A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can be one whopping big red light causing you to slam on your life brakes. Suddenly, you’re prevented from doing the things you want or need to do. Wouldn’t it be great if you could change those lights to green just by blinking, as Corrina, Whoopee Goldberg’s character did in Corrina, Corrina? As I’ve discovered, you don’t need special talents to change those progress-halting red lights to amber or green.
There’s something magical that occurs when you begin asking yourself the right questions. Questions can help you make better life choices, which allow you to regain a sense of equilibrium. Small shifts in attitude and behavior will help you live better, even with a chronic illness such as RA.
The right questions can often unlock doors to greater understanding and better health. I’ve learned to ask myself targeted questions - questions that move me towards being, doing and feeling better. The focus is different and so are the results.
The right questions can set your brain alight with hope, inspiration - possibilities They can place you on the road to making better choices and to doing things that are right for you. Arouse that sense of curiosity by wondering ‘What if?’ or ‘How do I?’, then let the brain do what it does best - find answers that will help you adopt behaviors that support you in your journey towards health and wellness.
I’ve created an experiment for you to work on over the next little while.
Step 1. Slowly read through the Group A questions. What do you notice emotionally, mentally, and/or physically as you read them? What thoughts go through your head?
- What if I took more responsibility for my emotional, mental and physical health?
- How do I get a better sleep?
- What one thing can I change so that I improve my sleep hygiene?
- What if I were to go for a walk each day?
- How do I feel after I get some exercise?
- What would happen if I chose to eat better?
- What if I lost three pounds, then another three, and so on?
- How would I feel if I did my best, each day?
- What if I recognized that morning stiffness didn’t have to signify the beginnings of a flare-up?
- How do I maintain the mobility I do have?
- What if I noticed a pattern that precedes a flare?
- How do I get a daily dose of nature?
- Who or what brings me joy?
- How do I feel after I spend time doing something I love?
- What if I talked and thought more about the people, places and things I love?
- How do I have more control over my emotions?
- What if I sustained my health?
- How do I live my best life with RA?
Step 2. Now, read the list of Group B questions. Contrast them with the Group A questions. Do you notice a difference in how you feel? It may be glaring or subtle.
- Why me?
- Why can’t I feel better?
- What’s wrong with me?
- How do I stop worrying?
- I need to sleep. Why can’t I sleep?
- What if I’m having another flare-up?
- Why can’t I stop eating junk food?
- Will I ever get better?
**Step 3. **As you travel along the road of life unpack your sense of curiosity. Are there questions that you frequently wonder about? Where would you place them - into Group A or Group B?
Don’t stop with one reading, though, even if you think there is no difference. Remember - this is an experiment. Review the questions tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that. Pay attention to subtle changes. How you feel and what you do or don’t do? Do you get caught up in the rush hour traffic of life? Perhaps you miss the small shifts that signify better choices, better health.
Catch yourself doing things that are good for you; the things that make you feel better.
Better questions - more green lights.
I’m curious, did you notice a difference between the Group A and Group B questions? Over time, I certainly have. I’ve seen and felt changes in my health and well-being.
I have a bit of an inner rebel who tends to balk at the voice that tells me “I must”, or "I should". That inner rebel seems to quiet down when I ask the right kind of questions. I feel a greater sense of freedom and less stress, as I drive in a direction that is healthier for me. That leads to more green lights in my life.
I regularly ask myself many of the Group A questions, often on a daily basis. I’ve learned to let go of the need to immediately have all the answers. I allow myself time and space to come up with solutions that work for me. Solutions that give me more green lights that allow me to get to where I want or need to go.
Red light? Green light?
Marianna Paulson is known as @AuntieStress. On her website, you’ll find links to her two award-winning blogs, Auntie Stress Café and the award-winning A Rheumful of Tips. When she is not helping clients (and herself) address stress, she keeps active by swimming, dog walking, and taking frequent dance breaks. She takes steps in a number of different directions in order to work on being a “Superager.” She may have RA, but it doesn’t have her! “Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.” - Dalai Lama XIV