Thursday, September 15, 2011

Avoid Self-imposed Guilt

As I've mentioned before, I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndromes. I am one of very few people for whom most of my symptoms are usually in almost total remission. That means that in less than a decade I have crashed from the high being a very high-functioning person to a seriously scary low of barely-functioning, and bounced back to a fairly high-functioning person.

But it's not over. I have to be on guard. I have to work very hard to focus on the path I'm on rather than the destination. This part is my personality, which I share with most fibro/CF sufferers - I like to achieve, and I get frustrated when I can't meet my goals. So I have to really work hard to forgive myself for 'failing' to meet all my goals.

A new tool I'm using to help me with that is an android app called 'Goal Coach'. Using this app for goal-setting was the first time I came across the idea of a goal percentage. In the past I would write down my goals, and then fail. I understood why I failed - I had too many things I expected myself to accomplish in the given time, or the standard to which I expected myself to accomplish those goals wasn't reasonable, or some of those goals were to please others so I didn't even want to acheive them. But understanding didn't help, I still failed.

The new idea the app gives is to set a goal percentage. It isn't succeed or fail, it's setting a standard for good enough. Freedom! I have about 8 goals I want to work on every day. My goal percentage is 50%. After a month, if I meet my goal percentage, I get a reward.

The reward is also a bit of a new idea for me. Sure, I've heard of other people doing nice things just for themselves, but that never applied to me. I saw only what I didn't do, or didn't do well enough, or someone else's need that I felt obliged to fulfil. So I only saw my failures, never my sucesses - partly because I didn't understand how to apply a standard other than All-or-Nothing to myself. I knew All-or-Nothing wasn't right - both objectively as a determiner of truth or reality, or subjectively as a way of life. But I couldn't conceive of an alternative way of looking at, well... anything.

This all ties back to the fibro/CF because I have had a rough week. The last 5 days I had so little energy it was all I could do to work on my 50% goals. But, I could still do that. Imagine, a life where even on my worst day I am clear about my priorities and reasonable about my expectations for myself!

I never thought this was possible. It's still hard because I feel inside all the pressure and guilt as always, but the external reality, the life I'm living... that's changing.

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