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Struggling with self-worth and a sense of purpose as someone living with chronic illness? Trust me, you’re not alone.

Many of us have experienced that nagging feeling that our worth and purpose have somehow been diminished by our health challenges.

Before our chronic illness, we might have bought into the idea that our worth only mattered if we were constantly productive and serving others more than ourselves. But then, as our health took a toll and we couldn’t keep up the same level of productivity, our self-worth took a hit, and we felt like we lost our sense of purpose.

Let’s face it: chronic illness turns our lives upside down. It forces us to accept that our journey is different from what we had imagined. And in the midst of coping with our condition, it becomes essential to rediscover a sense of purpose that aligns with our new reality.

 

In this blog post, we’re going to dive deep into why our self-worth and sense of purpose can change when we become chronically ill. But more importantly, we’ll explore practical strategies to help us rediscover our life’s purpose and start living life on our own terms, not dictated by our diagnosis or experiences.

So, let’s get started on this journey of self-discovery and reclaiming our sense of purpose while living with chronic illness!

Disclaimer: While I offer tips for maintaining wellness while dealing with a chronic illness, I’m not a licensed medical physician, psychotherapist, or psychologist, and I’m not offering medical or psychiatric advice.

For my full disclaimer policy, go here.

Brunette woman in navy pajamas curled up on pink chair with eyes closed. | Rediscover your life's purpose and find empowerment while living with chronic illness. Learn how to embrace self-compassion, navigate shifting perspectives, and adapt to changing circumstances. Find fulfillment and triumph over challenges as you uncover your unique purpose and live a meaningful life.

Measuring Our Worth Based on Society’s Standards

You know how society often tells us that our worth is based on what we can produce and contribute to the world? Well, when you’re living with chronic illness, it’s like those expectations get magnified.

Many of us have to change our work situations or even stop working altogether because of our health. And when we can’t meet society’s standards, we might start feeling like our worth has been taken away.

But here’s the thing: we shouldn’t let society define our value. Our worth goes way beyond what we can physically do or achieve. It’s about who we are as individuals, our unique perspectives, and our ability to face challenges with resilience.

Our value comes from within.

When we start recognizing our own worth, we can break free from the pressure to constantly compare ourselves to others. We can celebrate the small victories, take care of ourselves, and find meaning in our lives despite our health struggles.

By embracing self-compassion and understanding that our worth isn’t tied to society’s expectations, we open ourselves up to discovering our true purpose. It’s about exploring what brings us joy, fulfillment, and a sense of meaning.

Our purpose is about being true to ourselves and finding what matters most to us, regardless of what society says.

So remember, you are valuable just as you are. Your worth isn’t determined by external measures. It’s about embracing who you are and living a life aligned with your values and passions. When you let go of society’s standards and focus on your own self-worth, you can find your purpose and live a fulfilling life, even with chronic illness.

Rediscovering Your Life's Purpose While Chronically Ill | Quote by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

Changing Perspectives and Embracing Self-Compassion

This quote by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has stuck with me, especially since I’ve been living with chronic illness. He said, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” It seems so simple, yet it’s really helped shift my perspective out of hopelessness and back into possibility.

It’s like a light-bulb moment when you realize that accepting the changes in your life can actually bring you peace. Our lives won’t be the same as they once were, and that can be tough to swallow. But consider this: when we change our perspective and embrace the new reality, everything starts to shift.

Instead of dwelling on what we can’t do anymore or feeling limited by our health, we can focus on finding new ways to thrive and enjoy life. It’s about looking at things from a different angle and discovering the hidden opportunities within our circumstances.

Sure, it’s not always easy, but when we open ourselves up to the possibilities and let go of the past, we create space for positive change. So, let’s embrace Dr. Dyer’s wisdom and start looking at things in a new light, opening ourselves up to possibilities.

The Importance of Self-Worth and Purpose for the Chronically Ill

Finding a sense of purpose can truly brighten our good days and give us the strength to push through those tough ones. It’s like having a beacon of hope that reminds us our illness and struggles don’t have the power to define our entire lives.

Now, here’s the thing: Whether we had a crystal-clear purpose before chronic illness came knocking at our door or if we were still figuring it out, it’s crucial to recognize that our purpose is not set in stone. It has the incredible ability to change and evolve as we journey through different stages of life, adapting to our current limitations.

Think about it like this: Our purpose is like a flexible companion, always ready to shift and transform alongside us. It doesn’t get stuck in one rigid form. Instead, it gracefully adjusts to match our circumstances, our abilities, and our ever-changing needs.

