Sometimes bad things happen to us. It doesn’t matter if you are dealing with a chronic illness, cancer diagnosis, or a broken heart — it can be really hard to handle an unexpected life change. As we struggle with accepting our new circumstances, we may ask why? Why is this happening to me, how can I stop feeling this way, why does life seems so unfair? When it comes to both our physical and mental health, we can benefit from learning how to avoid negativity and reframe our difficulties. Staying positive isn’t easy, but it can definitely help you reduce stress, cope with what’s ahead and guide you on a path back to happiness.
For me, I was heartbroken when my husband and I split three years ago. My whole world crumbled and I felt incapacitated, scrambling to understand what was happening, and I didn’t have a clue how to deal with any of it. This was not the plan I had signed up for. I started comparing myself to others. I thought everyone else had a happier, more successful life than me. I felt alone.
After being sad for a long time and doing a lot of crying, I eventually found peace with my situation. I realized that life is never really broken, and that I needed to have compassion for myself and my struggle. I learned how to stop judging my disaster as bad; I’ve relabeled it as my own personal blessing. I have completely changed my personal mantra.
I know I’m not the only one who has been in a personal crisis. As a nutritionist specializing in the autoimmune paleo diet, I have a lot of clients dealing with autoimmune diseases and other health problems, and I hear the same questions of why and the overwhelming feelings of loneliness. If you are suffering now and struggling with these issues, try reframing your thoughts and attitude towards your situation. I know it seems hard to imagine that a diagnosis or traumatic event can be a positive thing, but I think you will find that how you approach your situation can make a big difference. Just as much as diet and exercise are important to your health, acceptance and positivity will make you stronger and more loving of yourself and your life.
Try these tips to help yourself become more positive:
1. Accept your situation. Some days I feel sad or upset about something in my life. I feel weak. I have learned that I need to accept my feelings. It’s OK to feel sadness, regret, or fear. I have stopped pushing difficulty away. It’s important to let your feelings come forward so you can begin accepting them and dealing with your circumstances.
2. Approach your illness with positivity. Tell yourself: I am going to fight this disease. I am going to survive this. I may be a victim, but I am also a survivor.
It actually helps to make an exercise out of thinking positive. Try sitting quietly, take a few breaths to relax and see if you can surface a blessing or positive aspect about your difficulty. It may look like this:
Old thought: I have Multiple Sclerosis; I’m so unlucky. I am in pain a lot, and life is unfair.
New thought: Luckily, I am able to meet all my challenges as they come with humor and grace. I am discovering how strong I am through this experience. I am thankful for how much more gentle I am with myself now.
Old thought: I am so annoyed I can’t eat the way I used to. I hate that I have to spend so much money on food for this new diet.
New thought: I am incredibly lucky that I have found a healing diet. I am amazed at how quickly my body is feeling better with this new approach to wellness.
I try to think about what is positive here and now, today. Even if it’s just being appreciative that there’s a box of tissues for me when I feel like crying. Or that I planned ahead and made dinner knowing that I was going to have a busy day.
3. Be gentle and loving to yourself. This may be the most difficult of them all. Do you find it easier to be loving and accepting of others more than yourself? The truth is, we need to be the most gentle and loving to ourselves. So, the next time you go to the grocery store and forget something important on your list, instead of negative self-blame, give yourself a break. Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that it’s OK to make mistakes.
Staying positive takes practice. I am vigilant about thinking positive regularly, as I consider it to be the most important aspect of my health. Sometimes, though, I am still prone to the occasional negative self-talk. But, I don’t give up, and I focus on the good things in my life. I really believe that the more you think positive, the better you will feel.
My biggest “disaster” has turned out to be the most beautiful experience I have had. The very thing I thought would destroy me has allowed me to become a more loving person towards myself and my circumstances. I hope you will be able to reframe your struggle and accept your life and yourself.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.