I Am Not My Diagnosis
The same holds true when we attempt to identify ourselves based on certain qualities of our personality or descriptions of our physical form or the state of our physical form.
Illness and disability are specific areas in this world of form that we have overused labels so much that we have come to identify ourselves based on a diagnosis.
Just look at the ICD-10 or the DSM-V and you can find hundreds, if not thousands of disorders, conditions and descriptions of physical and/or psychological conditions.
When something is physically wrong with us we go to the doctor and they tell us we have such and such condition whether it be a simple virus to a more complex disease such as multiple sclerosis.
How do we normally tell our story when something physical is wrong? We say, “I am sick” or I have MS or cancer or ALS or Arthritis. These statements, although common and typical, create a false identification with the condition or illness your body is experiencing. This is most apparent when we say “I am sick” , “I am depressed” or I am paraplegic”, because without even realizing it, we have associated our identity, our sense of self and our true consciousness as being depressed, sick or paralyzed. This is a paradox however because who you are transcends the physical form your consciousness inhabits. Consciousness cannot be sick, paralyzed or depressed, only physical form. We should instead say; “I exist in a form that is currently experiencing illness, or depression or paralysis. This simple shift in language creates some space and distance between our sense of self and the physical world of form. The hope is to dis-identify with the label, so that thought and false identification can be curtailed.
We do this by accepting ourselves into the present moment.
This may anger some people who would say, “It is easy to say to be in the present moment, but try being present when your body is plagued with pain or discomfort or your life has been turned upside down because you can no longer physically do what you were once able to do?”
Anger would be a natural response, but to awaken into the present you must accept what is. Furthermore, you have associated your sense of self with the things you are not able to do in your present situation.
For example: Many people with MS experience symptom exacerbation when exposed to extreme climate change, particularly heat. So let us imagine an individual who says, “My life is terrible, I can no longer vacation in Florida because it makes me too ill. I’ll never be able to enjoy anything ever again.” How true is this statement,”I will never be able to enjoy anything ever again?” We must be careful when using absolute words like anything and ever because it implies certainty and unless your a “psychic, then you cannot state with any certainty that you will never enjoy anything ever again. Now it may be true that visiting Florida in the middle of July would cause greater discomfort than say going during the months of November or December, but could you make some adjustments to your typically itinerary and be accepting that Florida in December can be just as enjoyable as Florida in July? The point is; instead of looking at what you can’t do, look at what you can do. Perspective is everything, so when we become locked in to any one rigid way of viewing a set of circumstances, we run the risk of upsetting ourselves.
Physical conditions, illnesses and disabilities can be challenging, but we do not need to allow them to dictate who we are or how we enjoy our lives.