Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results. -Willy Nelson
For the last 5 years or so, I have actively worked with a counselor on looking at my thought patterns. It is strange for me because before I was on disability, I began my career as a teacher and counselor. I was quite adept at working with children through issues they were having with their own thoughts. Although I know of methods to work on re framing thoughts, to do work on your own self is a different thing entirely. I have spent a lot of time shifting the way I looked at my life and changes that I have faced. I dealt with stopping work, processing not having had children, and adjusting how I viewed myself and what it meant to be me living with an illness.
In addition to a counselor, for the past year or so I have delved into artistic expression and have taken courses that have a somewhat therapeutic aspect to them. They are not taught by psychologists, but other artists who have done work on themselves and share some of what they have learned. Recently I took part in an online retreat called “Woman Unleashed” that has provided me with some changed opinions on my physical body. I have lived with MS for 18 years and my legs have been a source of distrust for me for 8 years. They continue to weaken. I cannot walk far without an assistive device and am very unsteady on them. My balance is a never-ending issue and one that causes me a lot of trepidation when I am out moving around in the world where I am not always sure of what physical obstacles I will encounter. I am always looking way ahead to see what fall hazards are coming along my path. During a resent art session with Monique Debose on re framing your physical body and using I am statements to describe who you are, she started to move around to music. Instantly my sense of “not enough” and “not capable” began to surface. I almost turned off the video but thought “There is a lesson here for me.” My current “I am” was “My legs are not trustworthy and a negative thing in my life.” I sat in a chair and moved my body. I felt so free and a shift happened for me. As a former dancer, I always feel shame around movement now. How awkward my movement has become. After moving in the chair, I began to look at how resilient my legs are and how much they have overcome and bounced back from. I may not be as graceful, but I can still move and do things I love like garden and cook while standing on them. I also feel that my legs brought me one of my biggest joys in life, dancing. They have also allowed me to travel the world in my past and visit countless different countries. I walk around everyday thinking my legs are a negative thing and don’t focus on how much they have supported me throughout my life. I am going to focus on what my legs still can do and not on what they cannot.
I went away for the last few days and brought my newly purchased walker. I chose that I would walk everywhere I could with the walker. I went to the beach and for dinner. I did not worry about my legs at all. The walker allowed be to be more confident to move around and be more focused on the people I was with than what might be ahead of me. I also think the counseling and my art courses have again helped me to reframe the way I look at things. This time, it changed my perception of my physical legs. They are strong and will support me.
Thank you, Monique, for this valuable lesson.