You're doing really well

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When did you last tell yourself that you’re doing really well?

Or comfort and praise yourself and acknowledge the progress you’ve made?

Probably not often. It might seem like the opposite, that you’re doing very badly. But that’s not true.

For a start, this awful illness hasn’t crushed us, we’re still here. Sure, it’s got us on the ropes. But we’re only down, not out, and every step in our recovery journey is positive, even if it feels tiny and even if it feels like we're going backwards sometimes.

Learning to comfort and praise ourselves means we can be there for ourself, coaching ourself through the ups and downs that are an inherent part of recovery.

Just as the accumulation of small bits of negativity over time can be a death by a thousand cuts, we can also gradually build a wave of positive reinforcement through small bits of praise and appreciation.

It’s a type of self soothing and affirmation, as well as a way of building trust with your body.

We’ve genuinely earned it. When you have a good day, you’ve done really well to reach that point. When you have a bad day, getting through it is also an achievement. Keeping going and moving forward, no matter what that looks like, is a success that deserves to be recognised.

It’s also a counterbalance to the challenges, negativity and emotional overload that can often be present, both in our lives and in the stories and research we read about ME/CFS.

This isn’t false positivity - we’re not pretending that everything is great when it isn’t. We’re also not trying to inflate our egos. We’re simply recognising and rewarding the small actions and attitudes that cumulatively lead to our recovery.

Ultimately, our recovery is unique to us, so we are the ones who need to be there for ourselves. We can do that simply by telling ourselves that we’re doing really well. Then saying it again over time until it starts to sink in.

When I first started saying this to myself, it felt weird. That’s partly because I wasn’t used to ever praising myself, so even when I’d had a huge success I just moved on to the next thing. Looking back, that was an uncaring and distant way to treat myself, but it’s possible to change this.

I now tell myself that I’m doing really well multiple times per day. It’s a big help when it’s a challenging time, and I also try to celebrate with my body when things are going well.

Try telling yourself this daily, using whatever words feel right for you. Especially in the difficult moments, put your arms mentally or even literally around yourself (I do this and it really works) and reassure yourself that you really are doing well, that you see, understand and appreciate everything that you’re doing.

If you can praise yourself in this way and build it into a habit, you build trust with your body and make your recovery journey that bit calmer, easier and more compassionate. When you come out the other end you’ll be not just strong, but also kind to yourself.

Keep going. You’re doing really well.