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How Mental and Chronic Illness Can Make You More Efficient

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Sounds backward, doesn’t it? That you can be sick more than most, but be more efficient than them? But when you are used to being sick, you do something that most people don’t when they are sick: you give into it. You just let it be.
Sure, you throw your go-to remedies at it, you do the right things, but you also just give in and be OK with the fact there is nothing you can do.

When you physically can’t do things, you are suddenly granted magical permission to not do anything apart from rest and heal. When you are used to being ill, you let go of control and give into this permission much quicker than others. Because there really is no choice.

Yeah, it sucks being ill more than most, but there’s a free feeling that comes with it too, when you suddenly realize so many of the things you do that you see as “vital” are allowed to come to a halt, that you press pause and the world doesn’t end. It really does make us reassess how important all these “important” things really are.

When I think about many of the things I have to put on pause when chronic illness hits, I’m always surprised by how many of them are imposed by other people that aren’t even my priorities, or ridiculous self-imposed rules that really don’t matter.

With each crash or relapse, I find my ideas of what is really important changing yet again, peeling back the layers like an onion.

And what do I discover under all those onion layers of society’s imposed and self-imposed rules? I discover that I need:

1. Water.

2. Nourishment.

3. Fresh air.

4. Shelter.

5. Connection and love of some kind.

6. Passions and interests.

7. Medical and health necessities.

8. Enough money/ability to source all the above.

And it occurs to me what a very short list that is. I wonder how many of the things we worry about actually come under those headings? And if they don’t, then why are we making them such a priority?

Being a chronic illness and/or mental health warrior allows us to peel back layers that many, without those same struggles, don’t stop to think about. If you’re someone like me who hasn’t always struggled, you will see the stark differences between the things you used to think were important and what you do now.

So, how does that give us an edge?

It probably doesn’t feel like an edge most of the time but we really do have our priorities straight when we allow ourselves to fully embrace them. And efficiency is all about knowing your priorities. So many people make the mistake of bending their priorities to what the rest of the world wants, but our inability to do everything the world wants us to gives us the opportunity to do things differently purely because we don’t have any choice but to do things differently!

So if we have an edge over others, then why doesn’t it feel like it? And why do we feel like we are constantly under-achieving and missing out on the goals we plan?

I think one of the problems is, we are able to acknowledge that we don’t work like other people, and yet we still try to set goals and plan our tasks the same way as other people and then beat ourselves up because we seem to continually fail.

What if we just stopped trying to “achieve” in the ways other people do and stop trying to achieve the things other people tell us we should? Would we still feel like under-achievers if we stopped comparing ourselves and focused on achieving the small simple but hugely important goals that mean the most to us?

This is something that’s been bugging me a lot, especially when each New Year rolls around and I see people in my warrior community make plans for the coming year and then watch the disappointment as those plans unravel. That’s why I created a weekly goal planning and accountability group, especially for warriors. If you’d like help with your goals using a uniquely warrior-like approach (in a group of people who don’t take themselves too seriously) you’d be welcome to join us in The Sassy Classy Kick Up The Assy Accountability Group.

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

Originally published: January 14, 2019
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