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!