Hello dear friends!
There are so many “how-to” articles and blogs out there on health and wellness that it can be a bit overwhelming at times. Most of them are the same, and some are even contradictory (how confusing is that?). But here’s the thing: I’m not really a “how-to” kind of girl. I don’t think that focusing our energies on striving and straining and attempting to create something out of thin air is going to help us any. My personal philosophy is that what we want is already there.
Remember the blue sky metaphor? If not, it might help to revisit that before you continue reading this post. Don’t worry. I’ll wait.
Just like the blue sky of happiness and contentment is always there above us, no matter what clouds or storms are brewing- I believe that our health is always there too. Our bodies are naturally programmed for optimum health and when supported correctly, our physiology will move in the direction of wellness and balance. What a nice picture, right?
But 99.9% of us have lots of stuff blocking the way- that seems to just be the price of being human. And while you can’t always prevent new roadblocks from happening, by keeping on the lookout, acknowledging they are there, and actively working to remove them is the key to success. In any aspect of your life, by the way- this doesn’t just apply to physical health.
And no, it isn’t easy. Taking your vitamins every day is easy. Going to bed early is easy. Eating your veggies is easy. Deliberately and actively seeing and dissolving your own personal black clouds is hard. You may be wondering what on earth is so hard about seeing? Oh, but that’s the hardest part of all! Most people don’t even notice or acknowledge what is standing between them and their health/happiness/freedom. But once your eyes are open and you can take stock of your roadblocks, you can begin dismantling them.
Whether you’re dealing with a chronic health condition or something else, here are my top 7 big black clouds to keep an eye out for!
Ooh, I know this is a touchy subject for a lot of people, and rightfully so. It cuts straight down into our hearts and addresses things like self-worth, self-image, and the messages we digest from our environments. I know that most people with CFS, cancer, MS, and other debilitating illnesses carry around a few suitcases full of blame. We blame ourselves for pushing too hard, for not seeing the warning signs, for drinking all that soda, for staying up too late. And a special subset of us carries an extra bag of blame (and if you’ve spent any depth of time in the alternative healing realm, you will probably relate) for our unresolved conflicts, our past traumas, our childhoods, or even when/where we were born. I know I’ve spent countless hours examining my past actions, trying to see where I went wrong, only to realize that it just made me feel worse than before.
But no matter what your internal gremlins say, you are not to blame for your illness. Sometimes people just get sick. And that’s okay. Don’t shoulder the responsibility of something that is pure chance, or whose factors we cannot even begin to understand yet.
2. Not respecting your limits
I know this one’s no fun at all- we all want to do everything we could do before we got sick. It’s something I still struggle with from time to time. But ignoring your body’s cries for rest or sleep or nourishment is a surefire way to disappointment and pain. Every time you push yourself past your capabilities, it sends stress signals to your body and makes the healing process take longer. And if you continue to do so over a long period of time, you may find yourself in an extra special hell that will take months or years to drag yourself out of.
Yes, it may really absolutely suck to say no to that hiking trip or night out at the bar right now, but try to keep your end goal in mind. Learn to listen to your body and respect yourself enough to work within your current limitations, and you’ll find that the healing will come sooner.
If you refuse to make yourself a priority and stand up for what you need, then chances are you won’t be getting better with any quickness. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish! Many people (sick or healthy) have a hard time taking care of themselves without feeling guilty, and that guilt can be downright paralyzing for some. Especially for those with a history of abuse, a serious lack of self-worth, and unhealthy communication styles, standing up and saying “this is what I need right now to feel better and I am not going to apologize for it” can be extremely difficult.
Do you have voices in your head giving you messages that you’re not good enough? That you’re letting everyone down? That you’re being selfish? I think everyone does to some degree, but remember:
4. Ignoring your intuition
Our natural intuition can be an incredible force of direction, but only when we listen to it. This takes a certain level of connectedness and awareness of our bodies and our environments, and some may find that they’ve been ignoring that little voice for so long that it will take lots of training in order to hear it again. But it’s there! It’s always there, but sometimes gets drowned out by the shouting and pushing of all the voices saying, “no, go this way!”
If you’ve ever endured a medical procedure that you know you didn’t need (because you were too afraid to contradict your doctor) or let someone else’s experiences dictate the decisions you made, you may be ignoring your intuition. I can’t tell you how many times I bought something, ate something, said something, or did something that wasn’t in line with my values simply because I was swayed by an outside force. Your intuition is there to protect you, so start listening up!
5. Unsupportive people
There are some people in our lives that just simply cannot handle a major life change like illness, and a subset of those people are so uncomfortable that they start shifting their discomfort onto you. What our friends and loved ones think and feel about us is a powerful thing, whether we like to admit it or not, and we cannot heal when that field is filled with bad energy. It’s really hard to let go of people who don’t support you or lift you up- after all it’s not in our nature to break social bonds and risk conflict. But it really is worth it in the end.
Some examples of these people might be:
- an arrogant and close-minded physician
- a healer that tries to twist your words to confirm their bias
- a childhood friend that doesn’t “believe” in your diagnosis
- a therapist that constantly pushes you into exhaustion
- a spouse that doesn’t do their fair share of housework/childcare
- a coach that is adamant that their way is the only way to health
Start identifying the unsupportive people in your life and reaching out to them about your concerns, firmly and with kindness.
6. A refusal to be vulnerable
Healing is tough work and to heal holistically (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) requires a certain openness of spirit. Having a heart that is closed off and defensive is sadly not going to get you far- we must be able to be open and vulnerable in order to truly experience whole health. The first place that this must happen is with yourself and that may sound counterintuitive to some- having the raw open courage to view yourself exactly how you are and where you are is an important first step in defining your needs, expectations, and boundaries.
Another place to cultivate vulnerability is with our spouses or caregivers- unabashed pain and fear should be able to be shared with at least one close person in your life. We all need that one safe place to fall back on when things are really tough. Other people to include in your openhearted circle might be: counselors, therapists, people in your support group, and the various healers who you connect with.
7. Not taking it seriously
There are plenty of medical issues that can be “blown off” or ignored completely, even some versions of CFS. Slow-burning diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and others that don’t present with serious symptoms right off the bat can be dangerously disregarded. Millions of people are living with some kind of illness, and a large majority of them aren’t doing much about it- just continuing to live their lives and so what if they have to take 3 different medications now?
I suppose in some ways, this should be at the top of the list (even though these are in no particular order)- because the refusal to address or prioritize your health challenges leaves you stranded at square one. You’re not going to give a rat’s behind about tackling your guilt and blame when you don’t even see the benefits of doing so. There are several people that I know with CFS who just keep pushing through like nothing has changed, and I ache deeply for them because I can see the brick wall that they’re careening towards. Half-assing your attempts to get better, or flat-out denying your symptoms are not long-term solutions here.
To accept that you have a chronic illness is not weakness, nor is it indicative of failure, of passivity, or of giving up. In fact, it is an ultimate act of courage to say, "my life is different now but no less worthy of living."
What about you? Can you identify your own roadblocks clogging up your healing highway?
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~