Sunday, 30 August 2015

Circles of Influence & ME

Click to enlarge
Part of coping with ME, I think, is about drawing circles around the things we aim to influence.

When I was well, I once attended a staff development session where we were asked to list all the things in the world we'd like to change.

Then we were then told to place each thing either:  inside our "Circle of Realistic Influence" or outside of it.  The take-away message was that we were to forgive ourselves for not tackling those things outside of our personal circles.

Now that I think back on this session, it makes me realise just how much ME sufferers must draw tight circles around their lives - often pushing more and more things outside of that circle of influence.

In fact even looking at what we can cope with on a daily or weekly basis, shows how we need to "Let Go!" of some things that, before illness, we took totally for granted.

I expanded the concept of having a single circle and did this one for me and my ME.

The innermost circle shows the things that are basic essentials for life, and in truth probably represent the sum total that the very severely affected can manage.

The next two rings are more personal, and could change over time depending on current circumstances. The "Less than Daily" circle looks a good list, but doing one thing on the list, is likely to mean that others must be abandoned.  So some items will be very infrequent. I created the graphic a few weeks ago - I might make some changes were I to re-do it today.

Finally, I thought long and hard about what to call the outer circle.  I didn't want to call it "Beyond My Ability" - even though that is really what the stuff there represents.  So I thought "Aspirations" would be much better.

I think perhaps for some-one newly ill with ME an exercise like this might help them to let go of certain things without guilt.  I remember early in my illness deciding that I had to totally let go of what happened to my garden.  I could no longer tend it myself, nor could I ask family to keep it up they way I wanted.  So I let it go.

One day perhaps I will be well enough to spread all my circles out again, so that my garden once more is tended as I would wish.


Other thoughts about coping with an energy-restricted life:

Managing Illness through Pacing;
Do you STOP soon enough? March 2015
Pacing and Unpredictable Events Sept 2014
"Play-Up & Lay-Up" not "Boom & Bust" Sept 2014
The Exercise Catch 22! Jul 2014
ME Awareness - Why NOT Exercise? May 2014
Thoughts on Travel and ME Mar 2014
The Dilemmas of Exercise and M.E.  Dec 2013


  1. Thank you for that, Sally. It's an excellent idea. Quite painful, too, having to admit what we can't do.

    1. Thank you Diz
      Tough too when you have to take some things and move them to the outer circle, when for a while they seemed to be okay to do. xx

  2. Big applause I love love love this article. Very helpful of putting things.
    I have an idea for those who cannot let go : E.F.T.
    E.F.T. changed my life for the better. So here you are, a little sample of what you could start with :

    "even if I cannot let go of those things I forgive and accept myself"
    "even if I cannot continue not letting go of those things I forgive myself anyway"
    "even if I recognize I need to let go of those things and it feels it is impossible for me I love and accept myself anyway"
    continue with *E.F.T. tapping round*

    You can tap with Hoponopono (see Brad Yates' on youtube) it is great for self-forgiveness I think.
    Try also Brad Yates' tapping round named "I can't let go"
    Good luck and have fun !

    E.F.T. is a great creative hobby and it feels so good !
    I hope you will like it !

    Gentle greetings from Celine

    1. So glad you found the circles idea helpful.

      I've heard of EFT and in this context is sounds useful. I will take another look. Thank you for sharing.

      (PS I've also heard of practitioners who promote EFT as curative for ME - and that I don't agree with. As another useful tool however, to help improve quality of life, it seems it can help. xx)

  3. This is a fantastic idea! And it is a very positive and practical approach to wellness!
    I've recently just been looking at what I aspire to, and realised how different my aspirations are now. As you say, what we took for granted once is perhaps now an aspiration. Quite bizarre really!
    I've only just come across your blog but I really like your tone as its positive and you provide some really helpful tools.
    Thank you!😊💐

    1. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a lovely comment. It makes the effort all worthwhile. :D