What does it mean to be positive? When I discuss positivity with chronic pain and illness patients, most people look at me like I am talking about something unrealistic or unachievable.
How can I be positive? I am in pain. I am sick. I am injured.
Yes, you are. So, am I. So are many people.
Illness and pain does not prevent positivity. In fact, it is sick and pain-stricken people who have the most to gain from a positive mindset.
Let me tell you a secret: You are the only person making yourself negative. You are also the only thing standing in your way of achieving a positive mindset. You are your own worst enemy in this regard.
Maybe you do have positive traits or an upbeat demeanor about some things. If so, you are on the right track and I commend you for the courage to not allow chronic illness or pain to ruin your one and only life.
However, experience has taught me that most clients are pessimists and that it is their pain or illness which has made them this way. Before becoming sick or suffering pain, most people have a natural human tendency to embrace the good in life and hold on to hope for a great today and an even better tomorrow. Chronic pain and sickness takes this natural desire and twists it into something malevolent.
What I see in most chronic pain sufferers is a disposition towards negativity, hopelessness, cynicism and suffering. Time hones these skills into habits and soon the person does not just think negatively, they also feel negatively and become truly negative. They become experts on negativity through careful and relentless practice.
I know that it is difficult to smile or feel good about life when you are in pain, sick or otherwise affected by some suffering. However, life consists of inherent sufferings. Suffering is part of our human journey. You must understand this truth and accept it if you are to be able to move on with life, despite pain or illness.
As I often write, people with chronic pain and sickness can live remarkable lives. Throughout history, many of the most afflicted of us have been leaders, visionaries and achievers that have accomplished seemingly impossible tasks, despite overwhelming physical, cognitive and emotional hardships.
Life is not supposed to be easy. Don’t expect it to be and you will never be disappointed. Embrace the suffering as part of the path we are all on together. However, do not allow the suffering to define your life.
What makes you think that anyone whom you admire has less pain or hardship then you? Did these sufferings make your hero lie down and give up? No; of course not. Suffering, pain and hardship drive us onward and forward, to excel, despite the obstacles in our path. This is, and has always been, the human way.
Do you think that your life is really worse than everyone else’s? If so, then you must remember the truth of our existence:
Suffering is universal. However, suffering does not personify life.
People prove this each and every day. Just open your eyes to see the courage all around you. These people are not any better, smarter, braver, more able or less challenged than you. They merely embrace a positive mindset that can provide satisfaction for a struggle well fought.
Positive thoughts bring positive actions bring positive results.
Do you think it works the same way for negativity? Of course, you are correct. Negativity brings far worse things than negative thoughts, actions and results. Chronic negativity has been proven to be a major cause and contributor to an ever-growing list of serious, problematic health issues.
Emotional stresses on the body have been shown to create conditions of increased muscle tension, increased heart rate, rapid respiration, constricted blood vessels, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, stomach acid secretion concerns, exacerbated pain and overall immune system suppression.
To put it in words that might paint the most accurate mental picture, negative thoughts and feelings are poisons. They are toxins to body and mind. Falling into a habit of cognitive or emotional negativity is tantamount to purposefully ingesting venom that can maim or kill.
In order to improve life, regardless of the chronic health issues that you endure, you must train or re-train your mind to discount negative thoughts as self-destructive enemies. Instead, you must focus on building relationships with entirely new thought patterns of positivity. The neuroplastic process allows the brain to reconfigure its neurons in order to decrease the negative effects of pain and sickness on our lives.
You can’t fool yourself by pretending. You must actually work at this process until acceptance seeps into your core psychoemotional belief system and you can honestly see things without that horrible negative filter.
Do you ever wear sunglasses as you enter a dark building? You can’t see anything and fumble around trying to figure out where you are.
This is the same as embracing negativity in your world view. Your vision becomes so dark that you are missing all the wonderful things in life that exist right in front of your eyes, but you are too busy fumbling about to enjoy any of them.