Being a victim of anything is disempowering and discouraging. This is particularly true for people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, better known as MS. Taking action and looking at what can be done beats doing nothing every time. A feeling of control offers hope and a better sense of the issues at hand. Moreover, one way of accomplishing MS management, and becoming a victor over the disease rather than a victim of it, is through situation management.
By situation management, I mean you take responsibility, and you are accountable for your situation. You cannot change the fact you have MS; however, you can make wise decisions for yourself based on sound judgment. You can also manage your thoughts and feelings, and you can listen to your body and meet its needs appropriately. Relieving the psychological effects of MS can be achieved with a situational approach and includes the following:
- Know Your Illness. Become intimately acquainted with your illness. Talk to doctors and read information related to MS. You need to know the details so you can make informed decisions for yourself. If you find drinking milk doesn’t work but taking vitamin D does, you will want to act on that information.
- Learn about Guided Imagery. Guided imagery is a program of directed thoughts and suggestions that guide your imagination towards a relaxed, focused state. Given that you know about your condition, you may be able to help yourself. Michael Samuels, MD., who has used guided imagery, creativity, shamanism and art with cancer patients for over twenty five years, also wrote the best seller Seeing With The Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques and Uses of Visualization. In it he talks about numerous ways to use guided visualization for health.
- Listen To and Take Cues. When the pain is great, make an internal choice. Give yourself permission to slow down and relax until it lightens, and stop pushing yourself. Listen to your body. For instance, when your leg is hurting, you can either force yourself to keep going or you can say, “My leg is really hurting right now; I’m going to lie down, ice it, and rest for awhile.”
- Monitor Your Thoughts. For the next couple of days, monitor what you think and say. Keep a list of your thoughts and comments, and check for negativity, discouragement, and pessimism. I read that most people think 75,000 thoughts a day, and of those 75,000 thoughts 80 percent are negative. So, check to see how many of your thoughts are negative.
- Turn Negative Thoughts Positive. Once you’ve learned how often you have a negative thought, you can take those negative thoughts and make positive affirmations from them. If your thought is, “I can’t play tennis any longer,” turn it into, “I wish I could play tennis, but I can’t, so I will find something else to do,” or it could be “I will find a new sport to pursue.” What’s most important is that you empower yourself rather than disempower yourself. (One note about affirmations: They need to be believable to work.)
While the symptoms of MS cannot be cured, the psychological effects can be managed in a way that alleviates mental pain. MS management can be achieved with situtational management techniques. If you know your illness, use guided imagery, listen to your body, monitor your thoughts, and turn negative thoughts into positive ones, you can become a victor rather than a victim. If you’re interested in learning and incorporating other psychological tips to deal with MS, read MS Psychology: The Right Attitude.