It is so hard to take care of ourselves, notice what’s going on inside our bodies and make mindful choices.  Even when those choices involve taking care of ourselves, there often is a sense of losing control when we say no to certain activities we’re used to doing, choosing to take care of ourselves instead.

When I describe it that way, check in with yourself and ask how you feel about that.  Consider those things you honestly feel you “should” do because they are good for you that seem inconvenient and take time, even though often we feel better afterwards.

Let’s look at physical exercise.   The exercises that feel so good as we’re doing them often hurt when it’s over – or maybe even while we’re doing them.

A client of mine has fibromyalgia.  While she’s working on improving her posture because that’s supposed to help with some aches and pains she is having, it’s painful to do the exercises.  It h-u-r-t-s!

Some may call that whining.  I call it being honest and in touch with your body.  And sometimes the truth of what we’re feeling isn’t pretty – it can be powerfully immobilizing.

Imagine a boxer showing up at a boxing ring with a tutu on.  Ridiculous huh?

Well, many times what’s asked of those of us struggling with pain is to show up in life with our most beautiful “tutus” on and do pirouette’s around the room.

Our “pirouette’s” may show up as hosting parties,  being there for other people who have “bigger problems than we do”, attending weddings in our finest attire, or decluttering the house for guests that are coming in from out of town. That’s just as ridiculous as a boxer showing up in the rink wearing a tutu.  Why?  Because it’s not appropriate behavior for how we’re feeling.

My client was hip to this idea.  We’d been talking about the importance of being mindful of her symptoms and flare-ups.  She was not about to host a party, had drawn firm boundaries with others who were zapping her energy, had declined numerous parties and had lowered her standards about decluttering her home for others.

The changes in her life were aligned with how she was feeling – low energy, unpredictable pain randomly circulating throughout her body, and mood changes were all part of her life right now.

It surprised her when she said to me the other day: “I don’t get it.  It is so tiring trying to be present with these symptoms and accommodate them.  I’m so sick of being mindful of what my body needs.  And it seems like once I make one adjustment, something new pops up. I do my exercises and take Motrin afterwards.  My depression goes away but my body hurts.  I rest and feel better afterwards and feel ready to talk to a friend.  I do it and feel zapped.  Will my life ever be normal again?”

I heard her pain on so many levels.  I understood why she feels as she does.  And I don’t have a solution or a crystal ball as to when things will shift.

The fact is that dealing with fibromyalgia is tiring and unpredictable. Little things can help like modifying your schedule and commitments.  Those same little things can be energizing when you do them and your heart is into them. Like the old saying goes, “it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.”

I wish I could wrap this message up with a bow on it.  I can’t say that fibromyalgia is a gift.  It isn’t.  Some days are harder than others.

What I do know for sure is with fibromyalgia, as with life in general, small simple steps work. When you’re tired, notice what you’re thinking.  What helps?  What doesn’t help?  Try something and see how you feel later.

I’m a big fan of Havi Brooks (no relation by the way) whose work is nothing short of brilliant.  Among other things, she talks about creating the Book of You.

This doesn’t have to be a physical book.  It can be a word document or it can be in your head – though I’m a strong proponent of writing things down to remember them (even if you never look at them again!).

In the Book of You, you keep track of 5-6 key feelings you have and what helps when you feel that way.

With this client, she’s noticed that when she feels tired exercise helps.  She uses Dance of Shiva, low impact aerobics by Leslie Sansone, and yin yoga by Paul Grilley as ways to increase her energy and lift her mood.  She chooses any one of these and inevitably feels better – even though it may hurt while or after she’s doing it.  They always work.

I invite you to create your own Book of You and feel free to share any questions or insights you have about this.

Please leave a comment!

Are you human? *