Years ago, I kept a health journal, well, actually, it was more like an unhealth journal. I would chronicle every ache, twinge, pain, stab, etc. – you get the picture.
It’s also for the same reason that I don’t spend a lot of time discussing, blogging, or enumerating my pain and symptoms when I do have them. The reason – two words: neural pathways.
As you know, we learn from repetition. Whenever I studied for an exam, I would write out my notes as I spoke them aloud. When you use as many senses as possible, it helps to lay down the pavement for those neural pathways. (That reminds me of one of my French professor who was fond of repeating, often several times during each class, “Language learning is overlearning.” Somewhere in my brain is a pathway with a sign post marked Monsieur C. – French 1100. 🙂 ) I digress, however.
Thanks to brain plasticity, we develop or deepen our neural pathways through our experiences; either through formal education or in our everyday interactions. Habits, the things you do without thinking, are well-worn neural pathways – sometimes too well-worn – as in the case of the habits you wish to break.
I decided to stop looking for everything that was wrong with me; I no longer wished to travel that neural pathway. Instead, I have made it a lifelong goal to start looking for what is right. Usually on a nightly basis, I use a pretty journal and jot down five to ten things for which I am grateful. Granted, they are not all health-related, but the gratitude serves another purpose – it’s a great stress undresser when done with heart-activated techniques. I know what I’m looking for, and this is a good way to reinforce it. I find that I have fewer flare-ups, am better at pain management on the rare occasion that I do have them, and I feel emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually stronger and healthier.
I wrote this post to explain how I’ve chosen to move through my life with rheumatoid arthritis. We each learn to deal with our disease in our own way. You, your doctor and other health care professionals may use a different strategy for successfully helping you move through your life with rheumatoid arthritis. If so, would you care to share what works well for you.
Related post: The Painless Game.