I was brought up to think, like most people, that illness is something that happens when our body goes wrong and needs fixing. ItÂ?s rather like when our car breaks down. We take it to the garage to get fixed. The mechanic looks at the problem, and from his experience, he assesses what work needs doing. It may need a full service to bring it back to life or perhaps a new battery or part. Maybe even a brand new engine. Worse still, he tells us the car is only fit for the scrap yard!
In many ways, we treat our body in the same way. When it goes wrong and we go to the doctor to hear his diagnosis of our symptoms, we are in much the same position as we are with a mechanic. Unless we know whatÂ?s going on under the bonnet of our car, we are totally in the mechanicÂ?s hands, having to trust in their experience to put the car right. When we are ill, we are taught to rely on experts to put us right. We may think the doctor is the only person who can help us. We expect to be offered a solution - a prescription for drugs, an appointment with a specialist or perhaps an operation that will put us right again. Just like the car we want to have back on the road again, we want to receive the right treatment so we can get on with our life.
Does it really make sense to treat our body in the same way as a car? Are we just a collection of parts that exist in isolation? Should we expect our body to experience the same wear and tear from daily living as our car does from regular usage? Should we always rely on a doctor or specialist to accurately diagnose whatÂ?s wrong with us in the limited time they have available?
A living masterpiece
Of course, the mechanical parts of a car cannot compare to the sensitive, intricate components of a human body. We have only to observe when we cut our finger, how the body can heal itself. Within a short time, the skin magically knits together and the cut disappears. Incur a scratch on your car and does it disappear? Unfortunately not! The body is a living masterpiece with millions of living parts all working together to allow us to physically exist every moment of our life. Our body is constantly changing, renewing itself every second of every day.
Unlike a car, we have an amazing control centre, our mind, that monitors every part of our body telling us when something doesnÂ?t feel right. Every sense, every feeling gets sent back to control and it is constantly feeding us messages about whatÂ?s going on. It may be like a gentle tap on the shoulder when our back starts hurting after we have been gardening too long. It may be a stronger nudge when we experience nausea and abdominal pain and have to go and lie down. When we feel stabbing pains in our chest and are struggling to breathe, it means alarm bells are ringing.
Making a difference to your health
So what is our body telling us and can we do anything about it? I believe we can and the moment we decide that we can, almost anything can happen. In the past, we have relied heavily on other peopleÂ?s opinions and handed over full responsibility for our health and well-being to them. Thankfully now in the twenty first century, there is evidence to show that, with a little common sense and self-awareness, we can make a big difference to our health. When we take an interest in our own well-being, we are taking a step towards a fuller, happier life.
Once you ask yourself the question, Â?What are my symptoms telling me?Â?, you have begun the process of understanding that the body is not Â?wrongÂ? but simply offering clues to help you understand that something you are doing to yourself is not good for you. It may be something to do with the way you are eating. It may be due to the way you are thinking. It may be way you are living your life that is causing disharmony within the body.
We each have an inner wisdom that reflects the real and authentic part of us which can get lost underneath the Â?personalityÂ? that we each take on and that we show to the world. From an early age, we are taught the Â?rightÂ? way to behave, what we should think, what we should eat, what we should wear, how hard we should work, what our life should be like. The rules we live by, learned mostly from our family, teachers and, more often these days, the media, become our habitual ways of acting. Our perceptions, (how we see the world), and our emotions, (how we respond to the world), are all just like programmes which we learn to run in order to exist. We choose what behaviours are acceptable, what is most rewarded with love, care and attention and tend to carry on in the same way throughout our life, often being triggered by situations that remind us of an incident that happened when we were four years old! Our behaviour becomes so automatic that we believe that is who we are. But, who we are in the core of our being is much more than this.
Being true to your deepest self
The more we try to fit in with the outside world, the more we ignore the wisdom of our true self who knows more than anyone else what is right for us. Our real self is calling for our attention in everything we do, think or say. It wants us to recognise and discover the real truth about ourselves. Our inner voice is guiding us to be true to our deepest self, helping us respond to what we truly need to be happy and fulfilled in our life.
