Monday, November 9, 2015

Using Health Challenges As Windows To Self-Discovery



In our travel through life we live in mostly predictable patterns involving every aspect of life. When we get up in the morning, we expect our day to be as we've already imagined it. Our plans are made, and we expect to fulfill them. And we don't want unexpected occurrences changing any of it. No interruptions, please.

But whether we like it or not, unforeseen things do happen, like a check bounces at the bank, the car has a flat tire, your kid missed the school bus, you forgot an important appointment, etc, etc. All bothersome, but part of daily life and fairly quickly resolved or at least tolerated. But what happens when unexpected illness invades your systematic life, like a ferocious belly ache, a hip replacement, a fractured leg, the flu, various viral infections, etc, etc. Such health challenges are not life threatening, but they put your life on hold, and they require more than a band aid.

Ten days ago I had eye surgery to remove old lens debris from cataract surgery 7 years ago that just now caused a cloud over my eye. After surgery I spent 2 days exhausted and a little dizzy, maybe from anesthesia, most of the week with visual restrictions, not driving, and I'm still using eye drops and an eye shield at night. I never heard of such a thing, but it's a good example of how a health challenge can suddenly interrupt your life.

Some perceive even a minor illness as devastating, while others take it in stride. The way you perceive it depends upon your personality and the way you view your life. It may involve physical pain, frustration, annoyance, guilt, self-criticism, worry, resentment, added expenses, etc. And it may rob you of your mobility, freedom, and independence, leaving you feeling helpless. It interrupts your daily plan for living and leaves time on your hands that doesn't fit in with your scheme of things.


Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They're supposed to help you discover who you are.  Bernice Johnson Reagon

Over the years we're given many opportunities to learn and grow as our own unique, special self. But do you ever see such a blessing in those health challenges that knock you off your familiar path? How do you respond in those situations? Do you stomp your feet and throw things because you can't keep that important event? Do you worry about being late paying the electric bill? Do you worry about the unknown? Or do you take advantage of each situation to observe yourself and discover more of who you are?

The wish for healing has always been half of health.  Lucius Annaeus Seneca
 
My eye surgery could have been more stressful had I not learned from a bout with pneumonia last spring with 3 days in the hospital, then home with medication and oxygen 24/7. That oxygen hose hanging from my nose and dragging the floor around my feet and legs slooowed me down enough to turn on some self-observation. And I'm learning a lot about myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I don't like being sick--I'd rather be swimming with an alligator in Silver Springs (a tame one)--but now I'm better able to view illness not as an enemy, but an ally there to help me. I'm learning more about me, and I'm transferring what I learn to other aspects of my life.

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr

When you go through a non-life-threatening illness, and your life has been put on hold for a while, quiet your mind and ask what you can learn from that experience. Clarify your thoughts and feelings. And pay attention to how you react to physical pain and/or your situation. What are you losing and gaining? Question your life style. Are there positive changes you can make? Use this extra time to learn more about you...the most important person in your life. And come through it changed in some way with gratitude.

I wish you happy enlightenment.


Marilyn

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