By Toni Bernhard J.D.
To celebrate the release of my new book, How To Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide, I’ve made a list of 20 tips to help with the health challenges all us face at one time or another in life. The book explores each tip—and many more—in detail.
1. Your body is not the enemy.
Quite the opposite; it’s working hard to support you. There’s a chapter in the book titled “Appreciating the Wondrousness of the Human Body.” Your body is indeed wondrous. Even so, it’s also vulnerable to illness and injury, so it deserves your compassion not your anger.
2. It’s not your fault that you have health problems.
Everyone struggles with his or her health at some point in life. Don’t make things worse by adding self-blame to your list of challenges.
3. Accepting that life is uncertain, unpredictable, and doesn’t always conform to your wishes is the first step toward making peace with your circumstances.
In the book, I call this making peace with a life upside down.
4. Don’t spend your precious energy worrying about how others view your medical condition.
Instead, spend that precious energy taking good care of yourself.
5. Forgive yourself—over and over and over again.
And when you realize you’re not taking good care of yourself, forgive yourself immediately. Although taking a good hard look at how and why you acted as you did is a good way to learn from your mistakes, the “hardness” should stop there. Learn and move on. Self-forgiveness is a form of self-compassion, and self-compassion is one of the major themes of the book.