Quite a few years ago, I had an MS attack and needed a cane to walk. I was devastated. My friend, Bronski, said that was so cool.
“How is that cool?” I demanded
“It’s sexy”, she said.
“It’s not sexy!”
“Yeah, Melody Gardot,” she stated. “It is!”
Melody Gardot is a sexy jazz singer — to whom I bear no resemblance — who uses a walking cane because of an injury.
Hm. I thought about it.
I suppose I had the choice. Feel like a young invalid. Or feel sexy to someone.
Okay, I decided. I can do this.
Smile, for heaven’s sake
Here I am, venturing out with my stick. Surprise! I am young! Look, I’m sexy. It was like a joke. Ridiculous. But it made me smile.
When you have multiple sclerosis, life is uncertain. Every day we wake up, we don’t know what life is going to spray us with. Our default mindset is to be defensive. To feel pessimistic and go negative comes naturally. It’s a self-defence mechanism.
The problem with this is if we visualise a bad outcome, we aren’t surprised when it happens. Things that we focus on, tend to magnify.
Optimism is a learned behaviour. It doesn’t come naturally. We all start with a default mode of negative.
To find Optimism, we have to let our Executive function take control.
Every day, I need to train my brain to catch itself going negative. Just catch it. Be aware of it. I don’t need to be radically optimistic. Or upbeat. Just catch it. When you get good at catching negative spin, you get good at spinning it too.
Imagine what good could come out of this? If I can’t change that, how about I do this.
I’m not suggesting you are anything other than completely honest with yourself.
Be your own best friend
What I’m advocating is to be kind and gentle. And be your own best friend.
What would a best friend do? They would probably make you laugh. And they’d make you a cup of tea. They would rummage around in your junk drawer of negativity and try to find something positive.
I truly believe that practicing positive thinking makes your life better. Hand in hand with this, being careful of the words you choose is also important to me.
Choose your words
For example, I can say my untidy house looks like a disaster. Or I can say the untidiness is irksome. I can say I feel furious about something. Or I can say I feel peeved, a bit put out. Rather irritated. Downplay the drama. Keep cool.
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory response. Don’t get inflamed by little things. I try not to flare my temper if I don’t have to. Usually, I don’t have to.
Storm breaks out before the picnic? We can’t control the weather, but we can buy the most gorgeous red umbrella!
Missed the train? We can’t avoid a two-hour wait at the train station, but, joy! We can get stuck into that book!
People who take a positive view of things are happier and healthier than those of us who don’t. It is pretty amazing what you can achieve when you back yourself and believe it just might be possible. Even if you only get halfway there, it’s better than the alternative.
It makes you better looking
And another thing. The more I practice a positive narrative, the stronger my resemblance to Melody Gardot becomes. Consider that for a while.