to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail”. Since running damages my joints, I’ve turned to hiking. And I had just denounced a dream that was to satisfy my past goal to be a multi-race UltraRunner by the age of 50. Over the past year, that specific statement has really freaked me out, my “I can’t bullshit story”. How can I say that when I haven’t even tried it? A fearful person..that’s who.
I’ve overcome a lot in my personal life. Growing up in a divorced family, managing depression, struggling with anxiety, raising a child with disabilities and losing her way too early, losing a parent, and watching your child struggle with gender identity (who is now flourishing into the beautiful person that “she” is), just to name a few. Not once did I ever say “I can’t” do this. All of these life experiences had only inspired me to seek to continually improve myself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically. So come on, I ran numerous 5k, 8k, 10k, marathons, triathlons, and even an entry-level Ultra 30 mile race. Never once did I say then, “I can’t”…So why start now? RA will just change my approach to fulfilling my dream, so let the AT planning begin.
Listen, I’ve said this before, I’m not a professional athlete nor am I a life coach, nutritionist, or doctor, and don’t proclaim to be. I’m just an average guy seeking to live a purposeful and happy life, and I’d be over the moon to inspire just one person to shift and reshape their life. I mean, I’m doing it anyways with or without you. I don’t blog for fame or fortune, I blog for personal therapy, and if one person finds inspiration from my stories I am happy. If you’re lost, you can be found. If you need help finding your center and not good at self-motivation, I can provide plenty of recommendations (Love me some Gabby Bernstein). I highly recommend seeking a life coach that you connect with.
Special thanks to my international Facebook friend, Will Aylward, founder of Orange Box Professional Development, who doesn’t even know that he inspired me today. And of course, Jennifer Waligora, my wife who gets extremely frustrated with me (often) when I don’t practice what I’ve learned, but has stuck by my side and hasn’t killed me yet. Honey, remember even the professional life coaches fall off the wagon, recognizing it is the first step to fixing it and to Be_again…and again.
Great post. I love the label “Bullshit Story”! “BS” would be a great mantra. It’s simple and humorous to. Thank you for sharing your inspirational words. We are in charge of how we live our lives and deal with our very own “BS”. The sooner we get going, the more fulfilled lives we will lead. It’s important to keep in mind we ALL have issues to deal with and the sooner we get going the better!
Thank you for reading Madeleine and I appreciate your comments. 🙂
Love you stories.
Thank you for reading Tim and I’m super glad that you enjoy them. 🙂
It’s hard to come by educated people on this topic, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks
Thank you, Tosha for the kind comment. I wouldn’t call myself educated more like enlighten by practice to know that we alone are ultimately in control of the choices in life that we make. I’m under the belief that everything happens good or bad for a reason so embrace it and own it. It took me many years to understand this and not fight it. It’s simply one’s own choice, not anybody else’s, on how to respond to our personal life events. I choose to be happy and if I get tripped up, I pause, reset, and choose again. Don’t let one’s internal ego or other external ego’s drive your life. Happiness is not a destination it’s a journey and it takes practice and patience every day to steer the course.
Many thanks for your “Bullshit Story!” It came at the exit right time. I was “misdiagnosed”recently by my MD and have to wait another 4 weeks to see and orthopedic specialist who I booked an app’t with. I have every symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome and am wearing splints, exercises I found on the web, and taking Aleve, ice , etc. I drop things because of the numbness in my hands and it’s difficult to type. Getting used to typing the wrong letters and correcting most every word as I go along. Have taken every measure to deal with this and am coming to the realization that numb hands do not fit in with my very active life style. Fortunately I have great motor strength. Was feeling very “old” and sorry for myself, even crying when I would drop things, etc. Have been thinking that I need to stop feeling sorry for self, suck it up, deal with it, and carry on. Life changes happen often when we least “expect” them and we can spend our time in abject misery or build on what we have. Your words gave me courage to press on and stop feeling sorry for myself. I must keep in mind that life is most definitely a “work in progress” and we can fight it or make the very most of what we have. It really is up to the individual. Recently I asked my meditation teacher “ How can I stop obsessing about this problem? His simple reply “Think of something else!” One of my favorites is something he shared a short time ago. “What we place in our conscious mind is how we live our lives. What we resist persist!” Thanks again for your wise words and for caring enough to share them with us. Keep on keepin’ on!!! >
Thank you, Madeleine! One of the keys to growing is understanding when you’ve drifted from mindfulness and good intentions into the world of judging and ego. It’s “ok” it happens, we are all human and there is so much unnecessary noise in this world that is constantly chipping away at one’s soul. I have to often rest my intentions when I’ve recognized that I drifted, never beat yourself up over it, just recognize it and reset because happiness is a choice. Mediation is an amazing healer, doing it in on the trail amplifies it a100 times over for me, so keep it up. A big hug an a high five to you…you got this!
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