Four Quotes That Changed My Life with RA

Chronic disease is a marathon, not a sprint, and my marathon has given me the opportunity to try out lots of ways to handle the challenges that JRA has thrown my way.  Throughout the course of my long life with JRA I’ve had many different iterations of how I cope. I’ve handled it horribly, and I’ve handled it courageously, with everything in between. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve gained some wisdom that helps me not only with the disease but also with my life in general.

Bless in the mess

To me, this is the “bless in the mess,” and it usually boils down to one thing: perspective. Which leads me to the first quote that changed my life:

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” 

This quote from Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search For Meaning, has influenced me more than any medication I’ve taken or treatment I’ve tried. I’ve read Mr. Frankl’s book so many times I’ve gone through at least three copies. It helps me to remember that I am resilient. Every day with JRA is a new one, and by adapting my thoughts and actions depending upon what I’m facing in the moment I can live well, regardless of my present circumstances. Mr. Frankl wrote about his experience in four concentration camps during WW2, which led to his developing a new branch of psychotherapy called Logotherapy. The basic tenants of Logotherapy include:

  1.     Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones.
  2.     Our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life.
  3.     We have freedom to find meaning in what we do, and what we experience, or at least in the stand we take when faced with a situation of unchangeable suffering.1

Ways to be fulfilled even when in extreme pain

Thinking about these ideas has led me to find ways to be fulfilled even when I’m in extreme pain. It keeps me curious instead of helpless. It motivates me to try to use my pain as a muse, instead of thinking of it as a torture device. And when I shift my thinking about my life and my pain, it’s much easier to see clearly that even when I need a lot help, I still have value, and can still make a positive difference in the lives of the people around me.

“Don’t light yourself on fire to keep other people warm.” -Penny Reid

This quote came to me recently when my good friend Colleen passed it on in an email. I think of it every day now because as someone who has always made a great effort to “keep up” with the people around me I know that I do this often. It’s incredibly hard to see the look of disappointment on the faces of my friends and family when I opt out of activities, which makes it even harder to say no. As a person who is guilty of being a people-pleaser, I am also guilty of holding onto silent resentment, which leaks out during moments of emotional strain, and this is much harder on relationships than saying no in the moment is. I’ve lived the consequences of pushing myself too hard in order not to disappoint others for too many years, and I’ve also damaged relationships by not speaking up. To me, this quote says it all about healthy boundaries. I’m still working on actually doing it, which leads me to Thomas Jefferson:

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”- Thomas Jefferson

Self- honesty is the only path to self-care. Over the years I’ve found plenty of ways to hide the truth from myself and that dishonesty has led to decisions that have harmed my body. Not admitting to myself how tired I was has led me to say yes to things I had no business doing. Denying my reality has led me to take jobs that were way too demanding on my small frame. Pretending I was happy only made me more miserable. The only way to live well with RA is to be honest with yourself and the people around you.

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese proverb

This quote keeps me going when all I want to do is put myself in a coma until my body feels better. It embodies the Japanese concept of resilience, and helps me to remember that as long as you continue trying, eventually you will find a way through life challenges. Many of the things that are most worthwhile demand persistence, and anyone with RA knows this well. Finding the right treatment plan, or a doctor who listens, can take great effort and the ability to keep trying. But in the end, it’s always worth it.

There are so many quotes that have shifted my thinking and the way I go through life; sometimes they have been the only thing that have kept me going. They have been my mantras when I’ve had nothing else to hold onto, and they bring me strength every day of my life.

Are there any quotes that have helped you live well with RA?

 

For more information about Logotherapy visit this site:

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. http://www.logotherapyinstitute.org/Home.html

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • mcadwell
    4 months ago

    I don’t have a quote but I have a pendant I wear to remind me of something similar to the “fall down 7 times, get up 8” quote. I wear an Ankh. It’s the symbol of life. Each time it pops out of the neck of my shirt I see it as a reminder that I can do this pain filled life. The Ankh has a round part at the top and looking through that round part makes you see a different perspective as well.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    4 months ago

    I love wearing necklaces and I have a couple of charms I love for a variety of reasons. They don’t have significant meaning but I love them and I feel better when I wear them.

    Thank you for reminding me that just the act of wearing a necklace can mean a lot! ~Monica

  • kat-elton author
    4 months ago

    Hi there! I love it! You just inspired me to start wearing my favorite pendant again, that does the same thing for me. It was given to me by a good friend from New Zealand. Your Ankh pendant sounds beautiful and special.

  • mcadwell
    4 months ago

    Your pendant also sounds wonderful and special too. Wear it as a reminder of inspiration and a reminder of your friend. Hugs!

  • Nina Winterbottom moderator
    4 months ago

    @mcadwell, that sounds like a really useful physical touchstone. I love the idea of having this reminder and all the meaning embedded in it. You actually make me want to go out and find my own pendant to provide calm when needed, or even randomly throughout the day. Thank you for commenting! – Nina, RheumatoidArthritis.net Team

  • mcadwell
    4 months ago

    I hope you find one that will be a good fit. And there are so many to choose from! Hugs!

  • tckrd
    5 months ago

    Thank you you are an inspiration.

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    5 months ago

    My favorite quote is from the fictional character from the movie “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. The character Lone Waite recounts a fictional encounter with the president of the US. He says
    The president told him to “Endeavor to persevere!”. He says they thought about it a long time and when they finished thinking about it they declared war on the US. LOL RA seems like we endeavor to persevere!

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