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Fun To Failure To Fuel: Turning Negative Thoughts To Positive Actions

Saturday was a great day.

We have friends who own a small winery and we decided to drive down and see them. We always love visiting them there because they do such a wonderful job of making sure everyone who comes through the door feels welcome right away. You may go in as a stranger, but you leave as a friend. Several of us are retired military, so we sit around telling ‘war stories’ about all the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met,  and the jobs we’ve had.

We planned to go down, grab some lunch there, visit for an hour or so, and head back home. Four hours later I happened to glance at my watch, and man, was I surprised to realize how late it was! We had been having so much fun the time had just flown by.

Saturday night was a nightmare.

Although the chairs we were sitting on had cushions, they were still wooden chairs, and by 8:00 that night my body was just a giant mass of pain.  We went to bed at our normal time, but I probably didn’t get more than a couple hours’ sleep.

As I lay there in pain, I couldn’t help but feel defeated. One of our topics of conversation that day had been taking RV trips. For a long time, it’s been a dream of my husband’s to take an RV trip to visit the national parks. I couldn’t help but think, “if I’m in this much pain from sitting and chatting with friends, how could I possibly do something like that?”.

I know this may sound weird, but because my pacing and careful planning allow me to lead a somewhat ‘normal’ life, I sometimes forget the limitations my fibromyalgia imposes. When I’m jarringly reminded, as I was Saturday night, it often knocks me for a loop.

When that happens, my thoughts can turn to a dark place. I start to wonder if I’m holding my husband back because I can’t do all the things we’d like to do. I also start to wonder if I’m failing him because I don’t take prescription medication for my fibromyalgia. Because I have a history of strange side effects with meds, I choose to use a more natural approach to managing my symptoms, but I sometimes wonder if I’m costing my hubby some quality of life because I won’t take medications that could potentially help me.

After wrestling with these unproductive thoughts for a while, I realized that rather than dwelling on my limitations and feelings of failure, I could use the RV situation as an incentive – to eat nourishing foods, stick to an exercise program that helps me become stronger and increase my energy levels, to do all the things that help me feel better and manage my symptoms and maybe, just maybe, I could be ready for a trip like that next summer.

It could also give me a goal to work toward. I’m the type of person who always needs some type of concrete goal; that’s just the way I’m wired. Having the goal of being ready for an RV trip could help me stay on track with my self-care plan when I’m tempted to let it slide and keep me moving forward when things get difficult.

I don’t like the negative thought processes I get caught up in sometimes, but honestly, sometimes they’re the very things that act as a springboard for action. It’s normal, especially when unending pain is a part of your everyday existence, to have negative thoughts and feelings.

The key is not to remain in that negative headspace. It’s okay to visit, we just don’t want to live there. We need to use these thoughts and feelings to propel us forward, not allow them to hold us back.

After acknowledging and dealing with our negative feelings about a given situation, we have a huge opportunity – the chance to take the lessons we learn from them and turn those lessons into the fuel we need to power our efforts. Simply asking ourselves, “what can I learn from this?” is often enough to shift our thought processes and help us start looking at solutions rather than problems.

Whether we’re working toward getting ready for an RV trip or working toward getting out of bed and dressed each day, turning those negative thoughts and feelings into positive actions can provide the fuel we need to move us toward our goals.

What have you found most helpful for turning negative thoughts into positive actions? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

 

 

 

 

22 comments

  1. I have totally been there many times. It’s such a frustrating scenario. But that’s some great advice about allowing the negative thoughts, but not dwelling on them. It’s something I’m working on with my psychologist too. Gentle Hugs.

    1. Thanks so much Sonja! It is frustrating, isn’t it? I’ve found that I do much better if I just acknowledge how I’m feeling then start to look at what I can learn from it to help me move forward. Hope you’re doing as well as possible. Gentle hugs to you too!

  2. I could so relate to this post, Terri. Frustration bumps that set us back. I encourage you to think about the RV trip. Especially if it takes you south to Arizona. As you know, we did it last year, and while I was resistant at first, I found it was just what I needed. We are making plans to go again this winter. Meet you there?

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement V.J.! I enjoyed reading about your adventures so much, and often wondered if I could actually do it. I really do need to give it some serious thought….

