Posted by: gaylejervis | February 4, 2011



Are there steps to help the chronically ill regain or retain their positive self-image?

In yesterday’s blog, I listed popular steps to a positive self-image:

Today,  I want to look at the first three steps more closely to assess whether they can be applied to people whose self-image has been battered due to illness.

First Step: Take a Self-Image Inventory: What kind of image do we have of ourselves since we have become ill?  Have there been changes in our perception about our intelligence, our appearance, our talents, and our personality traits?  If you answer the questions to the following questionnaire, would your answers lean heavily upon your perceptions of who you were when you were well?

  1. I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on equal plane with others.
  2. I feel that I have a number of good qualities
  3. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.
  4. I am able to do things as well as most other people
  5. I feel I Do not have as much to be proud of as others.
  6. I take a positive attitude toward myself
  7. I have as much influence on others as they have on me
  8. On the whole,  I am satisfied with myself
  9. I wish I could have more respect for myself
  10. I certainly feel useless at times
  11. At times I think I am no good at all

If you are interested in taking this questionnaire and receiving a score for your self-image, check the following web-site:

If some of your scores are low, are they being impacted by your beliefs or philosophy?

For example, if you are not  proud of yourself, is it because you believe that you must be able to list many accomplishments in order to be proud of yourself?   Or are you dissatisfied with yourself because you believe life should be fair and that you don’t “deserve” to be suffering?  Do you feel useless because you believe that you are only useful if you  “do something that is of some value or benefit to someone?

If we are going to retain a positive self-image while chronically ill, we must especially modify our beliefs about the importance of productivity, accomplishments and usefulness.

The Second Step:  Define personal goals and objectives

The Third Step:  Set realistic and measurable goals

At first I wanted to respond to these two steps sarcastically since the chronically ill definitely cannot list a lot of goals and objectives without feeling immediately discouraged!   And yet just recently I wrote about the importance of setting goals while chronically ill!

Our goals must reflect what will best help us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually so that we can live well while chronically ill.  Recently, I realized that I must start a new goal to maintain my emotional balance.  I find it much simpler to stay home when I have long bouts of pain and severe fatigue.  Therefore, I was rather surprised when recently, while talking to my daughter, I began crying and I asked her if she could come pick me up since I just had to get out of this house!  She was rather surprised since days earlier she had asked me if she could come pick me up and I had declined.  As a result of this experience, I have set a new measurable goal:  leave the house  for a short while at least once during the weekday and at least once during the weekend.

This next point is true for everyone but unequivocally true for the chronically ill :  be REALISTIC!  If I set the goal to exercise 30 minutes every day and state what that exercise will be, I am setting myself up for failure. !  However, if I state that I will   exercise every day but it doesn’t matter how long or what I do  – yes, even 5 minutes of exercise while lying in bed counts– then I have established a realistic goal.

QUESTION:  Do you have a belief or philosophy that is impacting your self-image negatively?  What kind of goals can you make that will help you live well while chronically ill?



  1. Excellent way to bring those pesky self-defeating bugs out of hiding and into the light. If we can’t see ’em we can’t learn to live well even when our way of living well is no longer the mainstream idea.

    Thank you – I think I was meant to find this today as I work on some of those bugs.


    • Thanks for sharing this with me. It’s very gratifying to know that what I have written might just encourage someone else.

  2. As usual, your comments make sense. However, it’s the title of your comment (perhaps unintended) which reminds me of The Animal’s song “We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place”. I looked up the lyrics to it and although I always knew the key line, I didn’t remember or likely didn’t even hear or understand the rest of the song which I heard as a teenager. Anyway, one verse seems to bring it all together now.
    “We got to get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do, We got to get out of this place,
    There’s a better life, there’s a better world, there’s a better way!”
    Sounds like that’s your attitude too! Good for you. Next time, let’s both feel comfortable enough to say, ‘let’s get out of this place and go for a Peppermint Tea at Tim’s”!!

    • Yes, the title was deliberate. I should have included a youtube for that song since I’ve been known to sing that chorus in fun and in frustration!!

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  5. […] I’ve Got To Get Out of This Place […]

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