When people greet you with, “Hi, how are you?” most of the time they do not expect you to answer the question. When you are dealing with a chronic illness, that question can be very annoying. A person in a health struggle has to be very aware of who they are speaking to and not share with people who cannot consciously deal with it. This may seem like a small thing, but sometimes the little changes you make in your mind can completely change your perspective.
How you share sets the tone of how you relate to your illness. If your sharing is casual, giving pat answers only, your focus on your illness becomes limited. If your sharing is panicky, expressing fear, your focus will be scattered. The ideal focus is to allow the interest of who you are talking to, to pull your answers out. This is a natural phenomenon; when you talk to someone who is truly interested, there is a flow and sharing seems to be easier. When you talk to someone with is not truly interested or uncomfortable relating to you, your sharing is awkward and does not seem to flow. So, be conscious of who you share with because it sets the tone for how you communicate about your illness.
It is important to be conscious of what you are sharing, because it is very easy to fall into unconscious, manipulative actions. For example, when a child does not want to go to school, they will often say, “I don’t feel good.” This is something children might do to get out of going to school, but that behavior can spill into other areas of your life. For example, a chronically ill person might use their illness to get out of something they do not want to do. The alternative is just to be truthful and share without any ulterior motives.
When some people have had a chronic illness for a long time, it is not uncommon for them not to want to talk about it. They may have explained it over and over and there may be no hope for improvement in the future. This type of sharing can create a dangerous habit, where they use avoidance and it becomes a natural response.
Often, people will try to serve you by offering you the newest ‘magic cure.’ Even though they are well-meaning, I suggest that you be open to everything, but check everything with your doctor. It is important to have an objective perspective, where wishful thinking does not lead you down unscientific paths.
If you share with someone in an unconscious way (for instance, complaining and self-pity), you may be setting up thought patterns that do not serve you. The ideal state of mind for a person in a health struggle is to be conscious in the moment, connected to inner resources and accepting the responsibility that this is your body. This does not depend on who you talk to.
Go to Amazon/Kindle.com to purchase A Healthy Way to be Sick, In this book, you will become an empowered patient. You will talk with the confidence that, even though you are sick, you are in control. In the book, The Positive Self: Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life, you develop this perspective in your entire life. The intensity of a chronic illness has the ability to make you dig deep to find resources and share from an empowered perspective.
© 2015 Marc Lerner