When we choose not to be true to ourselves and our own inner wisdom, we create tension and disharmony in our bodies and impose limitations on ourselves and our life. It takes a lot of effort to keep up appearances and to maintain the pretence of living in a way that isnÂ?t natural for us. We can create many barriers around ourselves to keep ourselves Â?safeÂ? and within these barriers are feelings we have suppressed.
Imagine a man who works at a job that gives him no joy. Maybe parental pressure from an early age meant that he followed in his fatherÂ?s footsteps to become a lawyer. He has a passion for flying and longs to do something else with his life but feels powerless to change the situation. He doesnÂ?t know how to express his true feelings to his family and anyway, he believes it is his duty to support them. Having being brought up with a hard work ethic, he strives for perfection and success and works all hours to achieve it, never feeling he has done enough. Constantly responding to other peopleÂ?s demands both at home and at work, his energy drops, he becomes frustrated and irritated with his colleagues, feels guilty for not spending time with his family and finds it hard to relax. Forever on the run, his eating habits are far from healthy and to unwind from the stresses of the day, he drinks excessively each evening. His wife complains that he is never at home and their relationship becomes increasingly strained. Even though he has everything he once thought he wanted from life, there is little about his current situation that gives him pleasure. He has lost touch with any sense of what he truly wants.
Alarm bells sounding
Would you be surprised if you heard that this man became ill? Imagine the stress on his body as he refuses to listen to his inner call for change. He buries his feelings, his anxiety and frustration until the physical effects start to show, maybe putting on extra weight at first, maybe a recurring headache (the tap on the shoulder). When he starts to experience pains in his stomach (the gentle nudge), he visits the doctor for treatment so he can get back to work as soon as possible. It isnÂ?t until the alarm bell sounds in the form of a heart attack (possibly at the same age as his father) when he is forced to take time to rest and think.
Whilst too much eating and drinking, too little sleep, too much continuous stress, too little physical activity have become common factors of twenty first century living, many of us are still reluctant to change our lifestyle. Many people today are living their life in a constant state of emotional tension feeling pressure from all sides. It is hard to let go of our attachment to what we believe is Â?normalÂ? behaviour expected of us. With no time to relax and appreciate the good things in life and facing an atmosphere of intense competition and isolation in the workplace, it is easy to see why recent surveys in the UK reveal that 70% of people feel tired all the time and chronic fatigue, obesity, IBS, heart disease and cancer are more common than ever before.
Our wake-up call
Our outdated attitudes towards ourselves based on comments we heard as children, suppressed emotions and holding onto past traumas are all factors in our health. Carrying around old patterns make it hard for us to let go and move forward. Illness often comes as a wake-up call to force us to look more closely at what we are doing. Our bodies can reveal much more to us than we realise about how we are living Â? if only we take the time to listen. Instead of rushing to the doctor for more pills when illness strikes, we need to track the symptoms back to their source. Instead of trying to Â?fixÂ? the body, as we would a car, we need to understand why we got ill, seeing it as a positive way forward rather than a hindrance, learning something from its message before moving on. We need to track the development of the illness in the context of our life situation, our attitudes, beliefs and family history to see the full picture. We need to look at what was happening in our life when the illness started, search for clues and discover the truth. Only by being totally honest with ourselves, facing up to what we may have been hiding for years, can we truly begin the Â?solveÂ? our illness and get well.
What are the signals in your own life that show you are living in balance/out of balance? What do you think your inner wisdom is telling you about your health? What is your deepest self calling out to you? What do you think your body is telling you? Are you aware of a gentle tap on the shoulder or a stronger nudge? Are the alarm bells ringing?
If you have an illness, when did you first get ill? What was happening in your life prior to your illness? If you knew there was an important message in the illness, what do you think your symptoms are telling you?
About the author:Rhona is an accredited Personal Coach with an International Diploma in Professional Coaching. Her interest in health awareness goes back more than twenty five years when she decided to alter her diet, her lifestyle and outlook to improve the quality of her life. Now she helps others make changes that are important to them. Call her for a chat on 01286 676838
To subscribe, simply enter your email address below: