Multiple Sclerosis

How to Get Out of Your Own Way

February 28, 2024

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How to Get Out of Your Own Way with Multiple Sclerosis Alene Brennan

Have you ever felt like you’re standing in your own way and you can’t figure out how to get out of the way?

It’s like you’re your own worst enemy. 

If this feels like the story of your life, I want to have a heart to hear with you. 

I can definitely relate. 

I’ve been there, and in many ways I’m still there, but we don’t have to stay here. 

Today I’m sharing what I’ve learned to finally get out of your own way so that you can start moving through life – even life with MS – with more ease. 

Here’s my top 10 list for getting out of your own way.

1. Stop Overcommitting to Responsibilities

When you were diagnosed with MS, which of these two thoughts ran through your mind first:

  • I’m just going to have to work harder because I’m not letting MS take anything from me.
  • I’m now managing a chronic illness of which fatigue is one of the most common symptoms, so I need to trim the excess in my life so I can make more space to start taking care of myself and managing MS. 

Most of us fall into the first camp thinking… “I’m just going to have to work harder to maintain pre-MS levels of productivity at both work and home.” 

We live with an invisible disease and we get frustrated when other people don’t recognize how much harder it is for us to do anything! 

And yet, we don’t even give ourselves that grace. 

We even hold ourselves to our Pre-MS standard. 

What does this lead to?

Burnout and exacerbation of symptoms.

So what if this year was the year that we didn’t overcommit?

What if this is the year that we actually created some space for ourselves?

What if this year you truly embraced the art of saying ‘no’ to too many responsibilities?

We need to understand our limits. 

Understanding Our Limits

We all live this firsthand, so you don’t need me to tell you this, but maybe you do need the reminder like me… With MS, our energy levels are different than they used to be. 

We need to recognize this and plan accordingly.

It’s not an act of “giving in” to MS. 

It’s a sign of strength that we’re going to make sure that MS and all we have the time and energy for what is most important to us. 

For example, ever since becoming a mom, I’ve been so much more selective with my time. 

I realize that MS fatigue can pop up and I don’t want that to ever stand in the way of me being the mom that I want to be. 

So… the tidy house that I used to obsess over, doesn’t look the same. 

It’s clean and relatively organized but I’m not chasing down every single thing that’s out of place anymore. 

So as we talk about not overcommitting maybe that means that you’re letting go of something like that or maybe it’s the 5K kids activities that weighs on you and you decide that each of your kids gets to pick one activity or they don’t attend every birthday party. 

Setting Boundaries

So what parameter might you need to set that will be in the best interest of you and your family?

If you’re feeling overcommitted, it’s on you to make a change. 

Don’t wait for someone else to change it for you, you need to initiate it. 

It’s one of my greatest intentions this year. 

I want to do fewer things but go deeper on them. 

And if I’m being honest, it’s a daily battle for me, but I’m not willing to tolerate constantly feeling tapped out. 

It’s on me to trim my responsibilities so they match my energy levels and my priorities in life are which are my:

  • Faith
  • Health 
  • Family 
  • Mission of supporting the MS community.

How can you get your responsibilities to better match your energy levels and life priorities? 

2. Stop Neglecting Self-Care

It’s so easy to think of self-care as selfish pampering, but it’s an important aspect of healing.

It doesn’t require a lot of time or money, but it does require your commitment to it.

If you’re like me, you likely need to regain that trust with your body that you will take care of yourself.

What is one self care practice that you can start doing this week?

  • Is it a daily walk?
  • Reading a daily devotional?
  • Weekly face mask?
  • Attending a weekly yoga class?
  • Taking the time to diffuse essential oils in your home?

Self care looks and feels different for each of us, but it’s important to maintain it, in order to maintain our health – especially as we’re living with MS.  

3. Get Social

I love my friends. 

I love seeing them in person, hugging them… I love all of it. 

But I also am very much a homebody. 

So if left to my own devices, I’ll stay home all day everyday. 

That’s not good. 

Social interactions are important for us. 

We are meant to live in community. 

So are you standing in your own way of giving and receiving support and love by avoiding social events and new relationships. 

What is one small baby step that you could take to overcome this?

It doesn’t need to be a big commitment, but what is one small step that you can take to overcome this? 

4. Be Willing to Accept (and Ask for) Help

This is doozy if you ask me. 

I’m constantly standing in my own way of asking for help. 

I think I flat out resist it. Maybe it’s a pride thing. Like I don’t want to be dependent upon someone else.

I want to be able to do it all by myself. 

But for what? So I can say that I did it all, as I’m completely burned out. That doesn’t make sense. 

Stop resisting help. 

Accept it. 

It’s a give and take relationship. 

If it feels better to you, for this one identify one thing that you can ask for or receive help, and then, in another area, identify one way that you can GIVE or offer help. 

