Fear of the future will likely rear its ugly head more often than you’d like when you have multiple sclerosis or any serious chronic disease. It can be difficult to keep your mind from wandering to a very dark place.
Worries about how fast your disease is progressing, the extent of your disability, and how to take care of yourself will always be with you, even if they’re not the first thing you think about every day. And while reminding yourself to stay positive is very important, negative thoughts have a way of worming themselves into our mind.
Everyone’s MS is unique, with the disease affecting each of us differently. I have discovered that my fears have no use in my life because no one knows what the future holds.
In his first inaugural speech, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” These are such true words. The future is unknown and there are no benefits to being fearful about it. But sometimes that is easier said than done.
When we are fearful, it is inevitable that we worry. And worrying brings stress, which has been found by many to be highly detrimental to our MS. So it is in our best interest to try to curb our fears.
Being aware of and identifying what makes us fearful is key. We must ask ourselves the question, “Am I fearful and worrying about things that may never happen?” It is important to identify and keep our fears in perspective so we can effectively deal with them.
The power of positive thinking can help change our brains to sift out negative fears and worries. By not concentrating on the negative and on what could go wrong, we help ourselves eliminate the constant acknowledgment of any fear of the future.
In a HuffPost column titled, “Fear and Multiple Sclerosis,” Jill Shreve describes some of the fears that come with MS. These include fear of unknown symptoms, wondering what symptoms mean, worrying about the diagnosis, and concerns about MS drug treatments and side effects. While the column lists additional fears about MS, what held my interest was its suggestions for overcoming apprehension about having MS.
“Fear can become overwhelming, even debilitating,” Shreve writes. “Fear is often a part of MS.”
What helps the author most is changing the way she approaches having MS. She used to fear everything MS-related, including difficulty walking, wheelchairs, flare-ups, medication, and more. But by changing how she thinks about having MS, her life has improved.
One tip is changing “self-talk” to a can-do attitude — for example, by eliminating thoughts like, “My legs are weak and I may fall.” It requires a shift in focus and daily attitude. Eliminating negative thoughts causes less fear and concern. A positive outlook has become the norm in the author’s life.
I completely agree with the attitude of mind over matter and the power of positivity. None of us are guaranteed anything. We do not know what tomorrow may bring.
I choose to live day-to-day with positive thoughts and enjoy the here and now. Life is a blessing to be cherished and enjoyed to the best of our abilities. Our lives are not meant to be spent in the prison of fear and worry. The choice is ours. My hope is that by choosing to live with a positive attitude, we can relax and enjoy our lives.