      1. What makes it so doable is that you are travelling with your home – all the amenities, food, etc that you need. We also made a pact not to travel longer in a day than my body could tolerate. RVing gives you the flexibility of staying longer if you need to and leaving early if a place is not working out. I felt like it re-ignited my passion for life. That said, as we gear up to go again, I have reservations – old fears, fuelled by my limitations. Argh!

      2. You make some great points! Now you just have to remember them as you start to have those reservations.😊 I think one of my biggest issues is my anxiety when it comes to being on the road. I don’t do well in the car, so I’m afraid I’ll be even worse in a huge vehicle like that…. I hope you guys thoroughly enjoy your excursion this year – I’m sure you will!

      3. I remember someone telling me that driving in an RV is more relaxed than driving in a car. It’s true. Ric drives in the slow lane, doesn’t worry about getting ahead – and the view is great. You’ll get there.

  3. What a wonderful day, you know when it’s good because you don’t notice the time zip by so quickly. I’m just so sorry you were then thrown back into the reality of fibromyalgia when dealing with the pain afterwards. I tend to see it now as ‘par for the course’ when doing anything, that I’m going to pay for it afterwards, but just to try to manage it as best I can. You do incredibly well holding things together with working on pacing and trying focusing on the things you can do, but it’s easy to see how thoughts can spiral and tumble and reach dark places. I love that you’ve come from that to showing how it can be used as fuel, as an incentive to do whatever we can to look after ourselves and still live the lives we want to lead, just with some adjustments. Never give up that hope and that fire, Terri. I think you can make a trip next year, I know you can. xxxx

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement Caz! Like you, I know if I overdo things I’m going to pay the price, and I usually do a lot better with pacing myself. I have to say, it was worth it though! We hadn’t seen our friends for a few months, and it was wonderful to have the chance to visit and catch up with them. Finding the lessons in the difficulties has really given me purpose through all this. I hope you’re doing as well as possible sweet friend. Love and hugs!

    1. Thanks so much Sarah! The road would never be the same again if the four of us went on a road trip together!😂 We’ll definitely have to chat. Hugs!

    1. Thanks so much Brigid! My hubby is on board with the no medication thing as well…. I just feel bad when we can’t do things we’d both like to do because of my limitations. Hope you’re doing well. Hugs!

  4. I’m glad that you haven’t let temp setbacks or negative feelings stop you from staying drug free. I am coming at this from the complete opposite side… I am on so many drugs but the goal is to work on diet and exercise to fight ms and wean off of medications. I hope I can stay as strong when I get the negative moments and don’t question my decision

    1. Thanks so much Grace. I’ve always said that I don’t have any problem taking medication if I need it, and I encourage others to work with their doctors and if they need medication to take it, but as long as I can have a decent life and do the things I need to do, I’m going to stick with lifestyle-type things. I’ve been very blessed to have doctors who have been on board with my ‘minimalist’ attitude when it comes to meds.😊 Hope you’re doing well sweet friend! Hugs!

  5. It’s wonderful that you had a great time, and allowed yourself to slide out of the protective zone for awhile to just enjoy life. Not so wonderful the payback. 🙁 I feel you, I control the pacing and everything carefully to avoid flares but sometimes you just have to live.

    We often talk about getting a camper so we can take off whenever we feel like, even to go camping nearby. I worry about longer trips too, but what V.J. Knutson said makes so much sense. It’s just a new normal with a different kind of pacing.

    If you’re up for it, go for it. My 4 month road trip down to the bottom of Mexico after university is still one of my highlights. Hope you’re feeling better! 💕

    1. Thanks so much for you encouragement Amanda! I love your comment that “sometimes you just have to live.” I agree 100%! There are many times that I know doing something is going to cost me pain-wise, but determine it’s worth it to me to do whatever it is….😊
      The possibility of an RV trip is going to be my ‘fuel’ through the winter to help me stick to my self-care plan. Sending hugs your way!

  6. There are times when we all go to a dark place and wonder what if, but I feel as long as you stay true to who you really are things will work out in a positive fashion. Thanks for sharing your experience Terri.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment Mark. You make a great point about remaining true to who you really are. That’s what lights our way and helps us see the path out of the darkness. I’m a natural-born learner, always looking for the lessons in any situation, and this was a good lesson for me. 😊 Blessings to you!

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