In November 2017, I started writing a weekly column for international community web-site: http://www.theparkinsonsexperience.com This is my published article for week ending 9th December 2017.
Living with Parkinson’s is a challenge, at the best of times. How to juggle the demands of everyday life plus cope with the effects of a disease that zaps your energy and affects your ability to do even the most basic things, is the ongoing question? Yet, what we often lose sight of is that, whether we live with a chronic illness, or not, we so often create our own difficulty in life. Through our own irrational or unhelpful reactions and often due to a lack of preparation and planning, we can find ourselves in the most unpleasant states of difficulty.
Do you ever just stop to take stock of life and to consider how much of what is pressuring you, may be unnecessary? Most day to day stress is caused by the unnecessary. We have Parkinson’s, so do we really need the extra difficulty of unnecessary stress?
Are you too busy reacting badly, wrapped up with trying to blame others or feeling sorry for yourself over things you feel you have no part in or control over? In stress, you may feel powerless or even helpless. You may believe that the things causing you stress are beyond your control.
- Are they really?
- Did/do I have no part in that?
Try the following exercise:
- Write a list of twenty things in your life, that are causing you day-to-day stress. These should not be things caused by Parkinson’s.
- Next, take a moment to relax and just take slow, deep breaths. Pause.
- Now, identify how many of the things on your list are there because you have allowed them to become that way.
- Next, cross out everything else from your list; keeping only the things you identified in the last bullet point.
What do you notice? Are there more items on your list that you kept or that you removed? Most people find that there is more on this list that they keep, than that they remove.
The things in your list that remain are there because you identify them as being your responsibility.
This is good news!
How is this good news?
After all, we don’t want responsibility, do we? That might mean we have to accept fault/blame?
Well, the good news is this; if it is your responsibility, it means that you can do something about it. It is, ultimately, yours and so you can begin to take control. We cannot take control of what is not ours.
How Do I Begin to Take Control?
A simple action plan, for each item on your list, is all that is required. You don’t have to ‘fix’ everything immediately, but you can, at least, create one simple action for each item on the list that will help move it a step toward the change that you want.
My house is untidy.
I want a tidy house.
Create a housework rota.
Assess my storage.
Then, with each small step achieved, create another action and keep going until you achieve the bigger change. This enables progress and change, in small manageable steps. It is when we focus on achieving the overall goal, rather than on steps to getting us there, that we can feel overwhelmed and disempowered.
Remember, it’s okay to ask people in your life to help you, if you struggle to do this on your own. In fact, while in stress, we may already have turned down, not listened to or ignored help offered by others. It’s okay to ask for help.
We all experience difficulty, at times.
© Dean Parsons. 2017.