Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Woman with autoimmune disease still getting things done
You have a million things to do and just a little bit of time to do it in. And then the fatigue sets in. You were already scrambling to figure out how to be two places at the same time and now you are wondering if you can even get out of bed. Mentally you begin rearranging your day, scratching things off of the to-do list, and pushing back tears, knowing that there are people counting on you, and if you do show up, you're going to be in a zombie state and pay double for it later.
Can you relate?
If this is easily your life, you are not alone. As the issue of autoimmunity increases, and more and more women find themselves in this situation, there are more and more opportunities to learn new ways of getting things done, creating new standards, and new priorities. The hardest one to sell on this idea may be you.
May I share three common thoughts when women I work with find themselves faced with a full day and an empty tank and how we can change those thoughts to better serve us?
1. "I can't do this."
Who hasn't laid on the couch, completely tanked, with a child who needs food and attention wandering in the same room? Or a job that needs to be done? Try asking yourself, "What can't I do? What is 'this'?"
When I sit back and ask myself this question, I find that somewhere in my mind I'm literally thinking I'm going to die on the couch, that I can't even live. I find that when I really look and ask myself what it is I actually can't do, I'm not going to die, but I literally don't have the energy to do things the way I've always done them and to the same standard. I have a fear of falling short.
I don't know about you, but when I am showing up in fear, I don't show up well. In these moments, it is an excellent chance to ask how I can, how you can, show up in love. How can I provide what is truly important to the ones who depend on me in life? What is truly important? Instead of, "I can't do this", try on, "How can I do what I truly need to do?".
2. "This is not how I wanted my life to be."
There is nothing wrong with grieving the life you expected. It's important to acknowledge the feelings of loss and disappointment if that is what you are feeling. In fact, resisting or hiding from these feelings could cause them to hang around even longer and use valuable energy stores that you could certainly use somewhere else. It is exhausting to keep distracting and fighting against them. If, however, you are ready for a new thought, I'd like you to try this one on: "This is exactly how my life is supposed to be." Not in a cynical way, but in a trusting way. If you trust that the universe, your higher power, however you believe, actually works for your good, then this is all part of the plan.
Sometimes we resist the idea that things are actually for our good. Currently, are you operating under the idea that this is to your detriment? Why is that thought more true to you? How is that serving you? It is so common for us to believe the negative conclusion, that this is horrible and is working against us, because our minds are created to keep us safe. The mind does this by imagining the worst. You are free to imagine the best. How do you show up when you are imagining the best? Personally, I find that I feel like I do when I'm reading a book that I just love that is filled with plot twists. In my heart, I know it's going to work out in the end, but I can hardly wait to turn the page to see how this is going to happen! Can you try on the idea that this is for your good and exactly how your life should be? How does that feel?
3. "I won't ever be the same."
You are right. But you don't have to make this change mean something negative. Last week I referred to changing how we get things done. May I use a personal example?
I just had the busiest month in my memory. For a minute, I was definitely laboring under thoughts like, "I'm never going to be able to do this". But then, with the help of a friend, I changed this thought to, "How is this going to get done?" I found that if I try to do things the way I have in the past, by pushing and then pushing some more until what I imagined happened, my health suffers almost immediately. Instead, I found new ways of thinking and doing that preserved my energy and even my relationships because my mind was not spending it's time wondering if it was going to work out, it was spending it's time figuring out how to get it done in new ways.
Here is what I found
* Break things down into small steps
I know you know this, but I'm talking even smaller. I'm saying that instead of expecting to get the laundry done in one day, expect to get it done in a week, or whatever your situation requires.
I used to mass-produce meals, work projects by powering through and getting them all done in one swoop and then resting, but that just doesn't work for me now. There are days when I just need to back off and rest and if I miss one day of mass-producing meals, for example, I'm not out a whole 2 weeks of meals. If I need to take a day off, I'm not so far behind if I just missed a small step of a task.
*Allow things to be done differently
I don't want to play the control-freak card, but we all know that we have really efficient ways of getting things done and getting them done well. It's time to let that go.
The amazing thing is that when you entertain the idea that there is another way of doing things, and holding on to the habits that keep you working toward health and healing, new ways present themselves. It's really cool to watch.
*Create long-term goals
Creating goals that are long-term, such as 90 day goals, gives you the flexibility to change things on a day-to-day basis to accommodate energy fluctuations. Creating 90-day goals helps to stay focused on a few, truly valuable aims. Every day try to do one, small thing that helps you toward your 90-day goal. Some days that may be just thinking about how to get the next step accomplished. Some days it may be a visibly productive day. I am AMAZED at what I get done in 90 days with just one, small thing every day.
Trying to figure out where to start? What is something that will help you heal in the long-run?
Sleep through the night?
Have consistent daily activity?
Calm a flare-up?
Know which foods you are reacting to?
Start with something that will help you heal and build on that.
Believe that this could be the most amazing experience of your life. How many times in your life have you seen miracles come from what is first seen as tragedy?
I can't wait to hear how you answer the question: How does someone with autoimmunity get things done? Because you will. You will figure it out.
This is your adventure. Live it. Accept the challenge.
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