Happy 2013

New Year, Same You: Chronic Illness and the Turning Year

green juice anotherIt’s a new year and we are all so happy, excited, rip-roaring with delight towards all our new plans on our clean plates.

Or perhaps not.

How does the new year affect you when you are living with chronic illness?

Facebook is full of resolutions to exercise every day, eat healthily, drink more water, loose weight, get fit, run a marathon, write a novel or take embark on a daily photography project.

* Maybe you can’t get out of your pyjamas.

* Maybe you have tried exercising more, and you relapsed.

* Maybe you want to be well, to have toned muscles and cheerful thoughts but it’s just not where you are right now.

* Maybe you are feeling jealous of the people who can make a commitment to run every day, when that is beyond your reach.

* Maybe the New Year is very painful if it marks another year you’ve been ill, another year in which you haven’t recovered in or knocked anything off you bucket list.

Being ill can be very uncomfortable, but it can be uncomfortable for others as well, they see us with chronic pain, chronic illness or even disability and sometimes want to fix us, and suggesting resolutions can be a way that is expressed.

(I talk about this further and how to manage expectations in Pitch Perfect: What’s Wrong With You).

In many cases, if the solution were as simple as just drinking more water or going for a walk every day, we would have done it by now. We are not just dealing with our own thoughts and feelings around self-development, but other people’s too.

Acknowledge this, and begin to unpick the emotional tangle around the New Year before you make a commitment.

Personally I plan my goals at Calan Gaeaf, the celtic new year, and that feels the right time for me. It also means that I’m not surrounded by images of other people’s goals and I can tune in to what fits me, not what is the popular resolution this time around.

This New Year, I decided to take the pressure off myself, I realised that any thoughts about what I had or hadn’t achieved in the year were coming from me and so I had the power to change them!

Here’s what I want you to think about:

Q: How do you accept yourself and where you are when surrounded by invocations to be better, stronger, slimmer, happier, because a human implemented calendar turned over?

A: Remember that for some people, the new year is the chance they have been waiting for to start afresh, and that might work for them. If this doesn’t fit you, discard it, there are no rules.

You can re-ignite your life, your plans, at any time.

I believe there is something you don’t enjoy, a place where you are frustrated and cramped, something you are itching to change. Start there.

Begin where it is easy, success builds momentum.

If you are always fed up of looking at clutter around you and it impedes your life and impinges on your happiness then perhaps you can resolve not to create any more clutter. Or to clear a surface or a room per month.

How would it feel if you were free of that? Resolutions can be releases, we can let of of what is waiting to fall away in our lives, or create space for what it just about to enter.

Q: If you choose to make a resolution, pick a word, a focus, an intention for the year, how do you let it fuel you and not be another admonishment?

A: Begin, by being kind to your future self, if you plan goals that will be painful, how will you feel about them going into the new year?

When and if you are ready, join us in Trail Blazing Live, you can begin at any time, and it’s filled with love and no shouting. But the effectiveness is the surprise that comes with it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the new year! I love celebrating almost everything, but I am also aware of where my vulnerabilities lie. There is a place where celebrating and expressing gratitude for our blessings falls over into pretending we are prefect and I won’t take part in the collective pretence.

I don’t believe that one year, if we work hard enough, are good enough, if we cleanse, detox, manifest, and work on ourselves enough we will have a perfect life. Maybe this is the perfect life, the one with pains and dropped stitches and jumping cds and wonky photos.

Celebrating where you are now, over and over will help your new hopes come true. Begin there and let me know how it goes!

If you are looking for something to fuel your journey check out the Trail Blazers Manifesto here.

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