A woman with lupus confidently walking up a flight of stairs into a bright sunshine filled sky.

In Five Years, Part 2

Let’s go back to something from Part 1…THINK - FEEL - ACT!

THINK

Making a choice to choose our thoughts, rather than continuing down the path of thoughts that no longer serve us.

This is especially valuable for people living with chronic illness since we deal with so many things that can put us into a tailspin of negative thinking. Consciously choosing to change our thought in that moment from something negative to something positive.

For example: “I hate my life, I’m never going to be able to do what others can do!” Is that statement 100 percent true? How do you know? Have you questioned it? What if we change that statement into something more truthful that can support us better, such as: “I’m willing to learn how to navigate my life better with lupus. Although I may not be able to do everything I want right now, I am willing and able to work on building my strengths where I can and try new things. Today doesn’t mean forever.”

FEEL

We can do this three ways…The first comes as a direct result of our thoughts. If we are able to move these thoughts into a more positive mindset, the feelings that associate with the thoughts should also be positive. Make sense? Okay, so what if we aren’t as good at changing our thought patterns from negative to positive? In that case, start from feelings.

Create an environment or experience to put you in a positive state. This could be from listening to music that makes you feel happy and light, maybe even prompting you to dance around (don’t worry…no one is looking! Ha-ha). It could be taking time out to think about someone or something you’re grateful for and feel love in your heart (we can immediately create a positive feeling from gratitude). How about taking a walk (or sitting) outside and enjoying the beauty of nature? Maybe you’re able to get physical and exercise, building up a good sweat! However you can get there…get there (with the exception of using food, drugs, alcohol)!

Now that you’ve gotten yourself into a positive state of mind…feeling happy, grateful, energetic…wait, what…you haven’t? You mean it isn’t always that easy? No, it doesn’t always work as quickly or consistently as we want or need it to. That’s okay.

We have another way to feel our way into taking action. Ready? You’re not going to like it at first. It actually falls right in line with the title of this piece, “In Five Years.” You’re going to imagine what your life looks like if you don’t change. I’ll say it again for the cheap seats in the back. Use that imagination of yours, and visualize exactly what your life looks like if you don’t make the changes you want (or need to).

Feel the consequences! Really dive into the feelings…do you think you’ll be happy? If you don’t take action, what does your life look like down the road? I’m thinking it’s not great…I’m thinking you may be feeling sad, angry, upset, scared, and even desperate. I want you to see and feel what that person’s life looks like, your life. The chances missed out on, the love not felt, the fun not had. Now I want you to think about what your life looks like if you DO take action and make the changes you’d like for your life. Really feel this now…put yourself in that new life. What does it look like? Who are you with? How do you feel physically and emotionally? Feel the happiness, joy, connectedness, positive energy! Get really specific…what could this life look like if you were to take action? Can you feel it? Stand up and raise those arms up to the sky…feel that life…your life! I know it sounds silly. Do it anyway! That energy your feeling…that is what is going to help you to take action.

ACT

You knew we’d get here eventually…it’s time for action! For many people, myself included, it can be rather difficult at times to take action, especially if you’re a perfectionist or a highly analytical person (paralysis by analysis). Have you known anyone to spend countless hours researching the best product or steps for X,Y,Z only to have gotten overwhelmed and wasted so many hours that they don’t actually ever buy or do X,Y,Z? So, let’s remove this barrier.

Taking action does not need to be perfect. You do not need to do countless hours of research. You simply need to take a step…then another…then another. Now don’t get me wrong, planning and roadmaps are nice (and even necessary at times), but I do not want this becoming the barrier to you taking action. Therefore, we want to create small, doable action steps that do not require more thought than this.

Movement is the name of the game…not motivation. If we wait for motivation, we will never have consistency in taking action. I’ve spoken with many individuals over the past 30+ years about drive, action and motivation…every single one shared that they do things in spite of how they feel, they “just do it!” I always hated hearing that…hated it! This is where the FEEL section above can help us out, because although we should not wait to “feel” motivation in order to take action…we can use the positive energetic feelings we created above to propel the action forward. We can always change our state of being by choosing different thoughts and creating more positive feelings.

Thinking about what your life might look like in 5 years can be exciting or terrifying. My hope is that you now get excited about the actions you can take in order to make your life more of what you’d like to see down the road…and today!

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