Recently I gave a speech on the power of positivity while living with spondylitis to the Spondylitis Association of America and it was a wonderful occasion in my life. This is a great organization and a real asset to those who are living with either ankylosing spondylitis or any form of spondylitis.
One of the things I spoke about, which pertains to having any chronic condition, is that I liken my attitude with it to old-fashioned circuit breakers, where my mind is like the breaker switches which sometimes just get flipped. I have to go inside to find the breaker box somewhere in the house of my mind and try to flip all the switches that got tripped back to their rightful place, but sometimes it’s really, really hard to push them back.
So, one of the things I mentioned in my speech is that even when it’s hard, maybe I could try to flip the little levers of negativity or fear back along the way, so that the big ones aren’t as daunting, overwhelming or before they get to a crisis mode of mental attitude. Essentially, we all, every one of us, has to try to be the backup generator in our minds when things are tough or painful (physical or mental pain). We can notice and try to still “be with things” when they are less than stellar. This does not mean that having a troubled teenager in the home or a young person struggling to “adult” or a chronic health condition or anything painful mentally or physically is ideal. Nor does it mean being complacent about trying to get help. It does mean choosing how to approach things in the best light possible at the given time.
It says in the book of Zohar, that the toughest battle is in the mind. An acronym I like to think of for CBT – cognitive-behavioral therapy, which often gets people to think of how to best reframe their thoughts, is that CBT can also mean Choose a Better Thought! I try, when I can, to choose better, more positive thoughts, because sometimes when my back or body hurts, I simply don’t have the luxury of negative thinking.
To counteract the pain I feel, I put effort into choosing to feel better emotionally, even when I’m not feeling good physically. This is the act of switching the breakers, and doing so allows me to prevent dauntingly larger switches from flipping. I give myself this pep talk even when I take medicine. When medicine of any type goes into my body, I say, “the medicine is working even as I speak these words.” Easing my mind works to ease my body as well. I don’t consider myself an expert on chronic pain by any stretch, but I do have the power to control how I think about my own pain. Positively reframing my thinking helps put my mind ease and helps me to remember that, in the words of one of the people who attended the recent speech I gave at the Spondylitis Association, “joy is a choice.”
How do you flip breaker switches back into a “better/healthier” place in the circuit breaker box of your own mind? Feel free to email me back with your thoughts on this and anything else that helps you stay more positive. [email protected]