The seemingly unstoppable wheel of ME/CFS can make you feel like you have no control over your body or life.
One thing I found to be helpful on my path to recovery was reclaiming the power I had given my condition and to the people I sought validation from through my word choice.
I hope this post will inspire anyone to reframe how you talk to others and, more importantly, how you talk to yourself about what’s best for you.
1. People Pleaser to Queen/King of Your Life
Old: I can’t say no, because I’d be letting people down.
New: I am the type of person who puts my health first. When I put myself first, I’m able to give more to the world.
Here’s a permission slip to put your health first and the origin story behind it.
2. Sufferer to Recoverer
Old: I have been suffering from ME/CFS for X years.
New: I have been on an X year journey to recovery.
3. Tragedy Character to Hero on a Journey
Old: Why did this terrible disease have to happen to me?
New: I am only given challenges I am capable of overcoming to fulfill my purpose in life.
Next level: I am only given opportunities to grow to fulfill my purpose in life.
The book The Energy Codes helped me get to this level. It offers one of the most empowering (not self-blaming) explanations for why challenges occur in our lives, authored by a woman named Dr. Sue Morter whose own journey is inspiring. The book also includes powerful breathing techniques for processing emotions and bodily discomfort.
4. Restrictions Justifier to Humorous Optimist
Old: I can’t do that activity because I am too weak right now.
New: This is outside my “training zone” today. I look forward to doing that with you in the future. (Credit: Annie Hopper)
am laughing at how many times I had to cancel on my poor friend Ann to join her at “Beginner’s Yoga,” but I have no regrets.
5. Pointer of Blame to Discoverer of Joy
Old: I can’t believe I let that person talk me into doing X treatment which harmed me.
New: I discovered Y is what’s best for my body so I can live a vibrant life.
6. Past Replayer to Present Embracer
Old: I am upset about how my condition could have been prevented. I should have trusted my intuition and not done A, B, and C, D, E and F to have avoided this plight.
New: I am focusing on the now. It is never too late to fully heal.
7. Validation Seeker to Believer in Self
Old: No one validates the struggle I’m going through.
New: I love, trust, and believe in myself. I am the strongest person in the world.
8. Groveller to Shot Caller
Old: I hate to annoy you, but I feel off. I am experiencing warning signs I have before I’m about to crash, which usually leaves me unable to walk more than two blocks for at least 10 days and bad flu-like symptoms. Can we please slow down?
New: I am going to take a break and meet you there. (Take a Lyft 3 blocks if that’s what good for you. Or go home.)
9. Pain Avoider to Comfort Optimizer
Old: My brain can’t handle all these bright lights. They make me feel dizzy and give me a headache.
New: I prefer low lighting for this time of day and would love to turn down the lights.
10. Fearful Controller to Healthy Boundary Setter
Old: You cannot be near me if you’re still a little bit sick, since my immune system is weakened, and it may trigger a serious relapse as it’s done multiple times in the past.
New: My immune system is getting stronger every day. I look forward to spending time with you a week after you’ve returned to good health.
11. Apologetic Disappointer to Appreciative Help Seeker
Old: I am having a flare-up today, and don’t have the energy to do this myself. I’m very sorry to burden you.
New: I’d love and appreciate your help! I am so grateful to have your support.
In the past, my limbic system was stuck in survival mode. Changing my language from expressing fears to proclaiming preferences was supportive of my recovery.
I remind myself over and over one thing.
It’s not what happens to me, it’s how I choose to perceive it.
That’s where our power lies, no matter how deep we have to dig. It’s time to flip the script!