Have you seen the commercial about atopic dermatitis? In it, a lady is constantly covering her skin, even when it’s warm out, and cancelling plans, while saying, “Yeah it’s my eczema again, but It’s fine.” I think just about anyone with a chronic illness can relate to this commercial. And we all know she’s not fine.
I’ve become hyper aware of authenticity lately. As in, I’m always challenging myself to be my most authentic self. So I’ve noticed the contradiction where I’ve felt like shit (pun intended, puns are always intended!) but I’m still cheerful and slightly hyper. For example, I’m sitting at my desk in my office, hunched over in pain, and a coworker walks by, says good morning and asks how I’m doing. I perk up and exclaim, “I’m great! How are you?” As is my habit, I begin overthinking. Am I great? I hurt. Am I being authentic? The short answer is, yes. Let’s look at why.
My, “I’m great,” is actually the epitome of authenticity because I’m speaking to who I am at my soul’s level, not speaking to what my body is experiencing. At my core, I’m an optimist. And a determined one at that. I know any illnesses I may be experiencing symptoms of are temporary and do not effect who I am at my core.
It all boils down to the fact that I am not my illness. I can be sick and great at the same time. My body might not be doing so hot, but aside from that, I’m grateful for all of the blessings I have and life is good. Separating myself from my illness is key. It would be very easy to describe myself as an IBD patient, or someone who suffers from ulcerative colitis. But I believe words are very important so I don’t want to be identified by my illness or use terms like “suffer.” I also don’t like the negative, stress-inducing phrase of “beating” an illness. I prefer to think of “healing” from that illness. So no, I don’t suffer from ulcerative colitis, instead, I’m currently functioning with an ulcerative flare.
What you think about you bring about, and the words you use are one way to communicate your thoughts to the universe. One way to be more authentic is to become conscious of the words you use. Make sure they are honest, yet project positivity into the universe at the same time. It can actually become a game. Instead of “I’m overweight,” try, “I’m working to adopt more healthy habits.” Instead of, “I’m exhausted,” try “I’ve been working very hard and deserve some rest.”
What are some tricks you’ve learned in dealing with a chronic illness? Please share below.