Consider this question…”How can [what is here] assist me?” How can our health challenges assist us? What are they telling us? What can we learn from them?
Have you ever considered that our symptoms are not just telling us something is imbalanced in our body but that they may be signals of a deeper issue that unlocks the key to lifelong optimal health?
I’ve begun to explore this question because of a recent autoimmune flare. Since the holidays I’ve experienced extreme fatigue, a further failing thyroid, unstable blood sugar numbers, achy muscles, hair loss and feelings of anger, frustration and betrayal. Betrayal that for all of the good I do to manage Type 1 diabetes and Hypothyroidism that my body repays me this way. I can literally feel my vitality slip through my fingertips. It’s discouraging to say the least.
What I’ve learned through trying to manage this process and failing at it is, that it’s not just about diet and exercise. There’s a missing piece to my health plan (and possibly yours too)!
The answer to finding optimal health lies in the past!
Yes, that’s right. In the past.
Looking Back to Move Forward
Autoimmune disease is progressive. If you are unable to identify the trigger or root cause of the immune system attack, your condition will continue to get worse and may even lead to developing additional autoimmune conditions. There are many factors that impact autoimmunity such as:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Food allergies and sensitivities (The most common triggers for thyroid disease are gluten, dairy, sugar, and soy)
- Inability to manage stress
- Infections (Bacterial, viral, candida, etc.)
- Inappropriate intestinal permeability (Leaky gut)
- Toxins from diet, environment, personal care products, and dental amalgams
In my case, I believe a few things are at play however I feel one of the primary causes of this autoimmune flare is due to a lifelong inability to manage stress (chronic, prolonged stress).
What I’m learning is, unresolved emotions from our past can show up as health issues. We can mask them with pills, creams, diet, and exercise, whatever…but until we look deeper those symptoms will continue to surface. Unresolved trauma from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) – such as parents separating or divorce, physical, sexual or emotional abuse, physical and emotional neglect, domestic violence, mental illness in the family, substance abuse and incarceration by a related family member – leads to a state of chronic stress and inflammation and biologically lowers the threshold needed for a stress response. The brain is hardwired to respond to stress more easily. Over time, this perpetuates illness and leads to beliefs that sabotage our ability to recover.
Let’s take my story: my mother committed suicide when I was 14. What I decided about this hard thing in my life was that I was not worthy of love; that there must be something wrong with me if she couldn’t stay around. It’s that story that stays with us and is the lens in which we see and experience the world. These ACEs can lead to destructive health patterns, which lead to a lack of healthy self-care including workaholism, perfectionism, over-achievement, over-giving, discounting personal needs, eating disorders, etc.
“The traumatized part of the psyche becomes “disassociated” from us; it becomes unconscious. We can lose touch with the emotions related to it completely. However, there are still parts of us that are angry all the time, crying all the time, fearful all the time, and so on, from the trauma. These parts of us can have unconscious beliefs associated with them that may include feeling unworthy of health and wellbeing, feeling ashamed, and like we deserve to be punished with ill-health. We may have a conscious belief that we can be well and recover from an illness but this can be sabotaged by our unconscious belief systems linked to the trauma.” – Niki Gratix
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a perfectionist. I’ve grown up with this overwhelming need to be perfect; to be perfect in my job; to have the perfect house; the perfect kids; the perfect diet; the perfect workout schedule. It wasn’t until recently that I connected the dots. I was obsessed with being perfect so that I would be worthy of love and those most important to me would stick around. That’s a lot of stress and burden for a long time!
When you start to unpack this it becomes easy to see how our experiences lead to beliefs, which lead to behaviors, which impact our health.
The path to optimal health is a well-rounded approach that incorporates real food and movement but begins with having the vulnerability to look at what we decided about the hard things in our life.
The correlation of autoimmunity onset in adulthood for women and ACEs is as strongly linked as smoking and lung cancer. Stress management is a must!
Knowing this, I have begun to prioritize stress management with things such as meditation and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is a type of Meridian Tapping that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping is proven to help people overcome many issues, from pain relief, to healing childhood trauma, to clearing limiting beliefs about finances, weight loss, body image and food cravings, to managing everyday stressors.
What I’ve started to discover is that when I surrender to the reality of a particular situation (like this autoimmune flare) – when I don’t continue to resist, but accept – a softening in my soul occurs. It’s as if the steam of struggle has been allowed to escape from life’s pressure cooker.
“We need to use all of the things (the bright, shiny parts and the most broken parts) to help build and gain wisdom in our soul.” And by doing so gaining control of our health. – Jessica Flanigan
What happens when we accept our symptoms? Well, first of all, we relax. Next we change our vibration, our energy pattern, and the rate of our heartbeat. Our body calms. Acceptance illuminates reality so that we’re better able to see the next step.
Today, look inside and ask yourself “How can [what is here] assist me?” We have the opportunity to take control of our health and improve it for the rest of our life. Value your body’s wisdom now! Befriend your body. It’s looking for support.
How? Start with becoming more present in your body. It’s as simple as ABC!
- A: Aware; be aware of what’s going on with you and around you. (“This is how much I weigh.” “This is how often I can work out.” “This is my kitchen with the dirty floor.”) And how you are feeling; where there is tightness; where there is pain.
- B: Breath; breath into it and appreciate how intense it is.
- C: Communicate a new message to your body – “Body, you’re doing okay.” “Even though I have all this stress and I feel overwhelmed, I love and accept myself fully.” “I have everything I need right here. I choose to allow and be open to the possibilities that let me live more fully now.”
Within each of us lies a wellspring of health.
Let go of the struggle.
Allow the healing process of acceptance to begin to transform your health.