Changing My Perspective Was the Toughest Pill to Swallow
How I benefited from focusing on the positives in life
The gentle sound of wind chimes filled the house. Then the short melody repeated itself. And again. Every time the tune played, I heard my daughter mumble, “Alexa, stop.” She was never an easy child to wake up.
Lying in bed, I listened to her become increasingly angry at her virtual assistant. Over and over she repeated her command until she was full-on screaming at the little black box: “ALEXA, STOP!” But the wind chime music played on, unfazed — because it wasn’t coming from Alexa, but rather the alarm on her phone.
While I had a good chuckle listening to this teenage meltdown, it also reminded me of an important lesson I’ve only recently learned.
I used to spend a lot of time “yelling” at the changes scleroderma has inflicted on my body. From my hands not fully opening to the disappearing act of my lips, I was constantly screaming inside.
The annoying alarm of my disease was ringing out reminders all day, every day. And no matter how hard I tried to command it to stop, nothing changed.
It was like I was screaming at Alexa to turn off my symptoms. I was focusing all my energy on things I couldn’t control and making myself more frustrated, sad, and angry. And the worst part was that I couldn’t blame scleroderma for those feelings.
Changing my perspective with mental workouts
It took me about six years to realize I needed to shift my focus to what I could control. And it took another year to break the habit of giving all my attention to scleroderma. But it was worth the effort. The annoying alarm in my head has finally been silenced, and I now spend more of my daily moments free from scleroderma.
The strategy that’s helped me the most is to change every negative into a positive. Whether inside my head or out loud in conversations, I force myself to pivot out of hostile thoughts. Following are some examples.
When staring at my pencil-thin lips in the mirror and feeling overcome by loss, I intentionally say to myself, “Enough of that! Look how smooth the skin is around my eyes. I’m going to accent those beauties with some eyeliner.”
If my hands begin to cramp while chopping carrots, I say cheerfully, “I can use those chopping scissors I always forget to use!”
As soon as I start gasping for air upon overexerting myself, I think, “This is the perfect time to take a break and look at the clouds.”
And my favorite: When someone asks me about scleroderma or how I’m doing, I always end my response with something like, “I’m doing so much better than I thought possible!”
The right mindset has healing powers
Honestly, these thoughts felt like downright lies in the beginning, but the more I pressed down on the negatives, the less control they had over me. And the more I practiced countering each negative with a positive, the more natural it became. Until one day, I was speaking the truth.
I still have scleroderma, but I’m finally happy again. Changing my perspective has freed up space in my head to notice all the beautiful moments and gifts I’ve been blessed with. And I’m finally focusing on my personal growth and finding ways to improve what I can control.
Don’t get me wrong, some days are harder than others. And just like any challenging workout, if I show up, put the effort in, and do my best, things will eventually get easier.
Start your workout!
I encourage my fellow scleroderma warriors to consider changing your perspective. Start your mental workout by forcing negative thoughts and feelings out of your mind and turning off that annoying alarm clock. Scleroderma doesn’t have a say in this!
Note: Scleroderma News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Scleroderma News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to scleroderma.
I thoroughly agree about changing perspective and changing a negative into a positive. Ive been dealt with Scleroderma since 2010, Symptoms were there before diagnosis. I thank being a very positive person .....who just plods on the best way that is possible. Going with the flow with good days and bad.