How to find meaning in life with migraines or with any chronic illness can be hard even at the best of times. How you think about your situation can help or hinder your ability to cope. There are many ways to stop your negative thoughts from adding to your pain so that you can move towards self compassion, kindness and empowerment.
Did you know that? That you can actually change thoughts and then resulting behaviors? As a qualified counsellor I deal with the brain's natural negativity bias all day long.
Finding ways to deal with the sense of loss from your previous healthy 'normal' life when so much of what you know and love is slipping away, can be one of the most challenging aspects of migraine and other chronic illnesses.
Often facing this enormous loss can present you with one of your biggest challenges in life - finding meaning and a sense of purpose.
A potent countermeasure to experiencing such loss is to cultivate new interests, and from that, you can start to create a new sense of meaning and purpose that accommodates for your new limitations.
The brain has a negativity bias that means it holds onto negative experiences more than positive ones. But you can do things that change it.
Here are some other articles I've written to help more with this, before we get to Kate's fabulous tips:
I think this is important to re-frame some of your experiences in order to find meaning in life.
"Every challenge is an opportunity to take responsibility for who we are being” ~ Marianne Williamson. And I would add - who we are becoming.
As much as I struggle to go to work and do my job effectively, I also realize that at the same time it helps me hugely in making me feel like I'm contributing and living a productive life.
Since I don't have the energy or health to pursue active volunteer work or community work in addition to my day job, at least what I try to do each day is an achievement.
Learning to live within my abilities so that I can manage as much of my self care as possible and even... perhaps once in awhile do something extra around the house or for my partner. Any day where she doesn't have to do "extra" for me is a good day.
Figuring out how to increase activities to offset physical deterioration without a crash or causing a migraine will also lead to an improved daily life. Avoiding triggers is a constant.
And even on my most challenging days reflecting on how I can do 'good' ... a cheery email to a friend or a phone call if up to it.
Kind words to a neighbor.
Small acts can lead to a day filled with joy and bliss.
Remembering to look at the sky, stars and moon or beautiful paintings to expand my focus and awareness to something much larger than myself, helps keep things in perspective.
I remember hearing someone say that "Within each life we have many lives."
As I reflect on my various lives: childhood, teenager, diplomat, fundraiser, volunteer, yoga teacher, stage manager, now managing Migraines and CFS/Fibromyalgia... all these mini lives have brought different meaning to my life.
But I realize that a constant thread of deeper meaning runs through them all... and that is - at the end of the day can I reflect on my day and ask myself:
1. Has my work or activities today made the world better... or at the very least is it neutral and not causing harm?
2. Was I as kind and patient as I could be? If angry was it expressed respectfully and appropriately and when failing that - was I accountable for my actions? If not, what can I do to repair the damage?
3. Did I take care of myself and honor my health needs?
4. Did I feed my mind and spirit with the pursuit of life long learning and creative outlets?
5. Am I continuing to try and be a better person and replace negative qualities, actions and thoughts with positive ones?
6. Did I acknowledge with gratitude all the amazing blessings in my life?
7. Did I support my loved ones to the best of my ability?
If I remember to reflect on these questions I feel I'm living with meaning and purpose.
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To find meaning in life with migraines you will need to draw on resources both internal and external.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being proactive and staying resilient will get you through tough times.
Your own inner resolve, your will to get back to this wonder we call life, is within your reach. You just have to know how to get there sometimes. And sometimes that means help from others.
If you have a hard time finding what brings you joy, and find meaning in life with migraines, then counseling may be your next step.
Here are some more options I can recommend if you'd like to learn better coping skills:
There are so many options for you to experiment with, so don't give up ... ever!
Exercise releases 'feel good' endorphins. As does listening to music, or walking in nature.
Do what you love and make room for it each and every day. Balance, variety and fun is what can help you move forward.
I hope this all helps you find meaning in life with migraines. Here's a few ways I can help too: