Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coping with Chronic Illness - You Do Not Need to Justify Your Existence

Coping With Chronic Illness - You Don't Need to Justify
“Never make excuses.  Your friends won’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.”  -Wooden

With some of my old friends I always had to excuse myself for being ill.  I had to say I was sorry to them over and over for something that wasn’t my fault.  And it made me angry. 

It also happened with people I didn’t know well, complete strangers, and friends I’m not as close with.  You wind up trying to justify yourself, your life, your decisions, in fact, your very existence.  You feel you always have to prove yourself to them, prove that you are acting reasonably.

You feel you constantly have to apologize for yourself.  And it makes you angry.

It turns into quite a big problem.  In fact, there was a period of time when I ended almost every single sentence with the word “sorry”.  (Finally my sister told me to’ stop saying ‘sorry’ all the time.  I didn’t have to be sorry for being me.  Me was good.’  I love her for that.)

No Excuses

So, I started implementing this “no excuses” line of thinking a few years ago.  I stopped making excuses for why I couldn’t do things.  I stopped trying to justify myself to everyone.  The decisions I make and the reasons behind them are my own business, not theirs.  I also stopped apologizing for myself. 

I mean, I still say I’m sorry for hurting someone or when I am in the wrong or when I am trying to make peace.  There are still reasons to say we are sorry.  But I don’t say I am sorry for my health nearly as much.  I still get the urge to say it, I just try to restrain myself.  I don’t apologize for being unable to meet their standards.  And in general I don’t explain why I can’t.  Some will make negative judgments based on that, some will give me the benefit of the doubt.  It’s not comfortable for me yet because I am still working on not caring so much what other people think (a post coming on that shortly).  But either way, not saying I’m sorry all the time makes me less angry, at others and at myself.

Don’t judge them harshly either

And it has taught me something.  That is: I can also be a fairly judgmental person.  I require justification from others.  I jump to conclusions about people often.  I base it on a decision they make, something they are or are not doing, something they wore once, something they said to me, something I heard about them, a bias I have, etc…  And later I often find out I was wrong.  Or I find they made a mistake and were sorry about it later.  I’m not so very unique compared to every other person I meet.

The good thing is I can work on it.   So, I’m trying to be less judgmental of others and more empathetic.  And I find that it can make a real difference, not only in my attitude toward them but in their attitude toward me.  Being less judgmental of them makes many people less judgmental of me in return.  And as a result, they don’t require me to say I’m sorry or justify myself.  Who would have thought it!?

And now it’s your turn.  Have you ever felt you had to justify your existence?  What do you do when you feel that way?

Other Coping With Chronic Illness posts:

 It's OK to grieve your losses
Knowledge is power
Do not eat, breathe, and sleep your illness
Part 1 - Friendship is a basic human need (the dilemma)
Part 2 - Friendship is a basic human need (who can be a friend?)
Part 3 - Friendship is a basic human need (10 ways to be a good friend while chronically ill)
Part 4 - Friendship is a basic human need (How to be a friend to a friend who is chronically ill)
2 Reasons why lying keeps you sick
Let go of the dream, accept reality, and be happy (it breaks your heart and then rebuilds it)
Accepting reality - what it does NOT mean
3 Ways to advance in a new direction
18 Ways to ward off sadness
I Can't Do It Alone
Talk.  And Talk Some More.

Energy Economy posts:

How to get food into our mouths while chronically ill part 1
Food part 2
Food part 3
Grocery shopping and chronic illness
Wardrobe considerations for the chronically ill - part 1
Wardrobe considerations for the chronically ill - part 2
15 suggestions for Leaving the house while chronically ill
14 suggestions for cleaning the house while chronically ill
Personal hygiene and chronic illness
Dealing with people while chronically ill
12 Ways to simplify your grooming and dressing routines
10 Ways to COPE with Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog, Fibro Fog)  
10 Ways to COMBAT Cognitive Dysfunction (Brain Fog, Fibro Fog) 

photo credit: <a href="">lanuiop</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</

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