Creative Deconditioning for Behavior Modification

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

by Jennifer (Jenn) Powell |

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Jennifer Silver Linings

I watched the sunrise with dread, my peaceful time disquieted by my own internal chatter. An 80-degree day would soon replace the cool mid-January morning.

Not my favorite.

I am a creature of conditioning. Pavlov would be proud. The mere sight of the hazy morning sun against the blue sky is enough to fill me with dread. How could this once innocuous orb in the sky elicit such a consistent response?

The sun taunts and teases. It beckons and calls my name. The day is young, bright, beautiful — mine for the taking. But I sit transfixed. I look down to what has now become by uniform and discern these pajamas clean enough for another day.

The movie “Groundhog Day” comes to mind.

I once craved these beautiful Southern California days. I would jump in my convertible and head for the beach. I now spend more time in pajamas than convertibles. I head for the couch more often than I would like. Inclement weather is far more permissible to such a situation. Rain, clouds, and cooler temperatures allow for forgiveness.

Forgiveness from myself.

I am incredibly hard on myself. This is not an enviable characteristic. While I do not salivate at the sound of a bell, I feel shame at the sight of the sun. What used to be an innocuous weather condition now elicits unworthiness.

This Pavlovian response is unacceptable.

The amazing thing is that we can manipulate our behavior. We can undo the undesirable, reinforce the positive, and modify the nuances in between. Familiarity is formidable but so am I.

I cannot afford to be anything less.

Therefore, I am choosing to change my mindset. From here on in I will do my best to accept myself as I am. I will not predicate any part of my emotional well-being on the sun, the moon, or the stars. I will shine my own light and forge new pathways. I refuse to accept my negative mindset as status quo. I will revel in each day as they come.

I will never lose faith that tomorrow holds yet more untapped miracles. I might not get it all today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but I will never stop trying. Hope elicits a tiny fire within me that, when nurtured, becomes a roaring flame.

If I sound disjointed, it is because I am. Suffice it to say this disease continues to humble me. Just when I think I have accepted all MS has to give, I am reminded of my fragility.

I can only attest to learning as I go and accepting as is humanly possible. I am learning this disease is a continuum in grief. We must acknowledge we are powerless over how this disease decides to run its course. All we can do is condition ourselves best we can and hold on tight.

It is highly likely that tomorrow morning the sun will be shining. I can say with 100 percent certainty that I will be, too.


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Keith Layton avatar

Keith Layton

Boy does that tap into my experience. I am also trying to get to a place where I can realize some acceptance of my "sitcheation" of MS and grasp some joy and satisfaction with each new day. And yes, MS comes back to humble and attempts to mock those feelings. As they say "try try again".
Thank You for this post.

Jennifer Bodurtha avatar

Jennifer Bodurtha

Your post made me sad. I have had MS for 30 years and am combining DMT with supplements. Vitamin D and flaxseed oil and multivitamin. And keeping saturated fat to under 10 grams/day. Learned years ago that I was allergic to beef. Made my right eye blurry. Would subside after a while.

Recommend that you read Dr. Ira Swank's MS diet book. He did amazing research. I am not a doctor, simply a fellow MS sufferer trying to make my life more complete. DON'T DISPAIR!!?

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell avatar

Jennifer (Jenn) Powell


You are so kind, but don’t be sad. Much like this disease, emotions capitulate. I have ascribed to eating whole 30 and it has been a very positive change.

I so appreciate your writing and wish you the very best.

Kindly ,

Jennifer Bodurtha avatar

Jennifer Bodurtha

Thanks fellow Jennifer! Am fond of the name! What is the Whole 30?

Jennifer Bodurtha avatar

Jennifer Bodurtha

Thanks fellow Jennifer! Am fond of the name! What is the Whole 30?

Gina N avatar

Gina N

I so understand this wishing for rainy blustery days so I don’t feel so bad laying in the couch (again) while the sun is shining!!

Kasia S avatar

Kasia S

Hi Jennifer B!

You are worthy of love, just as you are. Your note makes so much sense to me, I am also a recovering active girl, but it has taken several years, and probably rest of my life “)
I hear that you are hard on yourself (too many women are), and then you come up with some good counterpoints to make your life better, good job! My heart just suggests instead of demanding change (I will/will not), that there might be easier success if that were softened. Even being more direct can be more kind: I accept myself for who I am.
Also recognize what you can and can’t control— “I will not predicate emotion..”
Emotions don’t do well being controlled, but it is what you do. I feel you know this! Keep growing, from one Groot to another.


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