Focusing Tip #701 – “I have a chronic illness and my partner is harsh with me”

Focusing Tip #701 – “I have a chronic illness and my partner is harsh with me”
April 22, 2020 Ann Weiser Cornell
"My partner has been harsh with me lately about what I am eating or doing, and I am just unable to cope with this..."

Focusing Tip #701 – “I have a chronic illness and my partner is harsh with me”

What if you struggle with inner and outer voices that say you are not doing enough? Read on…

R writes:

I have a chronic illness that causing a lot of suffering in my body and emotional well being. I sometimes feel like I am weak for not handling it better. I’ve tried many things to “better manage” it but keep failing.

I feel like my partner has been harsh with me lately about what I am eating or doing (or not doing) and I am just unable to cope with this as it feels like a critique and with no understanding that I am doing the best I can. But I also end up feeling like I am lazy or not trying hard enough and that I am a burden to be around.

Is there a way Focusing can help me process the reactions I am getting from those that also experience me at my worst?

Dear R:

I’m so sad and sorry to hear about what you are going through. During a time of physical pain and suffering it’s especially challenging to be calm and take a wider perspective… as I well know!

Let me say first that your partner is probably worried about you. We humans tend to get critical of others we love when we feel helpless to actually do anything for them.

On a day when you’re feeling relatively strong, you might try saying, “Sweetie, I know you are really worried about me, and I appreciate that. I’m worried too. But you know what? I’m actually doing the best I can, and you can help me by seeing that.”

But more important — because more in your own power — is your inner relationship with the part of you that doubts yourself.

If you could hold the faith that you actually are doing the best you can, it would be easier to see your partner as simply worried about you.

So here’s what I would suggest.

When you find yourself having the thought that (for example) you are not trying hard enough, separate from the part of you having that thought:

“Something in me is saying that I am not trying hard enough.”

And then say Hello to that part of you that is saying that. It’s not all of you… and you don’t have to agree or disagree with it.

Now say to it:

“Might you be worried about me not trying hard enough?”

That’s right… the part inside you that is critical of you is worried!

Just like the person you live with who is critical of you is (probably) worried. I don’t know for sure about the other person. But I can guarantee you that your inner critic is terribly worried… or it wouldn’t say those things to you.

If there is more … or something else … that you could be doing, you’ll be better able to recognize what it is if you are being kind to yourself. Plus your immune system will get stronger because you’re not stressing yourself as much. Not bad for a little shift in your inner relationship!

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