5. Set Realistic Expectations

I keep saying that THIS is the one that I want to focus on this year. 

And maybe this is why this one is so important. 

Am I alone with always having such high expectations for myself? 

I doubt it! 

In this community here, we’re all cut from a similar cloth my friends. 

It’s why we gel so well together. 

I know my expectations weren’t realistic of my pre-MS self so they definitely aren’t realistic of my post MS self!

I’m learning that I can actually be far more effective by doing less, and doing it really well. 

It’s more enjoyable and again, it’s more effective. 

So, look at your expectations for yourself right now – both on a short term perspective and a long term perspective, do either need to be adjusted? 

If so, what’s the first step in making those adjustments? 

Ignoring this step can only lead to frustration and constantly feeling defeated. 

But when you set realistic goals, you allow yourself some breathing room to live, to heal, to enjoy life… and to be more productive with your responsibilities. 

6. Learn to Practice Open Communication

I used to shy away from open communications or deep conversations. 

There was too much vulnerability required and that felt so uncomfortable. 

I always stayed in the listening role. Maybe that was God’s way of training me to be an effective coach!

Opening Up About MS

But I remember when I was first diagnosed with MS, I kept my diagnosis under lock and key. 

I didn’t want to tell anyone! 

But I got to a point of feeling really resentful at the fact that I felt like I had to carry around the weight of my diagnosis in secret.

I didn’t want to live like that anymore. And so I didn’t. 

I started sharing my diagnosis with other people – one friend, one conversation at a time and it was so healing. 

And becoming a better communicator has helped me tremendously in talking with my husband about MS. 

I’m able to speak up sooner and be more honest about how I’m feeling so my frustration with MS fatigue doesn’t end up coming out towards him. 

I jump in front of it to let him know how I’m feeling and what support I need. 

My communications are far from perfect, but I can definitely say that this is an area that I have grown tremendously. 

So my question to you is where are you currently shying away from open communications and how can you take one step to changing that?

Maybe that first step is writing in a journal so that you can get honest with yourself about how you feel.

Remember, we’re talking about how to get out of your own way. 

So even though some of these steps are uncomfortable, they are ultimately going to be really freeing. 

7. Stop Ignoring Emotional Health

This one should be titled, how to get out of your own way from healing. 

Emotions are the most overlooked area when it comes to healing. 

I talked a lot about this in all of my programs

But the bottom line is we have to acknowledge and process our emotions. 

We go on an emotional rollercoaster when we’re diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

And it can feel like we never get off that roller coaster if we don’t take the time to process the fear, the doubt and all the uncertainty. 

Ignoring emotional health is 100% standing in your own way of not only healing but enjoying life. 

And I would go as far to say that this one ties in with the previous one we talked about in – creating space for more open communications. 

8. Shake Up Old Routine

Now let me preface this one by saying, I’m a fan of routines and I think they’re a highly efficient way to live. 

However, in the context of standing in your own way, if we become too set in our ways, we may be following old routines that no longer serve us as this stage in life or healing. 

It’s important to periodically check in with our routines to make sure that they’re best serving us and adapt them as needed. 

Are there any routines that need to be re-evaluated? 

As you go about your day, be aware of the routines that you’ve set and see if any need to be freshened up. 

9. Utilize Support Networks

Too often times, we think we need to handle everything ourselves, but support networks exist for a reason.

And it’s the number one thing that love about my programs. 

Yes, they love the education – the videos, cooking demos, recipes, simple implementation charts, but above all, they love the sense of community. 

Find your people who get it. 

Don’t do MS alone. 

Find your people… I hope you consider this community here to be your MS family!

10. Stop comparing Herself to Others

This is never more important than in the age of social media. 

We call into the trap of comparison. 

It’s doing us no favors! 

Everyone’s Journey is Unique… especially with MS. 

Your path with MS is unique to you.

Comparing it to others’ experiences, especially those without MS, is like comparing apples to oranges.

Focus on YOUR wins: Celebrate your own milestones and progress, no matter how small they may seem.

I Want to Hear From You!

And now, let’s celebrate that we made it to the end of this list!

I hope you feel better equipped to getting out of your own way now.

Please share in the comments below which step resonated the most with you. I love hearing from you!

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I'm Alene, your MS Sister.

When I was diagnosed with MS in 2016, I was scared and felt alone. But as a Nutrition Coach, I knew there was more to healing than what I was being told. I took action and within six months the lesions I had on my brain shrunk and went inactive. Now, seven years later there has been no new lesions and no new activity. As a nutritionist specializing in multiple sclerosis, I help women take back control of their future.

That’s my story, but I’m not alone. It's your turn to start Thriving with MS. I’m here to show you the way. 

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