"Who are you without your disease? What makes you more than just your disease? How have you adapted these aspects of your life so they're not completely overcome by your illnesses?"
I came across this question yesterday on a web site, and I just knew I had to respond, so here goes.
I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2008. I have had times where I could hardly walk, and with the help of the medical systems, there are times when I live a fairly normal life. For quite some time prior to last year I really wouldn't have known how to answer the question "who are you without your disease?" When you're shuffling down the street, virtually everyone you know asks if you're okay and "what's going on?" You answer "I have RA" and you very much get into "a man with a disease" mode.
Last year my father told me a story about a woman with MS who would tell anyone that asked her a similar question "I have MS." One day, someone looked her in the eye and said "you don't have MS, MS has you." Alarm bells went off in my head. This was a message for me too. I was traveling through life with my dis-ease as my driver, RA was defining my life. Did it really have to be that way? I didn't think so. P.S. That woman with MS is now training for a marathon.
Who am I without my disease?
Today, that question is very easy for me to answer. I am a man that has experienced dis-ease and am now doing my part to eliminate dis-ease from our society.
A lofty goal you might suggest? Hear me out. If not me, then who? If not now, then when? There are a lot of people that have this same goal, whether they've consciously thought about it or not.
Since being diagnosed, I have read a lot and experienced many different Eastern and Western treatment options. My belief system suggests that our human body is meant to heal and if we give it the environment to heal, it has an amazing ability to heal itself. When we cut our finger or break a bone, the body jumps into healing mode and we're good as new in a short time.
In a swimming pool that is balanced, algae won't grow. It is well documented scientifically that in a human body that is balanced, dis-ease won't manifest itself either. But when stresses and other factors start to affect our bodies, we begin to take the system out of balance and we create an environment that gets out of balance for healing.
There are so many things that we can do to help eliminate stressors from our body, including the obvious two of diet and exercise. But I happen to believe the most important thing we can do is to simply LIVE OUR LIFE, truly live it. I live my life under 5 principles, each of which has been a title for a blog post:
1. Expect synchronicity -
2. Examine limiting beliefs -
3. Speak your authentic truth -
4. Love vs Fear, you have a choice -
5. Get off the sidelines -
I blog regularly suggesting that many people are living their lives trying to please other people rather than pleasing themselves, or living their life full of regrets. I believe that if people are taking steps toward fulfilling their dreams, however small or large the dream may be, that they start to bring their swimming pool back into balance, bringing their body into a state where dis-ease cannot manifest itself.
I believe that our only limitations to achieving our dreams are the self-limiting beliefs we impose upon ourselves.
I believe that our body gives us signs when it is in stress and that if we listen to and deal with the signs when they first appear, we can bring our bodies back into balance, before dis-ease manifests.
I believe that if everyone chose to live their best life now (thanks to my friend Priya for that phrase), we could eliminate the onset of new dis-ease.
I believe in miracles, having read and heard of many stories where people have received their diagnosis and said "that's not going to work for me", then their symptoms have disappeared at some point in the future. I know this isn't always the case, but I believe in miracles just the same.
I believe that if one person hears my story and makes the change to bring their life into balance for them, then I'll have made a difference, moving society one step closer to the elimination of dis-ease.
I sometimes find myself thinking of my onset of dis-ease as a blessing. That may sound crazy, but it served as a massive wake-up call for me. And if it hadn't happened, I probably never would have taken the time to understand my own self-sabotaging and limiting beliefs.
I have a lot of beliefs and a lot of dreams. And I'm taking steps to achieve them every day.
Who am I without my dis-ease? I almost forgot I had it.
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