Three Ways to Lower the Bar Before I Can Raise It
From the time I was first diagnosed with PsA and up until a few years ago, I believed that not expecting myself to do what I used to or to do those activities in the same manner was a form of giving up. But I was wrong. What I discovered is that by lowering certain expectations I was actually raising the bar. Here are a few examples of how I raised the bar by lowering it:
1. Lowering my expectations of being able to keep up with my pre-chronic life.
The very thought of not being able to live the way I did before psoriatic arthritis and my other chronic illnesses made me feel like a failure. I had to accept that my life was different and that my former expectations were no longer realistic. With that in mind, I began finding ways to work with and around my chronic illnesses by limiting outside commitments, finding joy in what I could do, and discovering alternative ways to do some of my former pastimes. By doing these things I actually raised the bar, because I am always challenging myself to do better and/or seeking new activities, or ways to do what I want that won’t increase my pain to the point of not being able to do anything at all.
2. Expecting less from others
I spent many years complaining about how my friends and family didn’t understand my struggle of living with multiple chronic illnesses. But how could they? I was just as clueless before experiencing it for myself. By no longer expecting others to understand because they didn’t see that I was in need of assistance, I raised the bar for what I expected from myself. I did this by taking the initiative to take better care of myself so I could rely less on others, learning more about my diseases in order to be able to better explain them, and instead of expecting others to know when I needed assistance I began speakup.
3. Expecting to sleep at night
As you may have noticed, I write quite a bit about sleep. That’s because it is so important. I am useless if my sleep never reaches a restorative level. I was frustrated and exhausted until I lowered my expectations. It wasn’t that I gave up on sleeping in general, it was that I had to let go of the idea that a good night’s sleep could only take place at night. Depending on the weather, my activities, pain, etc. my best sleep may occur after midnight or during the day. By accepting that I didn’t need to keep banker’s hours, I raised the bar by becoming more productive during the hours that I was awake. Did it really matter if I wrote or cleaned my house at 2AM instead 2PM? No! Instead I have found that by following the schedule my body dictates I am able to accomplish more during the hours I am awake.
Others usually confuse my psoriatic arthritis with...