What Perspective are you Viewing it From?

Happy 2012!!! Welcome to a new cycle, a new year, and a new opportunity to let go of the past and prepare for change. Whether 2011 was great, good, ok, not so great, or simply very difficult and tough, there is something common in everyone's 2011--it has passed. Everything passes and there is always something to look forward to, even if what is coming may be more challenging than what has come to pass. For people living with chronic physical illness, 2011 may have been a time of adjustment, of pain, of suffering, or of remission. What will 2012 bring? There is no way to really know. The only thing that can be controlled in the immediate present is how one copes in the moment--what perspective one takes.

Perspective! Why would perspective be an important factor? How can perspective or perception of the past, present, and future impact one's health? Lets take two hypothetical scenarios. In one case, a person who lives with physical illness had a very difficult 2011. This person experiences the immediate present as no different from the past or the future and expects 2012 to be just as hard. Another person who also had a tiring 2011, believes that 2012 will be much better. Some may assume that the second scenario is the healthier of the two; however, these two scenarios are not so different from each other. Both of these people are basing their expectations of the future on their past experiences (i.e. the past was bad therefore the future will be as well or the past was bad so the future must be better). However, there is really no way to know, unless time is a prognostic factor in one's particular illness.

In both of the above scenarios, the people living with the chronic illness are depending on change in something external (e.g. the illness symptoms will be better or a new medication will help),as if they themselves are passive. Sometimes when a trauma occurs, such as being diagnosed with a chronic illness, people can feel passive or helpless, as if there is no control over one's life, and as if things just happen to them. Considering the role of perception and perspective, taking an active and internal approach influences one's focus to one of the present. Questions that arise are, "how will I cope with my uncomfortable symptoms right now?" or "I feel great, what will I do right now?" This perception allows one to accept the past as something that occurred and view the future as something that will be dealt with when it comes, and most importantly experience the now as a moment for active choices to be made. "How can I feel the best about myself right now and what decisions that I make right now will impact my health for the best in the long run? Right now I choose to eat a healthy diet. I feel great about myself for doing something nice for myself right now." There is no need to focus on your ability to maintain the healthy behavior in the future, since if you focus on maintaining the behavior in the moment it is much easier to do it and you will see that you can. Just this moment! Just for now! Say it over and over again.

2012 will bring with it many uncontrollable events; however, how one deals with those events is controllable. Deal with each struggle or even each joy as it comes. You do not have to worry about how you will cope forever, but rather stay with the how you will cope right now. Happy 2012!