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Spirituality During Illness
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, May 2008

In times of illness, particularly a prolonged illness, people often have a difficult time adjusting to the significant changes this can bring in their lives. Old familiar habits that shaped the routine of daily life may become more challenging, adding to the despair that can accompany any chronic illness.

When we are ill, our energy levels may noticeably decrease. Yet, in an era when productivity equates personal worth, we may feel frustration and disappointment with our ability to live up to the work ethic of our earlier lives. We may also compare ourselves with others and feel guilty when we conclude we have not accomplished much while dealing with our illness. This can lead us to overextend ourselves, possibly inhibiting our healing process.

It is at these times that we must take the time to readjust our focus on accepting who we have now become. When you find that you are comparing yourself to others, or against what you used to be able to do, stop yourself. Instead, tell yourself that for now, there is a new standard and you are learning to adapt. This will help you to accept where you are now. Self-acceptance could lead you to feel a significant relief of pressure, and a renewed sense of gratitude and contentment.

Your spiritual journey during illness can begin with simply beginning to notice what feelings come up when you think of not being able to work or accomplish projects because of illness. Are you comparing yourself to others, ill or not? Do you view your personal worth diminished as a result of these comparisons?

Illness is about adaptation to change and acceptance. There is great opportunity for spiritual growth. When you focus on healing and doing what you need to do to find your spiritual center you will likely develop resilience and strength that you did not know you had.

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