I love the quote above because, in addition to helping you get all the work of healing done, reaching out for more support is healing at a deep level because it will remind you that you are not alone; that you are valued and loved. While it is an enormous help to have someone do your laundry and cooking or go to doctors’ visits with you, the messages that your psyche gets from that support are equally important. It helps you believe that:
• You are loved.
• Your suffering is seen.
• You and your wellbeing matter, even if you are not as productive, skinny, happy, or energetic as every advertisement and TV show seem to say you should be.
• You are not alone and there is hope.
Anxiety, fear, depression, and self-doubt are often fellow travelers with serious health conditions. Those feelings can both suppress your immune system and mess with your head. They make it difficult to take the initiative necessary to move your healing forward. Having people committed to your healing and involved on a regular basis helps remind you of all the truths listed above and can be an important protection against some of those hard feelings that can derail you. If you can hold onto all of those truths, it will ease every step of your healing path. Having a team to support you makes all the difference.
It is also good to notice that you are not alone, because, well . . . you aren’t. You are doing your healing work in the context of a myriad of relationships with family, friends, colleagues, health care providers, neighbors, and more. Each one of those relationships impacts your ability to heal in ways great and small. A family member can completely change to a no-sugar, no-salt diet to support your healing efforts, insist on having a house stocked with chips and cookies, or anything in between. One friend can ask about your healing work regularly, bring meals occasionally and offer to go to doctors’ appointments. Another friend might disappear from your life because they find your health challenge too stressful. As discussed earlier, their level ad quality of involvement in your healing actually affects your health in the long run.
Here is an example. Lisa is a 40 year-old small business owner with three young children. She has had Multiple Sclerosis for 10 years and struggles to manage her health while also growing her business. By working through the process of building a support team, she saw that her tendency to be self-reliant and keep her health struggles private had resulted in a situation where two of her main relationships were partially blocking her healing instead of contributing to it. She and her business co-owner are both night owls who work hard around the clock. Although Lisa had been trying to get to bed earlier and get more sleep, she had not had a serious conversation with her co-owner about it, to let her know and ask for her support.
Once Lisa did that and explained that she wouldn’t be answering emails or phone calls between 10pm and 7am anymore, expectations were shifted, her co-owner was able to actively support her healing more and they were able to work together to shift their work habits. Lisa uncovered similar patterns with her husband in their shared work of caring for their family and home. As she began to change how she communicated about her health with these two key people in her life, it had profound impacts on her ability to take care of her health.
The important thing to recognize here is that your choices impact your family, friends, and coworkers’ choices. You may not be able to control them, but you do have significant influence. This is where leadership comes in. Like Lisa, the more that you share thoughtfully with them about your healing work and invite them in, the more they will choose to join you in ways that will ultimately help lead both you and them to a healthier and more connected future.
If you can, take some time today to notice how the relationships in your life affect your health and how you might like that to see that changed someday soon.
As always, please let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear!