Acceptance: The dystonia challenge

December 12, 2016

 “Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation. It means understanding that something
is what it is and there’s got to be a way through it.”
~ Michael J. Fox ~

Dystonia can alter the course of our life from subtle to dramatic ways, but it need not be how we define ourselves. Reaching the point where we can be at peace with this when living with such difficult symptoms is one of the hardest things we will ever do, but dystonia is not the definition of our life. It is not the book of our life. It is just one chapter of our life among many other chapters.

Work hard every day to think about your life right now and not the life you once had. This is the way everyone should live, dystonia or not. The past is over and as much as you may miss your former self, you must let go and live in the present.

Focus on things just as they are; not the way you think they should be. The changes that can come out of this acceptance are incredible. Take each day one at a time and fully embrace even the most seemingly minor accomplishments. Frankly, given our challenges, the things we do now are much greater accomplishments than before dystonia when everything was much easier. Honor yourself for this! With what many have to deal with, sometimes just getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Please acknowledge this!

Saying how much we hate dystonia won’t make it go away. I promise! Instead, find a way to cohabitate with it because no amount of anger will ever take it away. This has been one of the most important things I have learned (still learning) to better manage all of the symptoms that come with my dystonia, physical, mental, and otherwise. I had to learn to live with it rather than fight with it. The more I do this, the less power it has over me. This might sound counterintuitive, but it might be the best way for us to find peace and healing. Stop waging war on your dystonia. You will only get worse.

I had years of ruthless symptoms where I could barely speak sometimes because of the breathtaking pain, to starting a business, becoming a certified life coach, and writing a book. I still deal with some pretty rough symptoms, but my mind is in a better place where I am more at peace with how things are. This leads to greater acceptance and a greater ability to be more productive.

I am not near as productive as I once was and would like to be, but beating myself up over this is a complete waste of time and energy. I would rather focus what energy I have on my abilities, rather than all that is wrong with me. I invite you to do more of the same. Accept what is rather than dwell in the past or on everything you can’t do. Focus on your abilities. I know most of you do more than you give yourself credit. Please shift your mindset and celebrate yourself!

We all have periods when we feel overmatched and not up to the challenges, but we always get through the day. If you have a racing mind full of questions and concerns, please reach out to the many forums, support groups in your area, and dystonia organizations to talk with others who can relate. Dystonia can be distressing and exhausting. Share what you are thinking and feeling. Listen to what others are saying. You will find that you are far from alone.

You need not feel any shame. You have done nothing wrong to be in this situation. Take control and do what is best for you in order to better manage today, and just today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

It is not what happens to us in life that defines us. It is what we do with it that defines us. 

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and author of the book, Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey, a comprehensive resource for anyone suffering with any life challenge. He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, and volunteers for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, for WEGO Health as a patient expert panelist, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network. To learn more about Tom’s coaching practice and get a copy of his book, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.

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