I tend to blame myself for a lot of things that I probably should not. Sometimes it’s obvious things like a relationship that didn’t work out or a promotion I didn’t get. While there may have been things in these types of situations that I could have done better or things I shouldn’t have done, the fact is that I can’t change it and can only learn from the mistakes. As I said, there a lot of things that are obvious, but what I didn’t realize until the other day was that I truly believe I blame myself for having IBS. I believe that it is my fault. Whether we know it or not, I think there are probably more than a few of us that feel this way.
"What if's" of IBS
IBS can cause any number of emotions. From anger to shame, depression to anxiety, IBS definitely causes our emotional selves to quite the rollercoaster ride. In my case, the shame and anger, especially, come from my belief that my lifestyle and other health problems have been the root cause of my IBS.
- If I had only taken better care of myself in my 20s.
- If I had not overindulged in alcohol and cigarettes…I would not have IBS.
- If I had not overindulged in coffee and fast food…I would not have IBS.
- If I had managed my anxiety and stress better.
- If I had exercised more often.
- If I…you get the point.
What does your blame game look like? It could look a lot different from person to person, depending on the lives we have led. I’m sure there are many well-adjusted individuals out there who just look at the illness for what it is and don’t apply any deeper meaning to it. I am not one of those people and I have a feeling that I am not alone.
Analyzing my "how?" and "why?"
Whether or not my less than healthy early adulthood contributed to my IBS is up for debate. While anxiety and stress are often linked to IBS, I am by no means certain that this is the seed that planted the illness. None of my doctors are sure either. Therefore, I have no tangible proof that there is anything that I need to blame myself for at all. But, I do and this contributes in part to my ability or inability to manage the illness. It doesn’t help. All this type of thinking does is hurt. So what do we do about it?
Go easy on yourself
It doesn’t matter if what I believe is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ I still have IBS. The importance of letting ourselves be happy is integral to providing the right environment for healing, which is exactly what we need to fight this illness. Acceptance and letting go of the past are very important in this process as is the ability to understand that we are all human beings who make mistakes and that we are not alone in this. Be kind to yourself, let yourself off the hook. In the end, your stomach and your mind will thank you for it.
Do you have a good understanding of what triggers your flares?