Having a Positive Mindset with Fibromyalgia

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Living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain has put me in a not-so-great state of mind more times than I can count. It’s easy to get stuck in that negative state and struggle to come out of it. It’s harder to maintain any sort of positivity, but its essential to be as positive whenever possible. Having a positive mindset with fibromyalgia can improve symptoms.

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It’s Easy to Think Negative

I often find myself being confronted with not-so-great days such as having a flare-up of symptoms or just feeling crummy, and it usually ends in me visualizing the worst future for my family and me. All the possibilities, usually negative ones, will enter my mind, and then I slowly become even more frustrated, stressed, and upset. Thinking negative thoughts only adds to the intensity of fibromyalgia symptoms and is an unhealthy mindset.

I say thinking negatively will help me to better prepare for the worst situation. I mean, that’s what problem solvers do, correct – prepare for the worst and hope for the best?  It’s not healthy like I said, but I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s a bad habit to break.

The Most Jovial Sick Person

One time after a trip to the emergency room, I decided to stop that negative way of thinking when it comes to my chronic illness. How did an ER trip change my thinking? Here’s what happened.

What landed me in the ER on this particular occasion was nerve issues in my foot.  At this particular time of the year, I was stressed with working on my blog full time while trying to properly care for my loving family. My nerves could not take the stress and started acting out in the form of severe burning, tingling, and numbing in my left foot.

After going through triage and put in a room, a medical student came in and started taking notes on my symptoms searching for any possible causes for the problem. She stated that I have a lot of medical issues for being only 32 (at the time).

I laughed and started joking about me being an old soul in a young body. She went on to talk about some of my other medical issues *insert boring medical jargon* and I continued to laugh and tell jokes. I mean, what else could I do? She wasn’t telling me anything new and it’s quite depressing when I think about it.

Before leaving to get the doctor, she told me that I was “the most jovial sick person” she had ever met. She couldn’t believe I live in daily, constant chronic pain and be so “upbeat and cheerful”. Then she left the room.

Opening the Flood Gates of Negativity

Then I was left with my thoughts in that tiny room with no one to laugh and joke with about my medical issues and my burning foot. That left me with a lot of time to think. This is what I thought:

“How could she think I’m so cheery? I’m definitely not happy with this foot pain!”

“I’m not an ‘upbeat and cheerful’ person. I hate this pain. I hate living this way.”

“Why do I always have to be the one in the hospital/ER/doctor’s office? When can I catch a break?”

Laughing to myself: “She wouldn’t think I was so cheery if she saw me laid up in the bed crying myself to sleep because of the pain. Or the days when my depression gets so bad that the bed is my only refuge.”

On and on the thoughts came. It was as though the flood gates of negativity opened and my mind was the basin to catch all of it. Then I stopped thinking and closed my eyes in an attempt for peace.

Having a Positive Mindset with Fibromyalgia

This is the clarity that came to me: Here I was living in chronic pain and fibromyalgia among a variety of other medical problems, and this medical student was telling me how positive she thought I was!  Imagine that! And imagine if I was more positive and upbeat and cheery about these medical setbacks. Any setback really.

What if instead of looking at the bad in a situation I searched for some sort of good? Would I be in a better mindset because of positive thinking?  It certainly wouldn’t hurt to try. It would most certainly be healthier and less stressful to think positively. Lorraine Faehndrich states in her article How to Think More Positively When You’re in Pain:

Because your body doesn’t know the difference between a real threat and one that your mind is creating, these thoughts lead to a continuously activated Fight or Flight response – which increases pain, anxiety, and stress. This further alerts the inner lizard to danger, re-triggers the fight or flight response, increases pain, anxiety, and stress – and so on and so on. A vicious cycle is created. Until you understand it, this cycle is difficult to stop.

This cemented my determination to change the way I think and to begin having a positive mindset with fibromyalgia.

How to Have a Positive Mindset

As I stated earlier, it’s not easy to change a bad habit, so it’s not going to be easy to switch to a better mindset. There are ways to do it slowly over time, and UW Health has advice on how to do it in the article Chronic Pain: Using Healthy Thinking

You could also try meditation to relieve stress or yoga. My friend, Melissa Reynolds, is a certified holistic life coach and yoga instructor. Having fibromyalgia herself, Melissa walks you through yoga and meditation to release stress and manage pain. You can check out this recent interview I had with her about Yoga with Fibromyalgia and Your Family.

If you struggle with negative thoughts, it didn’t develop overnight and likewise, it won’t be overnight that your mindset changes. However you want to give it a shot, don’t give up. Give yourself time, patience, and grace. You will overcome it and you will be glad you did it.

Brandi

Hi, I’m Brandi, the writer and creator of Being Fibro Mom and My Fibro Journal. Aside from my work on Being Fibro Mom, I run a group called Fibro Parenting on Facebook. I've been writing for the Fibromyalgia Magazine since 2016 and recently became the Secretary and Fibro & Families program director for International Support Fibromyalgia Network. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

26 thoughts on “Having a Positive Mindset with Fibromyalgia

  • September 9, 2014 at 6:41 pm
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    What great way to change your perspectives and focus on the positives.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2014 at 10:19 am
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    I am happy for you to have found a way to seek the positive in a negative situation. God will never fail us.

