(2) Additional Aphorisms by Morrie Schwartz

Morrie’s Aphorisms

  • Whenever a lessening of a physical power occurs, it will always feel too soon. Expect this reaction. Perhaps by preparing for it mentally, you can soften its impact.
  • Accept yourself, your physical condition, and your fate as they are at the present moment.
  • Expect that it’s going to be harder and take longer to do things. Be prepared to do things in ways that are very different from the ways you did them before.
  • Get as much help as you can when you need it.
  • Don’t stay preoccupied with your body or your illness. Recognize that your body is not your total self, only part of it.
  •  Expect things to be inaccessible, unattainable, unreachable. When they are, don’t get too frustrated or angry. If you do, let it be short-lived.
  • Expect stressful situations to occur as your illness progresses or acts up. Develop an approach to managing your emotions during these occurrences.
  • Watch for emotional, spiritual, or behavioral regressions when you are most vulnerable. Try to avoid, minimize, or stop your regression.
  • When you are utterly frustrated or angry, express these feelings. You don’t have to be nice all the time—just most of the time.
  • Grieve and mourn for yourself, not once or twice, but again and again. Grieving is a great catharsis and comfort and a way of keeping yourself composed.
  • Make an agreement with your family and friends to remind you when you’re depressed, anxious, despairing, or lacking in composure that you do not want to stay that way. Ask them for a compassionate nudge.
  • After you have wept and grieved for you physical losses, cherish the functions and the life you have left.
  • Try to develop an inner emotional or spiritual peace to balance the distresses of your body. You might begin by learning to accept “what is” for you at any particular time.
  • Expect to feel like a dependent child and an independent adult at different times.
  • At some point, be prepared to deal with profound contradictory feelings—for example, wanting to live and wanting to die, loving others and disliking them.
  • If you find yourself fantasizing that you are no longer sick and have been restored to your previous level of functioning, stay with the fantasy as long s it gives you pleasure. But return to reality when the fantasy becomes painful or when it is otherwise necessary for you to do so.
  • Come to terms with the fact that you will never again be fully physically comfortable. Enjoy the times you are comfortable enough.
  • Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it. Reminisce about it, but don’t live in it. Learn from it, but don’t punish yourself about it or continually regret it. Don’t get stuck in it.
  • Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others. Ask for forgiveness from others. Forgiveness can soften the heart, drain the bitterness, and dissolve your guilt
  • All the work you have actively done on yourself—all the experiences you have had in your life—can be used to maintain your composure. You have these resources. Draw on them.
  • Be occupied with or focused on things and issues that are of interest, importance, and concern to you. Remain passionately involved in them.
  • Resist the temptation to think of yourself as useless. It will only lead to depression. Find your own ways of being and feeling useful.
  • Don’t assume that it’s too late to become involved or to redirect your interests.
  • Take in a much joy as you can whenever and however you can. You may find it in unpredictable places and situations.
  • Keep your heart open for as long as you can, as wide as you can, for others and especially for yourself. Be generous, decent, and welcoming.
  • Recognize the difference between what you want and need. Your need to feel connected to other people is as vital to human survival as food, water, and shelter.
  • Talk openly about your illness with those who’ll listen. It will help them cope with their own vulnerabilities as well as your own.
  • Maintain and continue a support system, individually and collectively, of people who care about you and vice versa. Do not make demands that others are not ready or willing to fulfill. You may drive them away. Accept their refusal graciously.
  • Know that your friends and family may see you as less incapacitated than you are because they want you to be “better.” They have this need because they care about you. Accept this, while trying to convey your current reality without imposing it on them
  • Let others’ affection, love, concern, interest, admiration, and respect be enough to keep you composed.
  • Be loving, compassionate, and gentle toward yourself. Befriend yourself. Do not put yourself down or criticize yourself continuously.
  • Find ways to maintain your inner privacy even when your privacy is being invaded by external necessities.
  • If you are ill, you can experience more freedom to be who you really are and want to be because you now have nothing to lose.
  • Try to compensate for the loss of control of parts of your body by increasing control over your mind and emotions.
  • Be a witness to yourself. Act as an observer to your own physical, emotional, social, and spiritual states.
  • Accept your doubts about your ability to achieve any change in your emotional state. But keep trying. You might be surprised.
  • Be hopeful but not foolishly hopeful
  • If possible, find and develop a spiritual connection and practice that comforts you
  • Find what is divine, holy, or sacred for you. Attend to it, worship it, in your own way
  • Seek answers to eternal and ultimate questions about life and death, but be prepared not to find them. Enjoy the search.
  • Entertain the thought and feeling that the distance between life and death may not be as great as you think.
  • Be grateful that you have been given the time to learn how to die.
  • Include one or more friends in your spiritual search. You might find the path to spiritual connection less difficult.
  • Learn how to live, and you’ll know how to die; learn how to die, and you’ll know how to live

 

Last modified: Thursday, 4 October 2012, 2:38 PM