Perhaps the most difficult aspect of living with Parkinson’s is managing my thoughts. When faced with ever present trembling, loss of balance, loss of strength and mobility, shuffle walking and other physical challenges, it is far too easy to get lost in dark, negative thoughts.
Quite often, these thoughts seem to come up spontaneously, typically when I’m struggling to do something physical. It might be getting out of a chair or doing up a button or preparing an avocado. I can feel the fear well up in my body. I can feel my throat tighten and my body tremble as my mind projects into the future, ‘What if I’m not able to do this at all? What if I’m not able to look after myself? What if I’m forced into taking medication in order to cope?’
The good news is that I’ve learned it’s the fear I’m already holding onto [the fear that’s already in my body] that’s at the root of these thoughts and I’ve learned how to deal with them.
Here are the things I do to help keep my thoughts as positive and healthy as possible:
- Live in the present moment. When I live in the present moment [focus on my breath or just look around and observe] there is no worrying about the future. There is no thinking actually.
- Practice acceptance, particularly, the present circumstances. I think it would drive me crazy if I constantly questioned why I have this condition and why I’m struggling. The fact is, I’m experiencing it and it is important for me to accept this. It has a purpose and I believe I understand the purpose [for me to let go of fear and help others who are trying to recover from PD].
- Have an optimistic outlook of the future: I see myself recovering. I see myself playing the guitar again. I see myself speaking to large groups of people about how I recovered. This gives me hope and hope is essential for healing.
- I talk to my fears: whenever I experience negative thoughts, I talk to them. I tell them that they’re just fear and fear isn’t real. I always feel better when I do this.
- I repeat positive affirmations: I say things like, ‘love is happiness and happiness is love,” or I list all the things I love to do, like going for a walk. This always puts me in a positive frame of mind.
- I encourage myself. I tell myself that I’m doing my best, and therefore, I’m doing great. When performing a specific task, I say, “You can do it! You’re doing awesome! You turned off that tap like it was nothing!”
As New York Yankees famed catcher, Yogi Berra, once said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” While Yogi may have gotten his math mixed up, he was right about the mental challenge of baseball, and the same is true of living with a degenerative health condition. Managing the mental side of things [your thoughts] is paramount to living as joyfully as possible, and eventually, recovering.
Have an awesomely positive day!