Finding Ways to Be Optimistic
Everyone wants to be optimistic. Staying optimistic means that you look positively at the world. Optimistic people see hope in others. They believe that others will bring good into the world.
Some people are born with optimism and others have to work for it. Gaining optimism is a challenging process. Keeping optimistic during tough times is even trickier. You want to be able to look adversity in the face without a hesitation and know that you will triumph, but this is not always the case. Some battles seem unwinnable.
Dealing with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may seem like one of those battles. RA brings with it so much pain, discomfort, frustration and uncertainty that pessimism begins to take hold. Suddenly, the glass seems half empty as symptoms impact your views of the world.
In this case, optimism does not come back on its own. If you want it back, you have to take it back. Fighting the battles will enable you to win the war against RA and pessimism.
Step One: Grieving
Any diagnosis of a chronic medical condition, like RA, is a loss. Forget the notion that losses are reserved only for when a death occurs. RA is a loss of functioning, a loss of a healthier you and the realization that you are vulnerable to other conditions.
Younger people diagnosed with RA may see the condition as the first sign that they are not impervious to illness while older adults may see RA as another additional issue to mange.
Whatever the case, the need to grieve and mourn exists. Here’s how:
- Move through denial – RA symptoms can present differently for different people. It can take time before symptoms are clearly understood and identified when professionals question other aspects of your physical health. Work through denial by acknowledging the current state of your physical health and what you are feeling. Talk openly about it with others to solidify it as fact.
- Move through anger – When denial is addressed, anger is a likely reaction. Anger has a bad reputation because people tend to suppress their feelings for too long leading to an explosive burst of anger later where feelings are hurt and relationships broken. Find new ways to channel the feeling into productive actions. You may have good luck releasing anger through art, journaling or physical activity.
- Move through sadness – A loss is sad. It is supposed to be. Write down your thoughts that contribute to depression. Are you worried about the future? Does the thought of constant pain seem unbearable? Debate and challenge these thoughts to arrive at conclusions that make sense and will add to happiness.
- Move through bargaining – Bargaining is all about making a deal. Bargaining is an attempt to take control over something that is fully out of your hands. Once you realize the limits of your control, you can move to the next step.
- Move to acceptance – You must accept the things you cannot change. You cannot make RA go away. You can alleviate symptoms by following doctor’s orders and recommendations. Acceptance is not only acknowledging the diagnosis, but also in understanding the widespread influence it has on your life now and will in the future. It does not mean you like it. It only means that you understand it.
Next page: addressing your physical health.