Pulmonary Fibrosis Patients: Treat Yourself with Kindness, Compassion

Kim Fredrickson avatar

by Kim Fredrickson |

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Treat Yourself with Kindness and Compassion

Treating yourself with kindness and compassion is essential for a healthy and balanced life, especially for those with pulmonary fibrosis

As a marriage and family therapist for the past 30 years, I have walked in the trenches with people going through very difficult times. I noticed that clients who learned to treat themselves with kindness and compassion grew through their struggles, and became more solid and mature on the inside. Going through life with a kind friend on the inside, rather than an internal critic or bully, makes all the difference in the world.

As a pulmonary fibrosis patient, I know what it is like to deal with stress from many areas. Dealing with loss of health, using supplemental oxygen, forced retirement, financial stress, medical procedures, grief, loss of future plans and, of course, living with the emotional stress from  having a terminal illness is an enormous amount to handle. Read the post below, or click the video I made for you.

Treating myself with kindness and compassion helps me so much, and I hope it will help you, too.

I’m guessing you are kind and compassionate with others in your life. Most likely you are understanding and empathetic with them when they make mistakes or struggle with life. How about being that way with yourself? Ok, I’ll go first.

Just this morning…

Treating Yourself with Kindness and CompassionI packed up all the gear I needed to go out. I decided to go to a coffee shop and sit for a while to write this post. By the time I filled my two liquid oxygen portables, plus added my portable oxygen concentrator, computer, and cords, I was tired. I got it all in my rolling box and made my way to the car. When I got there, I thought this is too hard, maybe I’ll just go back inside … and it was raining.

I sat in the car for a while and did some slow, steady breathing to calm myself. Then I said this:

“Yes, that is really hard. It is so much work to go anywhere. I’m tired – I’ll just rest a bit until I feel better. I just did the most difficult part, getting everything in the car. I’ll sit for a while and see if I still want to go. I like the idea of getting out of the house in a nice environment to focus on writing this post. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing something wrong to get so tired when doing simple things. But I’m not, I’m actually brave and strong to keep going even though doing “simple” things aren’t simple for me any more. No matter what I decide it’s fine and a success.”

I did end up going to the coffee shop, where I wrote this column. Little did I know just getting here would be the example to share with you.

Treating yourself with kindness and compassion, which I call self-compassion, is a balance of truth and grace.

Here’s the truth part: “The situation I’m going through is really hard, or I made a mistake”

Here’s the grace part: “There are reasons why I’m struggling, or made a mistake. No matter what, I have worth and value, and if I need to make an adjustment or correct a mistake I will.”

So, here’s what I learned…

My husband offered to put things in the car before he left, but I said, “No, I can get it all.”  I was right, I did get it all, but it made me too tired. Next time I’m going to say yes, and have him put everything in the car except the oxygen I need to walk there.

I’m still getting used to my new liquid O2 system, and until I’m confident, I also need to bring my back-up portable concentrator. On this trip it was good I did, because the liquid portables have been giving me trouble, and I ended up having to use the back-up machine.

We can show ourselves kindness and compassion when we tell ourselves kindly … 

~ It’s OK to be learning and not know how to do everything.

~ I have a disease that is slowly progressing, and I will continue to adjust to my new normal with each change.

~ It’s normal to be sad, angry, confused and scared about each loss and challenge I’m going through.

~ I’m so sorry I’m going through this.

~ I’m not going to be hard on myself for struggling or making mistakes.

~ I’m doing the best I can and I’m heroic for hanging in there.

~ I want to learn how to handle my humanness and the situations I’m in with empathy, concern, understanding and kindness. It’s OK that I may not know how to do this yet.

( Some of these kind statements might sink in a bit deeper if you watch or listen to the video above.)

There is so much we can’t control. Treating ourselves with kindness and compassion is something we can control.

Self-compassion helps to soothe my soul, brings truth and grace to my heart, and helps me be a friend to myself on my PF journey. We are with ourselves 100% of the time. The way you interact with yourself has a greater impact on you than any interactions you have with others.

Please join me in treating yourself with kindness and compassion. I’ll have at least another 10 opportunities today! I write about self-compassion, so if you’d like to learn more go to www.kimfredrickson.com

I’d love to hear from you.

What stood out to you? What part of my story could you relate to? When do you have the hardest time being kind and compassionate with yourself? Do you have any tips to share with me to treat yourself with kindness and compassion?

Please leave your comments below and share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit.

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.




Roger Coles avatar

Roger Coles

Thanks Kim your video has been a big help as I am disappointed, angry, and frightened, as I was only diagnosed with IPF in August this year. All the things you mentioned are coming to me at a great speed, as I to am still working and see the plans for the future being changed or curtailed. I will visit your site and keep up the great work.

Kim Fredrickson avatar

Kim Fredrickson

Hello Roger,
I'm so sorry you've been diagnosed with ipf. I understand all the feelings you are having...all so normal, and so hard. My mind was so scrambled and my heart overwhelmed for AT LEAST the first 6 months. It is so much to handle at one time. I continued to work for awhile, then went to part time, and then stopped completely. I know how hard it is to see the future you thought you had change so quickly. Be kind to yourself as you navigate this road. I'm so glad you took the time to leave a comment. It helps to be in this together.

I'm so glad my video was helpful. I have more on YouTube that might be encouraging for you http://bit.ly/2cL2JeA

Best Wishes to you Roger, Kim

Jan Chicoine avatar

Jan Chicoine

Thank you Kim! Your example of self compassion is beautiful. It is hard to not be able to do the activities we had been used to doing before PF and learning ways to keep going has been a challenge, at times a disappointment, and is also a great teacher. I appreciate your blog and your tenacity to take the steps to keep liquid oxygen.


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