As patients who live with incurable diseases, we hear and use phrases like “chronically ill,” “chronic illness warrior,” “overcome” and “fighting” our diseases (among many others) a lot. They have become staples in our communities to unite us and give us strength.
Have we ever stopped to think of the power of our words?
Even though these common words and phrases can bring us comfort, they may also unknowingly bring up anger, resentment and emotional pain. This was my personal experience for a long time before I came upon holistic health and complementary medicine.
Within the world of complementary medicine, the power of words is a popular topic and one that I have been very interested in on my journey with Crohn’s Disease.
While I am an autoimmune disease patient who lives with (sometimes unpredictable) physical and emotional symptoms that come along with my illness, changing how I choose to think about and speak of my disease has been a crucial part of strengthening my health and increasing my quality of life.
I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing at first:
How can our words really help us feel better when we live with a chronic illness?
While it may not be a typical tool we turn to when we are feeling bad, our language is powerful, has strong energy and can be an important ally on our journey to thriving and living well with illness.
Let me explain:
Have you ever said “My stomach is in knots” or “My joints feel like they have a heartbeat“? What physical reaction does your body have when you say these sentences out loud? When I say statements like these (usually when I’m feeling off), my body physically reacts to match my words in not so great ways.
Have you ever said “My heart is bursting with joy!” or “I am so happy that I could explode!“? Try saying these sentences out loud (with the emotion attached to them) and see how your body responds. I know that when I say statements like these ones, I can physically feel my body reacting to mirror my language in positive ways.
It may sound silly, unrealistic or “out there”
But positive affirmations and having a positive outlook on your health, your disease and your life are tools that you can have in your toolbox (if you choose to) that may help you gain your quality of life back.
While re-wording our statements is an amazing start, it is also important to have resources to lean on when making this mindful change gets tough. Two books that changed my life (in terms of positive affirmations and having a positive relationship with my disease) are:
- You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
- The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanagan
If this resonates with you, I urge you read about it, research it and try it for yourself. Re-word your sentences to frame your life experience in a different, more uplifting way and see what happens. It will feel funny at first and you will think that it will never stick but that doubt is just the beginning of something great. If you keep at it, you might just wake up one day and begin to see your disease and your world in a whole new light.