Q: An important question is: why would you want to get better?
A: Soon we will explore the underlying causes that physically resulted in YOUR having CFS/FMS. Before one embarks on a journey however, it often serves to reflect on where one really wants to go. Our first thought, when one is severely ill, is to go back to where we started. I would recommend however, that you consider moving forward — not backward. To go back to jobs, relationships, environments, roles, etc. that made you sick in the first place may not be the wise choice. As you have been pulled out of what, in some ways, may have been a toxic environment/situation, I would pause for a moment before moving forward. A good exercise to begin with is to ask:
Q: What do I really want?
A: Most of the people I’ve met with chronic fatigue syndrome immediately think about what they need to do or be to make other people happy when I ask them this question. My first job is to get them out of their brain — their lifetime of programming about who they think they should be or need to be, to be worthy of approval. Drop that for a moment. Instead, if you had no responsibilities — except to create a joyful life for yourself — what would that look like? Instead of your mind, use your feelings for a moment. From a centered place, what situations, thoughts, ideas, etc. FEEL GOOD to you. Let go of thoughts of why those things can’t be or shouldn’t be. Simply allow yourself to play with and get clear about what things FEEL good to you. Then hold those thoughts and images that FEEL good to you, and see where they want to go. Once you find those things that, from a centered place, FEEL good — hold those feelings and images for a few minutes. I strongly suspect that the things that FEEL good are a better guide to what you really want than what your thoughts are telling you. Stop “shoulding ” on yourself. Should do this or should do that. Give yourself permission to be okay with what ever feels good to you! I suspect that this is the lesson that CFS/FMS teaches us. That it is okay to be who ever we are and want what ever we want — regardless of whether anybody else approves (and regardless of whether it serves anybody else’s needs!). Once you learn this lesson, it will be much easier for your body to get and stay well. Anyway, why would you want to get well so that you can go back to doing something that you hate???
What this boils down to is a simple (after a good bit of practice) prescription:
- Stop interpreting things from your past experience so you can see them as they are. You can do that by letting go of all blame or guilt on yourself or others (this includes not feeling guilty for blaming somebody!). In addition, it helps to let go of any comparisons or expectations related to yourself or other people.
- Feel what ever you feel. When it no longer feels good to FEEL a feeling, let go of it. It is okay to feel anything — and nobody is responsible for what another person feels.
- Get clear about who you are and what you want by seeing what, from a centered place, feels good to you. Hold that image and good feeling for a few minutes each day (allow it to evolve– it will!), then let go of it and let it happen. During the day, only keep your attention on things that feel good. That’s all there is to it!
Dr. Teitelbaum is a board certified internist and director of the Annapolis Research Center for Effective CFS/Fibromyalgia Therapies, where he sees CFS/Fibromyalgia/Chronic pain patients from all over the world (410-266-6958). Having suffered with and overcome these illnesses in 1975, he spent the next 28 years creating, researching, and teaching about effective therapies. He is the author of the best-selling From Fatigued to Fantastic!” and the newly released “Three Steps to Happiness! Healing through Joy”. His web site can be found at: www.vitality101.com