In my view, the most important tool in dealing with the psychological effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) is attitude because it colors everything when it comes to MS. The truth is, people with MS usually experience debilitating, frustrating physical conditions, and they can focus on the negatives and the “poor me-ness” of the situation, or they can actively seek positive MS psychology tips that will create an upbeat and colorful attitude. Tips include:
- Change Your Self-Talk. To help you change your self-talk, The Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre has some great ideas. They are based on rational emotive therapy, which was developed by the late psychologist, Dr. Albert Ellis. Ellis has written several books on the topic, including How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable About Anything: Yes, Anything and A Guide to Rational Living. He offers numerous ideas for challenging detrimental thoughts and beliefs. For instance, he suggests you stop focusing on the awfulness of the situation because it’s not helpful.
- Don’t Obsess. Break the habit of obsessive thinking by putting a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it every time a negative thought arises.
- Focus on the Positives. Make a list of every positive in your life. Post it in plain sight as a reminder of the good things when your day goes haywire.
- Learn to Meditate. When life and your symptoms are particularly stressful, tune out. For a basic introduction on how to accomplish beginning breathing meditations, click here. If you are interested in other meditation or mindfulness practices, read Mindfulness Techniques.
- Learn Yoga. Yoga is a way of relaxing, and, it not only relieves negative thoughts but also dissipates tension. A basic introduction with poses can be found at Yoga with Elise Browning Miller of California.
- Support Yourself. Join a group or get involved with online chat rooms or discussion boards. Learn how others manage their situation, see that you are not alone, and share what you know.
- Take a Break. Make a conscious decision to put the illness aside for awhile and give yourself a break. At least in the early stages, don’t let MS control your thoughts. Give yourself a half hour daily to worry and stew about MS; otherwise don’t allow yourself to think about it. You can also mentally put MS thoughts in a box to be dealt with at time chosen by you.
An old maxim applies here: “It’s not what happens but what you do with what happens that matters.” If you’ve been diagnosed with MS, one thing you have complete control over is your attitude. You can determine how colorful your life is, and, if you follow the sage advice given by spiritual experts—what you focus on expands—you’ll realize you can create a winning, positive, and colorful attitude when it comes to MS. So, use the MS psychology tips presented here and create a life as brilliant as the color wheel.