Day-to-day with endometriosis: Challenge your expectations

When endometriosis pain gets the better of you, try adjusting your expectations for yourself. Learn to let go of the idea of perfection.

Some people are perfectionists by nature, constantly striving for excellence. That can be a hard trait to overcome. But compulsive perfectionism isn't the lifestyle for someone dealing with endometriosis pain. It's not easy to live up to a perfectionist's expectations, and trying to do so can be emotionally and physically damaging.

As long as you compare yourself with how you used to be, you'll feel miserable about your performance. Your work won't be good enough, and your leisure time won't be enjoyable enough.

There's a way, though, to keep an upbeat outlook, and that's to work on adjusting your expectations for yourself.

Adjusting your expectations

People who don't adapt to new challenges may be more likely to become discouraged and depressed. But if you're flexible enough to adjust your expectations, you can learn to keep a positive attitude about life.

To work on adjusting your expectations, start by trying these tactics:

  • Don't aim for perfection. You'll only set yourself up for disappointment if you fall short of your ideal.
  • Go easy on yourself. Instead of getting upset that you can't do everything you're used to doing, take pride in small successes. Maybe you didn't tackle a new project at work, but you were able to go to work and accomplish your regular duties. Maybe your house doesn't look perfect, but the dishes are clean and the laundry is folded.
  • Set limits. Listen to your body and take cues from how you're feeling. It's OK to let some things go on days when you don't feel quite up to it.
  • Reframe your thinking. Shift your focus away from performance and appearance — one of the pitfalls of being a perfectionist — and work on finding inner peace and being patient with yourself.

Planning for bad days

Bad days with endometriosis pain will happen, but you can get through it. One of the best ways to minimize the disruptiveness of a tough day and quickly get back to your usual activities is to plan for it. The best time to plan is when you're having a good day — not a bad one.

Here's how to plan ahead for a difficult day:

  • Know your warning signs. Do you get a warning sign that a bad day is beginning, such as excessive fatigue or feeling the blues?
  • Identify sources of your difficult days. Knowing the most common reasons for difficult days can help you better prepare for them. Could your bad days result from too much stress, overdoing it on the weekends, traveling for work, or getting a visit from a particular friend or relative?
  • Develop a game plan. When you know a difficult day is coming or you get a warning sign, you may be able to lessen the negative effects by structuring the day with activities and diversions. For instance, try to maintain a normal schedule, but make time for something enjoyable, such as a good book, a funny movie or a chat with a friend who has a good sense of humor.

When you have a tough day, say to yourself, "This will pass." It will.

Jan. 30, 2020 See more In-depth