Chronic illness and guilt go hand in hand, it seems. There are so many types of guilt that we deal with every day that dealing with guilt becomes another symptom of chronic illness.
I often feel guilt related to living with chronic illness.
- Guilt at not being able to do the things others want me to do
- Guilt at having to cancel plans at the last minute
- Guilt that I may be causing my symptoms.
While my symptoms are largely under control now, I still have flares from time to time. When that happens I often find myself feeling guilty about what I’m not getting done, or at what I may have done to cause the flare.
Guilt is not healthy. It’s a negative emotion that creates stress and sucks our already limited energy away. Guilt is a stress-inducing, energy sucking enemy.
We internalize this guilt to the point that we spend our lives beating ourselves up and apologizing to everyone around us for something that isn’t even our fault.
And, for too many of us, guilt over cancelled plans is just the beginning. We suffer from guilt at even having an illness. We did nothing to bring it on, or to deserve it, yet we feel guilty just as if we did. We live life, minute to minute, feeling guilty for one thing and then another.
Chronic illness is not your fault!
You did nothing to deserve your illness. You are likely doing everything you know to do to feel better. It sucks that you have to cancel plans sometimes, or that you can’t even make plans because of the unpredictable nature of your illness.
But, there’s nothing to feel guilty about. It’s not your fault. Will others be disappointed on occasion? Yes. they will. But, again it’s not your fault.Your illness is NOT your fault. There's no need for you to feel guilty. Guilt just makes you feel worse. Click To Tweet
It’s time to let go of all the guilt you are carrying around.
It’s only dragging you down and stealing your limited energy. Guilt is adding to your stress, and it’s making your pain and fatigue worse.
Instead of saying you’d do anything to feel better (because you are already doing everything) do this one thing. Stop allowing yourself to feel guilty for everything.
I know it’s easier said than done. Guilt is a habit, it takes time, and it takes work to change a habit. But, it can be done.
When you catch yourself feeling guilty:
- STOP. Just stop what you are doing/ thinking, and take a breath.
- Tell yourself (out loud if you can get away with it) that it’s not your fault. You are doing the best that you can.
- Then take another breath and continue on.
There will be days when you have to do this many times, and that’s OK. Eventually, you will find you are doing it less and less, because you don’t need to.
You may find it helpful to keep a journal of how many times each day you have to stop and remind yourself that you have nothing to feel guilty about. Watching that number get smaller each day will give you a little thrill, and with that thrill a little boost of energy and positivity that you are on the right track.
Remember, you have nothing to feel guilty about.
- You are not the enemy
- You can change your mind
- 16 things people with fibromyalgia need to stop doing
- The guilt and blame game