How to Feed Your Soul and Find Positivity Amid MS

How to Feed Your Soul and Find Positivity Amid MS
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Our thoughts influence our being. The stories we tell ourselves frame our reality. They affect the decisions we make, our behaviors, and ultimately our overall mindset. These serve to either nourish or starve our psyche.

If we are what we eat, then are we what we think? Absolutely. We cannot help but ascribe to the words we tell ourselves. This can be difficult when MS is our constant travel companion. When negative feelings such as pain and sadness dominate, how can we feed our souls?

Be patient with yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The road to acceptance is a continuum. The goalposts change as this disease progresses. It is healthy to honor feelings such as anger and grief. It is healing to then challenge yourself to find an alternative. What feeling or emotion could better serve you? Write these positive words down on sticky notes throughout your home. As you see them, visualize a time in your life you felt this way. What can you do to bring this back? This can invite a balance on even the most difficult days.

Be kind to both yourself and others. I have found this the most powerful elixir. Doing something for someone else is powerful. Never underestimate your ability to bring goodness into the life of another. I love to volunteer with animal rescue. If I cannot do an event, I might make phone calls or respond to emails. I think of friends or family who could use a handwritten card. I might even put some flowers in a bunch for a neighbor. You have the amazing ability to make a difference. Cheer yourself through each of these challenges.

Choose your thoughts. This is such a powerful tool to retrain your brain. I do this proactively in an effort to hold a healthier mindset. I follow each negative thought with a positive. “I am in pain” may be followed by “I am grateful I can stay home today.” These action steps invite my mind to follow suit. This process has now become innate. Behavior is learned. Never doubt your ability to be both teacher and student.

We cannot ignore the elephant in the room. We have MS. This is our lifelong companion. But you are not your MS. It is imperative to distinguish your disease from your identity. The joys, the milestones, the loves, and the adventures are still you. MS can never take those from you. I found it helpful to accept the MS. I tried so long to resist its presence. This only made the elephant larger. In addressing it, I was able to extinguish the fear.

Ultimately, we are in this together. You are not alone in any of your stinking thinking. When the chatter gets loud, take an action step. Envision a dimmer switch. Every time your thoughts become too loud, dim the switch. Imagine the pleasant din of quiet in its place. If you are so inclined, invite a positive thought to take its place.

Nourish your psyche. Starve the MS.

***

Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Jennifer is a health writer and weekly columnist on multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, Jennifer is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Now with secondary-progressive MS, Jennifer hopes to elevate the patient voice to better the lives of those living with the disease. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling, and spending time at home in Orange County, California, with her husband and golden retriever.
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Jennifer is a health writer and weekly columnist on multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, Jennifer is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Now with secondary-progressive MS, Jennifer hopes to elevate the patient voice to better the lives of those living with the disease. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling, and spending time at home in Orange County, California, with her husband and golden retriever.
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32 comments

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Ken,

      I truly appreciate your saying so and am grateful to have you as a reader. Stay safe and well.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

      • Carol says:

        What you talk about I used to practice regularly but somehow got away from its basic principles. Thank you Jen for reminding me to just be better and it will have its Rewards rather you have MS or not

        • Jennifer Powell says:

          Hi Carol,

          Sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge to remind us of what we are missing. Myself included!

          Kindly,
          Jenn

  1. Leanne Broughton says:

    It is so hard to continue to be positive when each day there is a new thing I can’t do. I do appreciate the Silver Linings as it reminds me I am not the only one.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Leanne,

      It is hard. I have those days and weeks too. Remind yourself to take comfort in all steps which will help build on themselves. You will get there!

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  2. Phil Kirschbaum says:

    Wonderful essay. I’ve written an essay which is my longer version of an answer to the question, “How are you?” I’’d be glad to share if you’re interested.
    Thanks again for your good work.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Phil,

      Thank you so much for responding. I would enjoy reading that, would you let me know where I can read?

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  3. Cindy says:

    Thank you for putting into words how I feel. I must remember I am not MS! I am a person who has a lot to give.
    Cindy

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Cindy,

      Thank you so much for writing! Although MS can look like it is taking over, we are still here to tell it to back off!! I like to say that MS is an aspect of an otherwise beautiful life.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  4. Steve Johns says:

    Humans have 3 ‘souls’, both ‘souls’ of our feet and an arse ‘soul’. Which ‘soul’ are you feeding?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yes it is a challenge to have MS and then a real life thing happens and it gets harder! My teenage son died 3 weeks ago, my teenage daughter hates me and thanks to MS my 9 year old lives with her dad in another state!! I would so welcome a positive take on this!!

