A year ago I wrote a blog post about why acceptance is not the same as giving up. Facing today’s reality doesn’t mean you give up hope for tomorrow. It just means you make the best of the given situation in this moment, instead of trying to change something that cannot be changed right now.
But the question remains: how do you start accepting that you’re chronically ill and may never get fully better again? How do you wrap your mind around the fact that your body, your life, your future are forever changed?
It’s a cliche, but acceptance takes time. It’s a gradual process that has its ups and downs. Emotions may stir up (again) when you enter a new phase in life or a new stage of your illness.
In his bestselling book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Deepak Chopra writes:
‘Acceptance simply means that you make a commitment: “Today I will accept people, situations, circumstances, and events as they occur.” (…) You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.(…) Having accepted this circumstance, this event, this problem, responsibility then means the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now.’
Accepting chronic illness goes hand in hand with coping; learning how to deal with negative thoughts and feelings. It’s also about partly letting go of the person you thought you were and the life you had envisioned, and make the best of the new reality you’re handed.
How do you do that? I don’t have all the answers, but here are some psychological strategies to help you.