This story is based on an article I read called “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.” As I read it, I couldn’t help but think just how true so many of them are and that certain ones are especially appropriate for those of us suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and other debilitating conditions.
Here are 16 things I believe those of us with fibromyalgia need to stop doing:
1. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner.
If you have any sort of chronic debilitating condition, you need to put your own needs first. Even if you are the healthiest person on the planet, you shouldn’t let your needs go to the back of the line. Since fibromyalgia is most common among women, this is especially true as women seem to be told that their needs should come last after their husband, children, church, jobs, volunteer efforts and anything else that could possibly come before themselves. It’s any wonder we give ourselves any time at all; sadly, too many of us don’t.
2. Stop spending time with the wrong people.
If someone is adding stress to your life, that stress is making you sick. Remove the stress by removing that person. You may not be able to completely remove them, but you can choose to avoid them when possible.
3. Stop holding grudges.
Holding a grudge is an unnecessary stress. It causes us to create negative thoughts about a person and focus only on those negative thoughts when we should be trying to find ways to focus on more positive things. Let go of the grudge. You’ll still think of the person on occasion, but when you do, just shrug it off and replace it with a thought of someone you care about who makes you smile.
4. Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
The ability to say no is highly underrated. Too often those of us with fibromyalgia are unable to say no, feeling guilty when we can’t or won’t say yes. We can’t be everything to everyone — we can’t even be everything to ourselves, and we don’t have to be.
5. Stop lying to yourself.
You don’t feel great, and someone asks how you are. You answer with, “I’m OK,” but it’s not the truth. It’s not the truth when you say it to them, and it’s certainly not the truth when you say it to yourself.
6. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others.
If you can’t do something, keep it simple — just say no and move on. Don’t try to explain why you can’t do it because they might not be listening anyway.
7. Stop trying to hold on to the past.
While you may be able to find ways to improve your symptoms, you’ll likely never be 100 percent again. There will always be limits. Stop trying to regain the levels of life you had before your illness and realize that was then and this is now. Focus on what you can do instead of what you used to be able to do.
8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes.
Guilt and blame are our constant friends. Stop beating yourself up over things you’ve done in the past (or things you wish you had done but didn’t). It’s in the past, let it go and move on. Again, focus on what you can do in the future.
9. Stop being jealous of others.
It’s so easy to be jealous of what others have or what others can do. Little do we realize that they have limitations, too. No one sees the true life of another, their abilities or disabilities and their limits. Don’t judge your life based on the “Jones,” real or imagined. Focus on what you have that is wonderful.
10. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself.
It’s OK to throw a pity party once in a while, but I believe it should never last for more than five minutes, and you should never invite friends. Focus on the positives in life — there are many.
11. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments.
How many times have we heard that we should stop and smell the roses? You don’t really appreciate those small things until you can’t do them anymore. So, take a few moments each day and really think about the small things you were able to enjoy. Write them down so you can look back on them later when you are contemplating that pity party.
12. Stop trying to make things perfect.
They already are. OK, maybe they aren’t perfect, and maybe they can even be better than they are now. But the point is that you need to focus on reality instead of perfection. Take small steps to improve things and get closer to the idea of what you want your life to be like, not constantly worrying about how far from perfect you still are.
13. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t.
If everything is not OK, it’s OK to tell the truth. When a real friend or someone who really cares about you asks how you are, be honest. Stop answering with “I’m fine” if you aren’t.
14. Stop worrying so much.
You feel like life is out of control, and maybe it is. So don’t worry about it. Let life be what it’s going to be. Control the things you can control and let the rest go. Constant worrying will only make you feel worse.
15. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen.
You don’t want to wake up tomorrow in a flare, so it’s all you think about and you end up keeping yourself from sleeping, which results in waking up in a flare. Sound familiar? Well, stop it. Instead of thinking “I don’t want…” think “I want….” Focus on the good night’s rest you know you will get and how great you will feel tomorrow because you made the right choices about the things that are in your control.
16. Stop being ungrateful.
Be grateful every minute of every day. There is something wonderful to be grateful for. Say “thank you” for the small things and mean it. Instead of getting upset that someone did something you intended to do because it made you feel “useless” or like they thought you weren’t doing your part, be thankful they just freed you up to do something else you wanted to do.