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    • September 18, 2014 at 10:56 am
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      No, He will not. Realizing that and accepting it is the challenge for many. Thank you for reading my story!

      Reply
  • September 18, 2014 at 10:56 am
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    Turning a negative into a positive is what it is all about. My daughter lives with MS; therefore I understand your struggle with feeling sick but looking completely healthy. But here is what I also know…God will handle this just as He handles all our other issues. Continued blessings to you and your family.

    Reply
  • September 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm
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    Bravo! Thank you for being brave and for being vulnerable in sharing your story here. What a trial you are struggling with. I appreciate your battle and your desire to rely on Him. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  • October 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm
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    It is so nice to know that there are others who refuse to allow devastating, life changing pain and daily discomfort steal my sense of humor or cheery disposition. Thank you for being brave and to sharing your story!

    Reply
  • December 12, 2014 at 8:59 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story. We all have challenges and today I have been tested with exhaustion and work/life stress. It is nice to hear of your strength in adversity, and I’m going to try to change my outlook.

    Reply
    • December 13, 2014 at 6:52 pm
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      I’m sorry to hear that you have been challenged today, but I’m glad to hear that my words have a positive affect on you. I’ll pray for you and hope that you feel better soon. Gentle hugs, friend.

      Reply
  • January 21, 2015 at 10:37 am
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    Hi Brandi: Just read your profile over at the Fibromyalgia Awareness blog. Wanted to tell you that at 62, and 20+ years into my fibromyalgia journey, you inspired me. I’ve raised 2 kids, been married to a wonderful and supportive guy for 33 years, and run a virtual coaching business for 25+ years from home (only way I can work…it allows me to manage my schedule and deal with my up and down days…holding down an outside job would be impossible, as you’ve experienced). I coach executives, write, speak at conferences, have written a couple of books, am known and respected in my field, and yet, when alone, I have the same bouts of depression, energy drains, pain, and woe-is-me moments you experience. And like you, I push back and look for the positive. Sometimes it’s almost impossible, and those who know me well, know I sometimes “disappear” for a while…email doesn’t get answered; deadlines slide; only critical stuff gets done (if I can manage). In those times it’s truly impossible to climb out “of the fog” until my body lets me. And just when I think I can’t take it anymore, the light grabs me and pulls me back to the real world. I’ll often feel a rush of energy and clarity and call my husband at work and tell him “I’m back!” We both rejoice…we never know how long it will last, so we treasure every moment…sometimes I’ll be lucky and it will last for months till the next flare. Often relief does seem to happen from prayer when I’m at my darkest, achiest, most fogged in times. Anyway, sorry to ramble…just wanted to say I appreciate you, and support you as a young, brave wife and mother and a voice for us all. You rock!

    Reply
    • January 22, 2015 at 10:32 am
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      I can’t begin to tell you what it means for a person of your experience to tell me those kind words! Thank you so very much! Gentle hugs to you!

      Reply
  • January 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm
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    Hi Brandi,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I was just talking to my friend Robyn who suffers from fibro. She goes through so much, and like you, she has her good days and bad. I will keep you in my prayers. Blessings sent your way!

    Reply
    • January 28, 2015 at 7:44 pm
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      Thank you so much for your kind words and prayers! Prayers and positive thoughts to your friend, Robyn, too.

      Reply
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  • March 22, 2015 at 7:36 pm
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    Thanks for sharing this with us, beautiful.I too laugh it off around others,it could be worse is my morltto,however, I have a flare. Coming on and this waggle.for.me to.see. I struggle.to keep.working but fear so.much that my body needs a break, but this means more fighting to.keep.my job… thank you for reminding me.to.offer it up x hugs to.you

    Reply
    • March 22, 2015 at 7:38 pm
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      Oops fibro. Funnies are in my fingers that combined with auto correct leads to… well oops

      Reply
    • March 23, 2015 at 10:42 am
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      I understand about working. I use to work, before I was diagnosed, and it hurt so bad some days. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. Now I understand.

      Thank you for reading and understanding!

      Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm
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    Having friends who cope with varying chronic illnesses, I appreciate this post so much because it sheds light on the struggles and the victories people experience. You perform a valuable service for people by pointing them toward the Father in prayer; I think David, in particular, is a great example of one who poured out His soul to God in every season, withholding no emotion from God, and trusting Him to be able to handle the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thanks for sharing this one with us at Grace & Truth!

    Reply
    • July 22, 2015 at 9:41 pm
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      Thank you, Jennifer, for your kind words. Yes, David is a great example of bearing true emotions. Thank you for commenting.

      Reply
  • June 11, 2016 at 11:03 am
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    Thank you for sharing your story Brandi. I am presently going through a major flare up and huge outside stresses financially as I have been unable to work for over 2 years. I have become closer to the Lord as I have ever been but still need to keep working on my spirituality to draw myself even closer to him. Negativity is definitely one of the devils tools and I have got to win this fight! Thanks again and God Bless you for reaching out to try to help others overcome this.

    Reply
    • June 14, 2016 at 11:27 am
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      I empathize with your stresses. For me personally, I grow closer in my relationship with our Lord when I go through these difficult times. Each person is different, and I’m grateful that I am able to see the positive rather than the negative. The negativity can chew me up and spit me out. It’s rough.

      Reply
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