So, even if you’re facing uncertainties or grappling with new limitations due to your chronic illness, remember that your purpose is not confined by these challenges. It has the power to flourish and shine in unexpected ways, no matter what life throws your way.

Allow yourself to explore and redefine what your purpose means to you now. Embrace the journey of self-discovery and growth. You might find that your purpose takes on a new depth, a new dimension that you hadn’t imagined before.

Keep reading for 4 ways to get started exploring your new sense of purpose.

4 Steps to Rediscovering Your Life’s Purpose When Chronically Ill

#1

Start small by finding the purpose in the little things in your life – what’s your reason for waking up in the morning? It can be as simple as looking forward to watching the sun rise, or enjoying that first sip of coffee or tea. It doesn’t have to impact anyone but you, or have some profound meaning – it just needs to be a reason 

Sometimes, we can over-complicate things by thinking that simple equals less meaningful or impactful. But one of the things I’ve learned from being chronically ill is how much of a relief it can be to lean into the practice of simplicity in all areas of my life, and how empowering it is to know that simple can sometimes be even more meaningful – and sacred – as anything else. 

Once you’ve chosen something, take some time to reflect on this. What about this thing drives you to want to wake up and how can it become a seed for a sense of purpose for you?

#2

Next, move onto the positive impact your life can still have on others

When living with chronic illness, we can have the tendency to feel like our lives can no longer benefit others, but that’s just not true. Oftentimes, as I’ve experienced from interacting with the chronically ill community over on Instagram, is that just living our lives and allowing others to witness our experiences can be such a powerful way to benefit others.

But you don’t have to be this vulnerable about your illness and circumstances if that doesn’t feel good to you. There’s many other ways you can still positively impact those around you.

  • Do you have friends, family or pets that you care for, or a home that you help manage? There’s part of your purpose.  
  • Are you active in a faith community or another organization that uplifts others? There’s another part of your purpose. 
  • Do you volunteer, or donate financially to charities? Do you always have a smile and a kind word for your neighbors and those you interact with? Spreading hope and joy are part of your purpose.

All of these things are simple, yet powerful ways your life and efforts hold meaning for others

Rediscovering Your Life's Purpose While Chronically Ill | List of 4 tips from the blog post

#3

Another powerful way to rediscover your purpose is by connecting with others in the chronic illness community – especially if you can find one that’s specific to your illness or condition. 

The support you can gain, and give, will be an amazing reminder of your purpose, and you can lean on those who may be more experienced in the struggle to rediscover a sense of purpose and learn from their lives. 

And when the time comes, you may find yourself being that person that someone leans on!

So go ahead, get comfy and grab your phone, tablet, laptop, or however you get online and find your new friends in the virtual world. Some of my favorite social media accounts and groups for those who are chronically ill are:

 

The Mighty

The C Spot

The Unchargeables

Fighting Through Chronic Illness

 

#4

Lastly, look for any similarities or patterns in the emotions behind what you’ve come up with in the previous steps. Chances are, there’s one main feeling that runs throughout all of these experiences. 

If you don’t notice a theme, consider which emotion brings the biggest smile to your face

These feelings are your purpose – you’re here to bring more of this to yourself and those around you. So keep doing those things, and if you’re able, do more of them.

Rediscovering your life’s purpose when chronically ill really is something that’s accesible to you!

Navigating life with chronic illness can bring about profound shifts in our sense of self-worth and purpose. However, it’s important to remember that our worth and purpose are not defined solely by our health or abilities

 

By embracing self-compassion, changing our perspectives, and understanding that our purpose can evolve, we can rediscover a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Each of us has a unique purpose that can shine through, even in the face of chronic illness. 

So, let’s embrace our journey, lean into our purpose, and live a life that is rich with meaning, despite the challenges we may encounter. Remember, you are deserving of a purposeful and fulfilling life, and your chronic illness does not diminish your worth.

 

And – if you also struggle with the intrusive thoughts that chronic illness can bring, be sure to check out the free Chronic Illness Affirmations printable below!

May your flares be few and your spoons be plenty,

April Smith, founder and coach at The Thriving Spoonie, a compassionate and empowering brand for those with chronic illness. A smiling cisgender woman with short wavy brown hair, green eyes, and dressed in a blue denim shirt, confidently faces the camera, smiling. The image is overlaid in the top right area with her name in black script.
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