I am no longer available for fear
I'm no longer available for fear
Okay, so I had a nasty stomach virus recently. It only lasted a couple days, and it wasn't the end of the world. No big deal, right? Well....
If you've never had a stomach bug before (seriously, who are you?), let me introduce you to it - it's filled with fun symptoms like gas, abdominal pain, fever, bloating, vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. Fun stuff.
Most of the time during this stomach bug, I felt fine mentally. However, at various points, I would experience a wave of fear that washed over me. What if I always feel weak? What if this sets off symptoms like I used to have? What if I can't work? What if I can't stand up because I'm too weak anymore? What if I can't eat because I'm so nauseated again?
Are these thoughts that typically accompany a stomach virus? Well, probably not. But, for those of us that have struggled with chronic health issues - or health crises in the past, new symptoms can bring up old fears. I thought I had banished some of these fears over the past almost 7 years, but it turns out they were still there - just hanging out under the surface.
For those of you that aren't familiar with my health story, here is a video that goes into detail (Click here to watch). But, the nutshell version is that I experienced pretty intense symptoms for several years - weakness, intense fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, dizziness, headaches, extremely low and erratic blood pressure, couldn't sit up or stand up without passing out, low blood sugar, and several nutrient deficiencies. I was given all kinds of crazy and scary diagnoses – the worst of which involved my autonomic nervous system shutting down (I was told this at 27 while in the hospital). I truly believe it is one of the scariest sensations - being on the verge of passing out, feeling weak, and feeling out of control of your body. So, the inability to stand up for more than a few minutes without feeling like I was going to pass out again was terrifying.
It immediately brought up fear.
It brought up painful and scary memories. Yes, I've been feeling very healthy for the past several years. But, that fear - that was still there.
I had a choice. I could give in to the thoughts. I could walk down the road with them. I could let them settle in and take root. I could allow them to consume my mental energy and I could choose to be filled with worry.
I could choose a different path. I could stop worrying about the little things. I could list evidence for why these thoughts weren't true. I could counter them with rational thoughts. Is it possible that I could feel weak forever - maybe? Is it likely? No. Heck no. Is my body in a COMPLETELY different place now. Yes. It absolutely is. Have I spent a tremendous amount of time and energy working on healing myself? Absolutely. Is this ONLY because I haven't eaten in a full day and have a fever? Of course. That helped. It wasn't enough, but it helped. It helped a lot, actually.
I needed to do a little more work. I noticed the thoughts without judging them. I thanked them for reminding me of a time when I was completely disconnect from my body....when I had no idea that my body was screaming for attention and healing. I thanked them for reminding me of a time when I needed to hit the breaks - hard - and to reassess what was important in my life. I thanked them for reminding me that I would never ignore my body and that I would always prioritize my health - mental, physical, spiritual. I choose to remind myself that I loved my body and myself, and I would continue to love myself even if I had bizarre symptoms forever.
I didn't magically stop experiencing worry. I worked at it. I bet I'll work at it again at some point in the future. Shifting your mindset from fear to acceptance, love, and gratitude is not a one time event. It's a process. It's choosing to do that work EVERY time an event presents itself to you. It comes up for me less and less now. But, if you're in the thick of it and this is coming up often for you - just roll up your sleeves and get dirty with it. Deal with the fear. Overcome your fears. Change for success. Choose to change your thoughts in that moment. Keep choosing it. It will lessen - in both frequency and intensity.
I opted out of fear. I decided that I was no longer available for fear. It wasn't an option. It just simply wasn't. You can opt out too. Just remember that you can ALWAYS choose what you want to feel and think.