Get help from our network of more than 300 experts on changes big and small, personal and professional.
Julie Hryniewicz-Hache on Handling a Health Diagnosis
In 2002, Julie Hryniewicz-Hache was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. Feeling emotionally and physically burnt out from her diagnosis, a divorce and her job as a police officer, Hryniewicz-Hache found herself walking along a dark highway one night, not caring whether she was hit by a truck. That night, she found the strength to “snap out of it” and start a new life. Now Hryniewicz-Hache is the author of Natural Balance: How to Energize, Heal & Simplify Your Life, a keynote speaker, life consultant and seminar leader. In her mission as an inspirational speaker, she aims to help people live from a place of gratitude, joy, abundance, passion, purpose and peace. In this interview, Hryniewicz-Hache explains how others can learn to overcome a health diagnosis.
When people receive a health diagnosis, what concerns them the most?
That they have to take medication for the rest of their lives. I know that shocked me. Many ask, “Why did this happen to me?” “What is this disease all about?” “How do I live my normal life when I know that illness has rented lifetime space in my body?” “Am I going to die?” “What can I do to heal?”
What’s the best way for people to deal with feelings that may come up as a result of a health diagnosis?
Understanding your illness and the power of the mind and body is the first step and the best way to cope. As a police officer, the detective in me kicked in and I went on a mission to find every book and web site on the subject of my illness. Realizing that there were so many others with the same illness helped me a lot, because I knew I didn’t stand alone in my misery. Once I understood how I could start to heal my body—beginning with my mindset—my inner chaos calmed. This is what I recommend for others.
The next step is to take action. I’m a firm believer that knowledge is useless without action. It’s important to understand the mind/body connection and realize that it will help you start to mend if used appropriately. By bringing the body into natural balance and creating an environment where it can heal, you’ve taken control of your illness.
How can someone who has received a health diagnosis stay in the present and not think about the “what ifs?”
They should press “reset” today. We can’t change the past no matter how hard we try, but we can press “reset” with our emotions. See today as a new beginning for your life—a clean slate, if you will. Start building a new perspective today by realizing that this illness can be an opportunity for you to take better care of yourself and your needs, perhaps for the first time. The body is designed to heal itself and we can help it along.
The language of gratitude has been the most significant positive action for me. In any moment of stress, I ask what I’m grateful for in this moment and write what comes to mind in my journal. Being tender to yourself, nurturing your mind and listening to your soul is essential in those first 30 days.
You have a different take on what phases a person experiences after a health diagnosis. What did you experience and how can others use this knowledge to their advantage?
The five phases I experienced included existence, struggle, awakening, purpose and peace. I now call this my “Theory of Personal Development,” whether an individual is dealing with illness, relationship breakdown, financial issues, career transition or grief. Once we receive a health diagnosis or experience another life change, we move from our life of existence to struggle. Once we decide to become solution-focused instead of problem-focused, we move into awakening. We can then evolve by realizing that our purpose on this earth is to fill our days with joy. Peace comes when we feel we are on the right track toward our authentic life. We can only be of service to others and fulfill our true purpose when we’re feeling content and at peace with our direction.
What are some things people can do to get through those first 30 days?
First, decide to heal. As simple as this may sound, it actually took me a year and a half to decide to heal. I was so stuck in being the victim of my circumstances that I was wasting all of my energy on wallowing in my pain. Next, build a support system. Surround yourself with self-help books, web sites, resources, inspirational quotes, nature photos, other individuals in your shoes and caring friends or family.
The third thing I suggest is journaling. When you’re feeling negative emotions, write them down, without judgment and restrictions. When we get our feelings out on paper, they’re not able to fester in our mind and body. Additionally, write down all of the things you’re grateful for. Some individuals have a separate gratitude journal; however, I prefer to keep it simple by having one journal for all my emotions.
Lastly, boost your energy. Comparing our energy levels to a jar of marbles, how many marbles do you have in your jar on an average day? Most individuals are depleted of their energy storage, which makes it very difficult for the body to kick in its natural inclination to heal. Get outside, move your body, eat some extra fruits and vegetables, drink water, do things that you consider enjoyable, simplify your schedule and surroundings, and spend some time in silence and relaxation each day.
What can people do to continue to progress beyond the first 30 days of handling a health diagnosis?
Healing is a process of discovering yourself, your needs, your groove and your interests. It is only once your health and energy are replenished that your positive energy can overflow to others. Decide that you deserve to live your life in a healthy, balanced and purposeful way and continue to take daily action steps. I once heard the phrase that “happiness is a habit.” Keep up the momentum of your first 30 days by realizing that the habits you get into while healing will be the habits that will keep you well.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
I believe that all adversity and pain strengthens us so we can attain our life purpose. I believe that there’s a lesson in every tough experience.
The best thing about change is...
…it forces you to focus on learning more about yourself. Change breeds the opportunity for growth and enlightenment. Your beautiful life awaits!
What is the best change you have ever made?
Deciding to live that night when I was walking along the dark highway.
For more information on Julie Hryniewicz-Hache, JulieHryniewicz.com.