How can I be grateful when I am so sick?

I remember the last year that I was really sick (highly symptomatic of fibromyalgia and coexisting conditions). I did not want to go to my in-laws’ house for Thanksgiving.  I didn’t want to go anywhere for that matter, and I just stayed home all the time. It wasn’t just that one year; it was several years.Hard to be Thankful with Fibromyalgia  How can I be grateful when I am so sick? turkey 966496 640

Holidays were a particular hell – I had to be present at a certain time, I had to spend a couple hours with people I only saw once or twice a year, I felt like I had to explain why I looked just fine but couldn’t work or do anything meaningful with my life, plus wear nice clothes and eat different food.  Ugh!  Let me go back to bed!

On that last year I was trying to tell my husband I wasn’t going to go to his parents’ house for Thanksgiving.  My husband is a very sweet person, and he had put up with a lot with me being sick.  He gave me this look like “unless you have to go to the hospital, you better go, don’t do this to me.

Here in the US, some families take turns going around the table declaring what they are thankful for that year.  When every fiber of your being is in pain, sleep has been elusive for years, and fatigue is crushing, it takes a lot more imagination to find reasons to be grateful.

How can I be grateful when I am so sick?  Nothing seems good when looked through the lens of an intense illness.  The more you need something, the harder it is to get, right?

You know how it is when you get around somebody that is really complaining, and it might be totally legitimate, but it can really bring the mood down.  Then other people pipe in and start commiserating, and soon everyone is feeling really sour.  This is an example of the principle of Law of Attraction, “like attracts like.”  A negative thought attracts another negative thought like the fibers in a string of yarn until it becomes a rope.

Oppositely, when you focus on better feeling thoughts, you then start to attract more better feeling thoughts.  Thoughts lead to feelings, and who doesn’t want to have good feelings?!

However, the truth of the matter is, you cannot go directly from being down and depressed to grateful and joyful.  Or as Abraham-Hicks point out, “You just can’t get there from here.”  And why would you want to anyway, what does it matter?  What’s so important about gratitude?  Why do we even have a holiday about this?

The fastest and most effective way to flip the switch on any kind of bad mood is to start counting your blessings, i.e., experiencing gratitude. When a person is down in the dumps, it takes some forethought to figure out what to be grateful for, but I have a simple method I learned from Abraham-Hicks: go general.

If you think about the specifics of your situation, you may very well not find anything to be grateful for, it may be just too raw for you to find anything.  So to start (and I mean this is the start – not the end all, be all), start thinking about general things that are pleasant in your situation.  Then those thoughts and feelings will start to attract more and more thoughts about even more and more positive aspects, and a positive spiral will start.  When you get stuck, or a negative thought creeps in, and they will go back to a more general thought.

For example, I might be feeling pretty cruddy and just barely able to make it to the holiday dinner.  How can I lift my mood or even begin to feel like I have gratitude?  I start with something that is easy to be grateful for such as a pet.  I think I am so grateful for my dog, she is such a comfort to me.  Then I wait for a second or two for another positive thought.  I’m glad I get to cuddle with my dog.  As I am waiting for another positive thought, a negative one may creep in: but she needs a bath.  Go back to general: I am so grateful that we have plenty of fresh, clean water.  My dog loves baths, it’s so cute!

As you are thinking about your pet (or something else that is easy to think about), you may very well find your mood improves some.  Then stay in that good mood for as long as you can and just focus on good feeling thoughts.  When the negative thoughts creep in, just blow them off and don’t focus on them.How can I be grateful when I am so sick? Happy Thanksgiving

At this point you may have some ideas about how going to a holiday dinner might be bearable.  Such as, hmm, I can wear something more comfortable, that way I may not tire out so quickly.  Also, I can bring a cushion with me, that way the chair won’t hurt.  I really appreciate how my mother-in-law hosts our family’s get together, she really cares about everyone being comfortable and happy.

You have to build up to the good feelings.  Finding general things to be grateful for attracts more thoughts about what to be grateful for, for your specific situation.

So then what does gratitude do besides make you feel good?  First, isn’t that great all on its own – any way to feel better, especially in the midst of soul-sucking pain, isn’t that enough all on its own?!   In a very metaphysical way, gratitude attracts happiness and blessings the way a tuning fork, once struck, will turn on another tuning fork of the same note, that’s in its vicinity.   Like attracts like.

About a month before that last Thanksgiving where I was so sick, I had started to meditate on “optimal health” which was the most audacious wish I could imagine.  Within about two months I attracted the thought that I wanted to be happy no matter what the situation.  I wasn’t one hundred percent, but my way of being changed so much so, that my husband thought my physical situation was improving.  It hadn’t at that point, but that’s how big a difference changing my outlook made.

Within a year every single aspect of my life changed for the better: I recovered from fibromyalgia and the coexisting conditions I had, I lost over 70 pounds, I was able to get off all prescription drugs, and the miracle of miracles, I became pregnant (at 41 years old!).  I know deep in my soul, that changing my outlook started the ball rolling, and attracted the people and things I needed to make the physical changes.  I attracted happiness and blessings!

So what about you?  What’s an easy subject for you think about?  Do you love the crispness of the air this time of year?  Do you love seeing how much the children have grown when everyone gathers for the holiday?

Also, what strategies have you come up with that help you get through the holidays with health and peace?  Join the Freedom from Fibromyalgia: Fibro Natural Recovery Support group page (you have to request to join – there are all kinds of free resources in the Files section).  I can’t wait to see you then!

Love, Leah

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