      • Jennifer Powell says:

        Elizabeth,

        I wish I had the right words to say or some sage wisdom that could ease your pain. Please accept my sincerest condolences on the tragic loss of your son. I cannot imagine your grief. Please give yourself so much gentle love and latitude. Do you have a support system in which to help you through?

        I do believe so many teens, myself included, experience deep disdain for their parents during their adolescence. And I am sorry that your 9-year-old lives so very far away. You have and continue to experience extreme loss. I wish I could wrap you in a warm hug and let you grieve. I am sending you prayers and love in abundance.

        The situations we cope with in life can be painful and downright bad. Our disease can exacerbate this and even create pain of its own – both emotional and physical. I will not placate you and say there is anything positive about the loss of a child, or another living so far away. I will, however, challenge you to find a reason to carry on. A reason you wake up in the morning and another which allows you to smile. Today, I am thankful for you. I am grateful for your letter and the time you took to write.

        Please check-in and let me know how you are. My thoughts are with you.

        Warmly,
        Jenn

  5. Robin England says:

    I often think I could have another disease worse than MS so I am lucky to be here and still mobile even with a walker.

  6. Kimberly Hesse says:

    Hi everyone,
    I am a 54 year old female and just received my diagnosis yesterday after losing eyesight in right eye. I’ve always been a glass is half full person, but this has just thrown me for a loop! I’ll reading all of your articles and comments. #mswarrior

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Kimberly,

      I am so so sorry it has taken me too long to respond. How are you doing? You were recently diagnosed and I can only imagine how that has been for you.

      It is okay to allow yourself the natural feelings of sadness and disappointment. This does not mean you are not a glass half full person, it means you are grieving. You can hold both. I understand just how difficult that can be.

      I am sending you an abundance prayers as well as a gentle squeeze. You are an absolute MS Warrior!

      Warmly,
      Jenn

  7. Marcy says:

    Well I am one person who has more than one serious disease. My neurologist told me early on that my diagnosis did not shield me from other health challenges, and I’m glad she did. With the love and support of two sons and many friends, I have kept a positive attitude. I find one silver lining is that I focus on how fortunate I am.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Marcy,

      Having several illnesses present can be tricky, yet it looks like you have taken it in stride. Thank you for reminding us how beneficial attitude can be.

      Kindly,
      JENN

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Marcy,

      Thank you so much for sharing your perspective and gratitude. Your ability to see fortitude outside of this disease is a huge blessing. Keep up the wonderful perspective!
      Kindly,
      Jenn

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you so much for your feedback! I appreciate the time it takes to respond and it means a great deal.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you so much for your kindness. This method has worked well for me and I look forward to hearing if it is as helpful for you.

      Warmly,
      Jenn

  8. Deb says:

    I loved this post. Thank you for your insight. I am just going through the process of trying to get a diagnosis with scarce healthcare availability. Dealing with the anger and grief associated with this process seems to have taken over my life. It was helpful, in the course of this journey to be reminded that there are silver linings, and people who take the time to remind us of the same. Thank you.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Deb,

      Thank you so much for writing. I am grateful this spoke to you. Your anger and grief are so validated and completely normal. When it overtakes our being is when we need to re-evaluate. You are taking the most difficult steps in creating a new narrative and that is so powerful! Well done in being mindful of what you deserve Again, my deepest appreciation for letting me know how this impacted you. Sending you wishes of wellness along with the reminder that you are never alone.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  9. Ann e says:

    Dear. Jen,
    I have had ms for 52yyears and I still keep going. This January I will be 86 and I get around in a wheelchair and enjoy my family and friends. I try to get with my dog at least once a day. It took17 years to get a diagnoses, although I knew something was wrong with me..
    It took the mri machine to get a diagnoses ochronic ms. And i have
    Had cancer, two strokes. And some surgeries too
    However, I keep goin.
    The corona virus has made me very sadandanxious buthopefully we will on ure it too.
    Fondly , annef

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hello Anne,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. You are an inspiration as you keep moving forward, despite all the struggles which have come your way. I encourage you to disseminate the sadness and anxiety in much the same way. Break them down into manageable parts and keep on swimming. Sometimes behavior follows action steps. You will get through this one day at a time.

      Warmly,
      Jenn

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