I went out to a pub on St. Patrick’s Day. A friend was providing the live entertainment for the evening with his guitar and a fun selection of Irish songs. I went with three friends and met up with other friends once we got there. The place was packed. I was really enjoying myself. It was nice to get out of the house, socialize, have a glass (or two) of wine, listen to good music. You know, all that normal stuff people do when they get together. I felt happy and relaxed. Then I noticed that there were an awful lot of people there from my workplace, sprinkled throughout the crowd. My supervisor was there. An HR person was there. I started to feel uncomfortable, and I wondered if they were thinking, “Hey, she’s on sick leave but she sure doesn’t look sick.” It started to bother me. Were they judging me? Did they think I was lying? Should I not be laughing? Should I not be drinking wine and having fun? Should I not be there at all? I had been so pleased to be invited, but maybe I should not have come.
But then I recognized these thoughts for what they were: negative, broken thoughts. And I know what to do about those. Reframe, reframe, reframe. Turn that frown upside down.
First of all, the people from my workplace were also there to listen to the music, socialize and have fun. They weren’t thinking about me at all, and if they were, they shouldn’t have been. And, if they did wonder about me being there while on sick leave, what did they actually see? They saw a person on the road to good health, actively working on recovery. Hopefully they would have been pleased to see me out and about as opposed to sitting at home, alone.
That’s the trouble with your brain being sick as opposed to your visible body – or any illness that doesn’t show. People do judge. Of course they do, it’s human nature. So in addition to dealing with your invisible illness (whatever it may be), you also have to deal with the crazy-making comments and judgemental looks that come your way from people who don’t know what’s going on. And of course you have to deal with your own perceptions, assumptions and self-judgement, too. You have to develop a surety of self at a time when you are least able to do so. That’s part of what makes you stronger. You heal stronger because you are forced to develop (or re-learn) a healthy sense of self-awareness and self-confidence as part of the healing process. You learn to re-frame the negative.
I saw a quote on Facebook today, taken from “The Four Agreements” by M. Dasek-Larcher: Always do you best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
Its important to remember that phrase: “your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.”
On broken days, I have my balance checklist to keep me on track. On broken days, I am doing my best by following that simple plan and checking a few things off of the list. Even if it is one thing, it is doing my best, and I cannot judge myself poorly for that. As I recover and regain my health, energy and vitality, doing my best may be going out to the pub with my friends. Or having a busy day like I did on Sunday, baking a batch of muffins, helping my kids unpack their new house and then taking them out for dinner.
Under any circumstance, simply do your best and give yourself credit for it. Isn’t that what balance is all about?