These weeks I am sharing ideas that people who have MS are sending me—how to experience positivity in spite of MS.
Two of these people are like most of my MS friends--they live in such a way that MS is not their main ‘story’ –but these two shared a particular method of meeting the blues. When life challenges rage, they step back and let the storm happen.
One person says “When I get blue, I pull out my Pity Party Box. It's decorated on the outside with lots of encouraging reminders and pictures. Inside are love notes, prayers, bubble wrap, paper dolls, a crown, false eyelashes, lots of toys, and a CD (mine is Patsy Cline's Greatest Hits). When the music's over - so is the Pity Party.”
Here is another friend’s version of the Pity Party Solution. “When I am really discouraged, I just let myself get blue for a night. By the next morning I can’t stand myself that way, so I just stop being down…and that is my last trick.”
Last week I tried this. I didn’t soldier on when I got discouraged, but instead tried my friends’ method.
The result? I learned (began to learn) that challenging trait—vulnerability.
I am not vulnerable very often (not if I can help it!), but this time I told my family I was having a tough day.
I got an answering email. “I want to make it go away, which I can’t, but I love you!” Then, true to my family, the presents came--it was my birthday, I forgot to mention that.
Everything was better after that.
What part of me got her needs answered? Was it the greedy 7-year-old inner child who loves presents who got distracted, or was it the 7-year-old inner child who wanted her family who felt loved?
I don’t know, but I do know that everything got better that day and it started with allowing myself to be vulnerable.
I don’t often let my vulnerability show. But sharing my struggles—and having that met with affection—taught me something.
To my surprise it opened me to more joy than my stiff upper lip would have allowed.
The psychologist Brene Brown says that without having enough courage to be vulnerable that we deny ourselves the capacity for joy. The key to living this way, Dr. Brown says, is learning to see that vulnerability is courage. With this perception we are able to show up in our lives in an open way that is scary for many people, she says (http://spiritualityhealth.com/articles/bren%C3%A9-brown-how-vulnerability-holds-key-emotional-intimacy).
Being able to see vulnerability as courage—I am so impressed with this.
No, I am not a hugely brave person, and I don’t easily allow my vulnerability to show.
Like my two friends, I don’t plan on having a lot of sessions with the blues. Not if I have a choice. But this little experiment with giving the blues a voice, giving them a say in my life, even just for a little while, taught me something, and I will remember it. Being openly vulnerable gave me something I can’t give myself—the affectionate support of others.
This leads me to another gift for all of us when the motto“Keep Calm and Carry On” isn’t enough. That is, loving kindness meditation.
Like the kindness that I got from my family, loving kindness is a way of saying to ourselves that we don’t require people, ourselves included, to come across as strong or perfect in order to be lovable.
Ten minutes of loving kindness meditation has immediate and also long term results (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122474/).
This includes improvement of MS symptoms (http://www.natuionalmssociety.
(org/ Chapters/MAM/Services-and-Support/Services/Research-Study-Meditation, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/yourlife/mind-soul/spirituality/2010-10-15-meditation-yoga_N.htm).
Here is a you-tube explanation of this kind of meditation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi7-eS058cg) and here is a guided meditation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlW0VHupTFI).
My birthday gift to your inner 7-year-old!
With love, Rosalie