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Celebrate the Small Victories

The most important thing I’ve come to learn in the time since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease is to celebrate the small victories – not just alone, but with others.

It might sound silly at first, but let me explain.

Crohn’s and colitis can impact every aspect of our lives

In my experience, anyone living life with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has taken a bunch of tough hits. Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and indeterminate colitis are difficult and exhausting autoimmune diseases that can impact every facet of our lives. They often change our days, our plans, our goals, and our abilities at the drop of a dime, and we have no choice but to roll with the punches. For me, the inability to predict when I might feel well enough to do x, y or z was overwhelming and frequently left me feeling defeated.

Examples of “small” moments that could easily ruin my day?

Why me?

Each moment listed above may only take up a tiny part of my day, but it can derail my mood completely. It can make me ruminate on the “why me” feelings – i.e.: Why do I have to deal with this disease and all its complications? Why can’t I just feel good? It can make me feel bitter, resentful, disappointed and/or depressed as it starts a cycle of thoughts bound to harm my outlook & squash any optimism or positivity remaining for the rest of the day. It also impacted what I shared with friends and family, the version of myself they interacted with at any given time, and the energy I put out into the world.

Acknowledging little wins

I finally decided I was no longer interested in allowing this to happen EVERY SINGLE TIME something knocked my mood, so I began focusing on changing my perspective. Instead of being hindered by the frustrating moments, what if I stopped and forced myself to acknowledge each little win that came my way?

Examples of moments that I count as small victories:

  • Only having to wait in a short line (at the doctor/lab, when running errands, ordering food, etc)
  • Minimal traffic on my way to my destination
  • Productive doctors appointments
  • Stable labs
  • Easy medication refills
  • A day/week/month without an IBD emergency
  • A day/week/month without an ER visit or hospital admission

Some of these examples might sound trivial, but if I paused to acknowledge that they were in fact positive, and better than their alternatives, something in me changed.

Keeping positive when Crohn’s is taking a lot away from me

When I allowed myself to focus on these moments, even if they were smack dab in the middle of a bad day or a series of terrible small moments, I was staying more positive. I was kinder (to myself and others)! I felt slightly more in control of my life, even when my Crohn’s disease was a disaster. It felt like a choice I was making, something I got to choose, even when IBD took away a lot of my other options.

When I allowed myself to celebrate the small victories with others, whether that be my husband or a good friend or a small group of people, the joy I got expanded. Their acknowledgment of the tiny triumph made me feel seen and made my hard work (mental, physical, emotional) of getting through the hard times feel incredibly validated. It also let others see me in a different light – one that was grateful instead of frustrated, relieved instead of concerned. It brought back a little more fun in my life and made the harder moments a little more bearable.

If you’ve looked at shifting your perspective, and/or celebrating the small wins, I’d love to hear how your days and your mood has changed in stride and if the transition was difficult to make!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    Great article. Celebrating little wins is so crucial when dealing with IBD. Throughout the day, I try to constantly remind myself to celebrate the positives and what is working. IBD is very mental, and learning to use this as a tool is extremely helpful in getting through the bad days.

    I hope you are doing well!

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks Elizabeth! I couldn’t agree more!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

  • hennesseygurl
    2 months ago

    Love your article. Thanks again for sharing. Still unable to get help for a biologic, which is so frustrating. That’s been my time spent. But I do know something has to come through. Thanks again for sharing.

  • Pam.Kingsland moderator
    2 months ago

    Hi @hennesseygurl, Thanks so much for providing feedback on this article. I just wanted to attach the author here, so she can see your comment- @amandao. I’m thinking of you and hoping you find some assistance with a biologic soon. Please come and reach out anytime <3 We're all here for you! - Pam (Team member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks @pam.kingsland

    @hennesseygurl – I’m so sorry you’re still struggling to get assistance with a biologic. You’re in my thoughts!

    Warmly,
    Amanda

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    2 months ago

    I LOVE this!! I celebrate “little wins” on a daily basis, as it is so easy to get bogged down on what is going wrong, we should be grateful for what is going right. And, I think it is the best/only way to live with a chronic illness and not go completely insane from setbacks. Thank you for writing this..

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • Amanda Osowski moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hi Julie,
    I love your comment! I agree – the negatives are too easy to get sucked into. Happy to share something that has helped me!

    Warmly,
    Amanda (team member)

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