What do you accept as truth? What lies do you tell yourself? And how does that limit you? What are you NOT daring to do? What life are you NOT daring to live?
This is where excuses come into play. Excuses are the little lies we tell others and ourselves to justify our choices. Some lies I have told myself in the past include: “I can’t run today because it is too cold outside”. “I would…but don’t have time”.
The danger in excuses is that we believe them and left unexamined they become our truth. What is worse is when we let other people and/or our life circumstances define our truth. Doing so relinquishes our power and puts us in the passenger seat of a race car with no seat belt where we get thrown around riding through life feeling like a victim of circumstance.
One place you relinquish your power (especially if you are a woman) is in the service department of a car dealership which is where I recently found myself waiting for 2 hours while the technician searched for the cause of the pool of water in the floorboard of my car. While I was waiting I was flipping through an Oprah magazine. I came upon two adjacent pages that were seemingly unrelated but yet summoned my attention. On one page there was an article about a successful, professional dancer that had been diagnosed with spondyloarthritis, a genetic painful rheumatologic disease, 15 years ago which wreaked havoc on her body and dance career. She continued to dance despite the pain which resulted in multiple reconstructive surgeries and strong daily medications which had unpleasant side effects such as hair loss. Eventually she had to stop dancing completely. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, she sought other options. She started listening to her body. She overhauled her diet by eliminating inflammatory foods and added healthier choices such as fruits, vegetables and legumes. She did not accept her circumstances as her truth. She took action and took back control of her pain and her life. She continues to dance professionally today.
On the very next page was an advertisement for a medication for Multiple Sclerosis. I was struck by this because both MS and Spondyloarthritis are chronic diseases that are inflammatory in nature and potentially very debilitating. Dietary choices play a huge role in the prognosis and outcome of both. But what was on my mind that day was my friend, Heather.
Heather is a mom in her early forties who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis 5 years ago. She had symptoms of fatigue, numbness in her extremities and weakness. Three years ago she occasionally used a cane when walking to help maintain her balance and prevent her from falling.
However, last year Heather hiked the lower third of the Appalachian Trail and last week she successfully completed the Tough Mudder, a 10 mile race with crazy hard obstacles which require strength, endurance, balance, determination and grit! To accomplish this she changed her diet, trained her body but most important she trained her mind. She stopped believing that there were limits to what she could do. She stopped labeling herself as a person with a disabling disease. She started listening to her body and believing in her own power and her body’s ability to heal itself. Now she lets her inner strength guide her and she shines!! Watching her journey is an amazing privilege!
Diagnoses are a way to categorize and label physical signs and symptoms. It does not have to be and should not ever be a label for people. I have the had the experience of knowing and even caring for people who became the epitome of those labels. One example is a woman who is the opposite of Heather. She had been given the diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 12 years prior to seeing me as a patient. Over the years she had gained weight, developed high blood pressure and high cholesterol which she attributed to being unable to exercise due to her fatigue. However, each time I saw her she seemed to feel well and have a normal energy level. If I suggested walking or taking up a hobby to get some exercise she reminded me she was “disabled” and “very limited” by her CFS. Subsequently, her life was very limited…by disease or choice. I often wondered how her diagnosis was serving her. Diagnosis or not it was a label she had decided to identify with as opposed to Heather who has decided she is not her diagnosis and it will not control her life. She is in charge!
What life hands you is not always up to you but what you do with it is! You have the power to take positive action and chart your own course. But it starts with being honest with yourself. Kick your excuses to the curb and seek the truth. Dare to question everything!!!