Perspective: Changing Focus

If it’s true that our experiences are based on perception .. what we pay attention to, then I’ve been doing it wrong. I talk a good game about staying positive. So good, in fact, that I’d fooled even myself. The truth, though, is that I’d begun to define myself by the state of my health. The way it impacts my life and the lives of those around me.

I had this picture in my head of what my life should look like. So any deviations from that ideal caused feelings of disappointment, guilt or powerlessness.

It’s said that the world we see is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. What I’m realizing now is that it’s fluid. That I have the ability to refocus. That if I change the way I look at things, the things I look at will change.

When I first found it necessary to use a cane, I viewed it as a failure. It was one more way in which my illness was winning and my body was letting me down. I was embarrassed by the stigma of it .. the declaration that I was weak, sick. These days I grab my cane whenever I go out. I’m thankful for it .. this tool that helps me keep moving.

The same was true for the medications I take. Their side effects left me frustrated and resentful. Yet these medications keep the worst of my pain at bay. They allow me to get out of bed and out into the world.

Not having a clear diagnosis has also caused me tremendous distress. The need to know exactly what this is and how it will progress consumed me. While what I have is progressive, it offers it’s own gifts. The chance to gradually come to terms and find acceptance.

Clearly this isn’t true of everything. It’s also an obvious oversimplification. Perception doesn’t change quantifiable data. I’ll still be 5’5. I’ll still have brown eyes. I’ll still have a neurodegenerative disease.

I’ll also still have the ability to choose to control the things I can. To seek inner peace. Something less dependent on external conditions than the capacity to surrender ego, worries and expectations.

“My goal is not to be better than anyone else, but to be better than I used to be.”

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