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Consistency: A Key to Pacing Success
Bruce Campbell

In my mind, consistency is both a major challenge and the key to success in pacing. Of the strategies I investigated, I found six especially useful and crucial to my recovery.


1) Record Keeping

This was probably the foundation of successful pacing for me. I used records of my activities and symptoms to define my limits. Once I understood my limits, my records were a source of motivation, showing me how much better my life ran when I stayed within my limits. 

I spent some time reducing the things that made my symptoms worse, but my main motivator was the positive idea of increasing the things that gave me control.

2) Adjusting Expectations

Although it was a gradual process, probably taking two years or so, I gradually changed my understanding of what was reasonable for me. Instead of comparing myself to healthy people or what I could do before becoming ill, I slowly developed a new way to look at myself based on what my body could actually do, not what I wanted it to do. 

I think that acceptance of limits is related to working through loss. For me, the belief that I could have a good life whatever my limits was crucial to accepting my losses.

3) Routine

I agree with Dean Anderson, whose recovery story is included in the Success Stories on this site. What helped me was to learn to live my life in a new and different way. 

I thought of myself as replacing one set of habits and routines with a new set, a big challenge but one that got easier over time as more and more of my habits supported my recovery.

4) Visualizing Consequences (Stop & Choose)

To avoid overdoing when I was tempted to go outside my envelope, I often thought of how I would feel later on. I tried to be as detailed and graphic as I could be: sensing the 'run over by a truck' feeling in my body and imagining myself lying in bed in a dark room for a day, etc.

5) Personal Rules

Because I was often bothered by brain fog, which could make me very confused, I developed rules for myself. I wrote the three most important general principles on a 3x5 card that I could refer to in moments of confusion. (One of my rules was to make changes gradually, so I guess I used at least seven of the consistency strategies.) 

I also developed very specific rules I could remind myself of daily, like "take a 15 minute rest at 11 am and 3:30 pm."

6) Forgivness

Over time, I came to see that beating myself up for my failures to pace was very expensive. It made me feel bad and it did nothing to improve things. 

I learned more friendly self-talk, focusing on the asking myself "what can I learn from this?" and "what should I do now?"

Over time, I found that consistency built on itself. Consistency led to a lower level of symptoms declined and also to greater stability. Those payoffs motivated me to be even more consistent.