Striving to reach our greatest personal, social, academic and or professional potential is encouraged in Westernized societies. Individual success is a highly rated family and community value. Collectivist family values are in contrast to the above. The latter social and family system provides a network where every person’s identity and value is for the common good of all. The former system requires a far greater sense of self responsibility to successfully maintain our personal well being. Therefore, in our individualist family value society, people coping with a chronic illness of any kind are expected to identify, understand and be responsible for personal health status and act accordingly.
Personal responsibility for our health includes knowing and understanding limitations of self in daily life. This may include acknowledging and feeling our anxiety, fear, anger and grief. Success of this largely depends on our image or sense of self within our Westernized community structure.
The sense of our individualized self within the symbolic interaction between ourselves and our world around us may lead us into a realm of exaggerated self expectation. We tend to ignore or at the very least, easily overlook our personal limitations on a day to day basis. As individuals, we may become unreasonable with ourselves when not meeting our mind’s eye image of what we ought to be able to accomplish. Whilst all to frequently forgetting it is okay to make mistakes, there is no requirement for us to meet unreasonable self expectations. It is okay to go easy on ourselves, especially when experiencing pain or discomfort on a regular basis. We can learn and apply skills of self care and management of chronic medical conditions through a change of lifestyle and personal commitments.
For people living with dystonia in its many forms, life can become unbalanced between what we feel comfortable with in daily routine and our perception of what others expect of us. It is so important for us to identify our limitations, live within our capabilities and seek out the companionship of others experiencing the same kind of challenges.
My next article will focus on Dystonia: collectivising our experiences. Please leave a comment or e-mail me if you have something you would like to say.
Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org