The ME/CFS Survival Guide to Chasing Your Dreams

  1. Allow yourself to dream! Just make sure that you are not putting your life on hold until you reach them. Let your dreams motivate from the background whilst keeping your attention firmly in the here and now. Live for today!
  2. Make sure you match your dreams to your belief. Having dreams of what you’d like to do with full health need not be counterproductive as long as you can see how tiny steps can connect up and lead to full health, and have faith that they will. If full health seems totally unrealistic to you what level of improved health can you imagine? You might want to have different dreams for different levels of health, but make sure that they all connect up. Let your dreams for earlier levels of health be fulfilling in themselves but also a step towards your dreams at better levels.
  3. Your dreams aren’t meant to be a diversion from the misery of the now, instead they can bring meaning to the now. Dreams can be a motivation. Their value comes from how they inspire you to take responsibility for learning and growing and moving forwards.
  4. Make sure that your dreams are yours and not what the outside world has told you, you should want. Take the time to explore who you really are. What are you unique talents? How could you use them to serve? How can your talents be useful now with your limited energy, and how might that expand as your health improves? Look at things with fresh eyes. There may be several aspects to your talents, some of which might have been obscured by pre-illness busy active lives.
  5. Set attainable goals which break down into tiny steps. These goal need to link to your dreams but not every link in the chain needs to be concrete. Trust that the missing links will present themselves to you when you are ready for them. Just make sure that the first ones are clear, realistic and attainable. Perhaps your very first steps will relate to illness management and improving your health?
  6. Value each tiny achievement and focus only on the next tiny step, making sure that enjoying the here and now is your priority. It feels great to be taking a step towards something that you want even if you know it’s only a tiny one. Savour this feeling as it happens. Celebrate your achievements.
  7. Develop patience. Our illness sets us many challenges and there’s no avoiding the fact that it will slow our progress but even small steps can take us a very long way with patience.
  8. Stay flexible: As we grow and learn sometimes our priorities change or we discover there’s something else that is important to us. Allow your dreams the flexibility to adapt to this developing you.
  9. Have trust: Trust that when we are doing the best that we can, we will often find that we get the help that we need. When this doesn’t appear to be so, maybe there is a lesson in the challenge. Trust that this is an opportunity to learn and give yourself the time and space to do so.
  10. Remember the law of least effort. The most natural solutions to problems come easily when given space. If you find yourself pushing or forcing: stop, relax, let go of the struggle, create a space within yourself and allow the solution to come in its own time. When you are working in tune with your inner nature and your true desires, things will flow with ease. Relaxed effortlessness allows you to do more with your energy.
  11. Although it’s great to have a clear vision of what you desire, don’t attach your happiness to this particular outcome. There will be plenty of happiness on offer along your journey and it won’t always look exactly how you might expect. Stay open to all of it and allow it to be different.
  12. Cherish the sanctity of your dreams. Be careful who your share them with: there are some non-believers who will do their best to knock down the dreams of others. It’s often helpful to share your earlier goals to get help and encouragement, but it may be wise to reveal your dream in stages.

A few years ago, I realigned my dreams to a vision of an 80% recovery. I found that this vision was completely satisfying and that I didn’t need my full health to be fulfilled. However, my dream for full health wasn’t very different it just included a couple of extra dimensions. As I have progressed towards my dream and completed some of the links, I have found that other links have materialised. My dream has also evolved, with a few tweaks and refinements along the way. I’ve also noticed that my recent improvement in health has also coincided with the solidifying of some of these later links in the chain and a strengthening of my faith that I am on my way. So, although I believe that focusing on happiness in the here and now is fundamental to dealing with this illness, I also believe that having the right kind of dreams can be good for your health too!

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How to dream with a chronic illness like ME/CFS without it breaking your spirit!

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