You Are Not Your Illness (Lessons from the Darkness)

You Are Not Your Illness (Final Lesson from the Darkness) - Linden Botanicals

Final Lesson from the Darkness: You are not your illness. Your challenges don’t have to define you.

One Last Truth – Your Illness Does Not Define You

We’ve covered seven lessons from the darkness. I shared these lessons and observations to help you avoid or steer your way through chronic illness. Underlying each of these lessons is a truth that is critically important to remember: Your illness does not define who you are.

You Are Not Your Illness

Yes, your condition is part of your life, but it doesn’t need to be part of your identity. No matter what your diagnosis may be, you are not limited nor controlled by what ails you.

If you need an example, consider the life of Richard Turner. His illness, retinal degeneration, was a slow progression to blindness. While losing his sight, he took up cliff diving. After becoming blind, he became a blackbelt in karate, winning competitions against sighted opponents. He also became the world’s greatest card mechanic.

Embrace what you can do. Recognize yourself as a human being. Discover your true identity beyond your illness.

Let Go of the Illness Mindset

It’s easy enough to say you are not your illness, but it’s difficult to live with a chronic illness without negativity and self-judgment. It’s hard to avoid thinking about tomorrow’s pain and loss. Living with a chronic condition is a true struggle, and it often leads to tangible loss — sometimes the loss of jobs, financial security, friends.

But there’s a greater loss when we allow ourselves to be defined as our illness. We are conditioned to approach illness on the basis of pain, fear, and deprivation. As a result we miss life-expanding opportunities that present themselves nearly everyday. Eventually the illness mindset becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Let Go of Guilt and Grief

Guilt is a normal reaction to dealing with a chronic disease. Maybe you feel guilt over feeling like a burden to family. Maybe you feel guilty for falling ill. Grief is similarly a part of the struggle. Guilt and grief are thieves. They steal from the energy you need to invest in healing. I’m not suggesting that you deny your emotions or suppress your grief. Recognize them, embrace them. Then let go.

How do you let go of grief and guilt? It’s a shift in perception. Stop standing in judgment of yourself. You’re not less valuable or worthy than you were before your illness. Let go of your notion of what life is supposed to be or what you should be doing. Focus on the path to health, not on your sickness. Do that, and a world of possibility will open to you.

Reclaim Yourself

Journey without hesitation, without guilt. Journey without embarrassment or shame. Be as compassionate towards yourself as you are towards others.

Whatever your physical limitations, stop apologizing for them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation or an apology. Take some time to focus on yourself. Make your own happiness. Create your own joy. One positive thought will encourage another. Let your imagination explore all of your new possibilities.

Life Beyond Chronic Illness

The ultimate lesson from the darkness is that the debilitating disease that led to your darkest moments can also lead you to the path of awareness and recovery.

When you leave the darkness, you can free yourself from limitations and exist in a state beyond the struggle to heal. You are not your illness. You’ve been in the dark too long. It’s time for you to become your true self. It’s time for you to shine because whether you know it or not, you are made of stars. Learn more about life beyond chronic illness and read the e-book!

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