What if today, instead of diagnosing, monitoring, analyzing, treating and trying to fix your chronic illness you took a moment to step back, do nothing and simply be thankful for its place in your life. Yes, thankful for the thing that causes you pain, fatigue, confusion, loss of control and at times suffering. If you’re all “Yeah whatever lady, I didn’t ask for this, you don’t know what it’s like,” hear me out.

Illness is our body telling is that something is out of balance. It’s our body trying to get our attention so we can work towards fixing the imbalance. Having an illness in any form is not something anyone asks for, but if we can view illness as an opportunity to slow down, quiet down, and listen to what is going on internally it can be used as a great tool for healing and personal growth.

Illness, when simply observed with kindness and viewed without judgement can provide us with huge insights into the very core of ourselves. It can act as a catalyst for personal awakening and growth because it forces us to become really aware of what is going on in our bodies and our lives at the most basic level. As a busy society, we get pretty good at ignoring the subtle signals our bodies send us when we are burned out and trying to keep up with the pace of life, and dulling them down when they become inconvenient. As Lissa Rankin eloquently states in her book Mind Over Medicine,

“Illness offers us a precious opportunity to investigate our lives without judgement, diagnose the root cause of what might be contributing to an illness, realign ourselves spiritually, and do what we can to make our bodies ripe for miracles.” — Lissa Rankin, MD

More often than not in life great catalysts of change come in the form of tragedy or sadness. Illness can be one of these powerful vehicles of change if we let it.

Those who have chronic illness, whether you like it or not, have to become masters at identifying subtle cues in the body and strengthening this mind body connection as a survival mechanism. This can come in the form of paying attention to food and what we put into our bodies, identification of environmental triggers for disease, knowing when to rest and when to keep moving, etc. Although this vigilance can be tiring, annoying, and cumbersome at times it’s ultimately one of the key pieces of living a healthy, robust life.

Here are a few things that having a chronic disease has given me personally:

Originally published at www.christinatidwell.com.