Carline M. Napolitano, LCSW- Psychotherapist - "what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life"

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Healing and Dealing-Living with a Chronic Illness


Acceptance, life transitions, aging, baby boomers, type II diabetes,
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Nature teaches acceptance.
Before I discuss complimentary treatments, a very important aspect of living with a chronic condition, experiencing life transitions, aging or just living with challenges, is the concept of acceptance. Take a moment and write down the word acceptance on a piece of paper. Without much thought, jot down what comes to your mind around the word acceptance. Really free associate and have fun with this. It is between you and you!
Now notice what you came up with; did the words fear creep in or giving up? If you kept writing, did you move from fear to something else?
The notion or concept of acceptance very often brings up the idea of giving in, which for some means giving up in their mind's eye. Yet, acceptance is the very thing which can mobilize a person into being the "best version" of them self as they face any of life's challenges.
Let's look at a very simple example. Jamie is newly diagnosed with type II diabetes. Jamie leaves the doctor's office quite disappointed, scared, perhaps a tinge of anger "why me". As Jamie drives out of the parking lot, Jamie decides to stop for coffee. The coffee shop smells of freshly brewed coffee as well as fresh donuts. Cinnamon dots the air reminding Jamie of home baked goods from childhood days. Almost in tears, Jamie orders coffee and two cinnamon donuts; thinking "s--- it, I'm going to enjoy myself and eat what I want, I will not be a victim to diabetes and I will not accept this diagnosis".
Carolyn Myss might say that Jamie is having an adult version of a temper tantrum. When we make such choices in our lives, that is what we are doing. Having a temper tantrum as things are not going our way.
If Jamie accepted this diagnosis how would the coffee shop scenario play out? Are you thinking, "oh sure, the 'good' person would not buy a donut but I'm not that strong, I'm not that good". If you are thinking something like that, I implore you to keep going deeper with the question; what does acceptance mean to me and how does it relate to "the best version of myself"?
Acceptance means going with the flow of life not against it. Humans are not salmons swimming up stream each season. It is the continuous push back at life's challenges that causes chronic unhealthy stress, anger, disappointment and the list goes on. Rather, true acceptance is like riding the perfect wave to shore. Weaving in and out, staying with the strength of the wave, being with the wave, not fighting it.
Acceptance is unique for each individual as it is based upon one's own set of values. The smell of the cinnamon brought Jamie the pleasant memory of home baking as a child. Jamie values this but Jamie cannot continue to hurt and make choice based upon anger and denial.
Jamie values home baking. Jamie needs some comforting as the diagnosis has produce fear. So based upon who Jamie is, Jamie enrolled in a cooking class for type II diabetics. Jamie is back to baking which is both pleasurable and healthy. As a result of the cooking class, Jamie has made a few new friends with whom Jamie shares some fears, tips and laughs.
When Jamie leaves the doctors office now, Jamie still stops in the coffee shop to get coffee. The smell of freshly brewed coffee, freshly baked donuts tinged with cinnamon brings a smile and warmth to Jamie. Jamie accepts the diagnosis today. Jamie enjoys the smells, memories, buys the coffee and goes home to home baked healthy choices.
Oh and by the way, Jamie was able to reduce some of the blood pressure medications and the dosage of diabetes medications also decreased. That is acceptance.
If you are having difficulty accepting some aspect of your life or who you are, please write me. Perhaps you will discover what you need, just through the process of writing.
rite your post here.

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