When a chronic condition makes your old ways of life impossible, how can you develop a satisfying new life?
(I have celiac disease, so I’m going to explore this question through the celiac lens, but you can apply my approach to whatever chronic condition you are dealing with.)
When You Can’t Do Something You Used To Do
Having celiac disease makes it impossible to keep doing some things you always used to do. This can make you feel like your world is falling apart, like you’re losing what’s important to you. But don’t despair! You can find new ways to do what’s important to you. Here’s how.
- Identify your needs — list the reasons WHY you want to do the thing.
- Brainstorm new ways to meet your needs. These new ways must respect your health as a celiac.
- Select the most workable and attractive new way and give it a try.
- Notice with gratitude how this new way is satisfying your needs and expanding your life.
Example — “I Can’t Do This Anymore!”
Betty always spends two weeks at the home of her aging parents in the summer. Now that Betty has celiac disease, she suffers anxiety, hunger, sadness, and resentment on these holidays because her parents can’t/won’t make their home safe for her. She realizes that spending two weeks at her parents’ home is no longer an option, and she feels terrible about it.
- IDENTIFY NEEDS
Betty’s main reason to holiday at her parents’ home is to spend time with her parents.
New ways to spend time with her parents:
- stay in a nearby hotel with a kitchenette, or a campground, or a rented RV;
- invite her parents to her place instead;
- meet her parents somewhere for a vacation get-away where she has her own kitchenette;
- go for a much shorter visit but more often.
- go for a much shorter visit but phone, Skype, write letters etc. more often throughout the year
- GIVE IT A TRY
Betty chooses an option, sets it up, and follows through with it.
- NOTICE WITH GRATITUDE
It’s hard for Betty to change her life like this – she misses the old way, she resents that the old way is no longer possible, she’s pressured by her parents, who don’t understand why she’s doing this, and so on. But…
- THINGS HAVE CHANGED. Fact.
- What is beautiful about the new way? Plenty.
- Look for the beauty. Find it.
- Allow gratitude for what IS to soothe the pain over what is no more.
Thank you, celiac disease, for giving us a crash course in adapting to change. This will be helpful in every area of life.
by Sherry Scheideman, MA, Registered Clinical Counsellor