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Self-Help & Coping

Believe in Yourself

How do you believe in yourself when others trivialize your symptoms? Or how do you continue to like yourself when fibromyalgia keeps stealing your energy and ability to function as you once did? These situations fuel ongoing battles and undermine your self-esteem. But no matter what others say or do, it is essential that you believe in yourself.

Some people just don’t get fibromyalgia or refuse to accept such a debilitating illness that they cannot see. Adding to your frustrations: you don’t have a lab test, X-ray, or other form of proof that all your symptoms are real. But only you can hang onto your conviction that science will eventually vindicate you. In the meantime, you have to be kind to yourself.

Avoid Self-doubt

“Am I really sick? Did I do something to cause this? If I had eaten better, exercised more, been more positive, would I be well today?”

Anyone who begins each day with pain all over is rightfully convinced that something is wrong. But when a doctor can’t find anything and the family members grow suspicious, it is difficult not to doubt yourself.

Try to recognize self-doubting or self-blaming thoughts as quickly as you can. We talk to ourselves all day long. When you ache everywhere and no one understands your need to rest, putting a halt to the negative chatter can take time and practice. Learn to talk to yourself with the same caring tone you would speak to a good friend. You didn’t cause your fibromyalgia, so don’t take the blame for it. You need to be comforted. You deserve it, especially from yourself.

When possible, express your need for understanding and validation to family members and friends, at least the ones you trust to listen and be in your corner. A good support system can help you keep your fighting spirit alive. If the people close to you are insensitive (more common than it should be), check out our Facebook page for daily encouragement and a social network of people who know what you are going through.

Like Yourself

“How can I look attractive when I feel so physically ill? Who will employ me when I require a flexible schedule? I used to get so much done each day, but now my ‘to do list’ is half the length. Why can’t I just push through this illness?”

Persistent self-doubt can snowball into feelings of dislike. It’s difficult to respect yourself and accept your limits when you are overwhelmed with constant misgivings about your condition. This is especially true when these inner doubts are further fueled by the skepticism of others.

Liking yourself is a battle many people struggle with, not just those who have fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses. It’s hard not to be judgmental. Deep down, you may be thinking, “My house is a mess” or “I’m not as physically fit as I should be” or “I used to make a lot more money.” The only solution is to let go of who you once were and try to embrace the person you are today.

Liking who you are is a challenge, especially if you make comparisons to your former, younger self (most people, even those without fibromyalgia, would fail to measure up). Talk to yourself with a kind, inner voice and appreciate what you can do without focusing on the negatives. Of course, nothing is easy about this quest and it can’t be rushed. Hopefully, over time, you will learn to let go of self-criticism and you will start liking yourself.