Releasing past pain and starting the new year differently
Being that it is a new year, which for many people is a time to say goodbye to the previous year with plans and goals for a fresh start, I wanted to write a short blog about the past and how hard it is for many of us to let go of who we were before the onset of dystonia or other health condition. On a few different occasions, I wrote blogs about emotional pain and feeling like a victim when faced with a health or other life challenge. In this blog, I will share some ideas for getting out of that mindset. Mindset is a muscle, so it is important that we exercise it properly.
A big reason for our emotional pain is being stuck in the past; how life was before dystonia, or other health condition or life challenge. We need to find a way to release the past. It is not who we are anymore, no matter how hard we try. We can be whomever we want right now, even with our challenges. We may not be the same person as before, and we have to learn to be okay with that, IF we want to be happy. We also need to be open to the possibility that we can be even better than before. I know how crazy this might sound, but there is something called Post Traumatic Growth which is a very real and powerful thing. Click here to read more about it. Please also see my new book, Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges, where I discuss this and related topics in more detail.
By no means is ‘letting go’ as easy as I am making it sound. I completely understand that it is a process that unfolds at our own pace. It is something I have to work on every day. The more I work on it, the better I am able to release the past and embrace the me I am right now. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating it is and how much better it makes me feel when I am able to do it.
I would like to say that I freely do whatever I want whenever I want, but that is not always the case. There are days when things are far too uncomfortable because of my pain and other symptoms of dystonia. Therefore, I do my best to live my life within the boundaries of my abilities and work hard to accept that I can’t always do everything I want, or some of the things I used to. If I don’t allow myself to come to terms with the reality that life is different now, I will mentally torture myself and become a victim of circumstance.
I did this for far too long and it resulted in so much pain. I had to learn to let it go, and as mentioned, I still have to work at it every day. Finding joy in whatever I do is where I try to put my focus, so the past does not determine my present or future happiness. I feel I have better accepted the challenges I live with and learned to ride the fluctuating waves that each day brings, but I am still a work in progress and I make sure to acknowledge that progress. If we kick constantly kick ourselves for not being all we wish we were, painful times turns into chronic suffering where nothing at all is joyful. We have to remember that we don’t need to feel perfectly well to enjoy life.
Every night I go to bed praying I will wake up with fewer symptoms than I had the previous day. If this does not happen, I am better at not fighting what I can’t change physically about myself in the moment, but it comes with constant practice over a long period of time, and I still falter. What I have learned is that I can only change how I respond to how I feel and do my best to be grateful for whatever I am able to do on that given day.
When we focus on the abilities we have now, acceptance follows, giving us greater peace of mind. By holding onto what once was, we trap ourselves in a vicious cycle of emotional pain.
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.
Beautiful people do not just happen.
– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross –
Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015) and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers Network, The Mighty, Patient Worthy, and The Wellness Universe. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit www.tomseamancoaching.com. Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.