Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about dis-ease, energy fields, and the increasingly prevalent feeling that illness is your ‘fault’.
It's a subject that has come up on more than a few occasions in client sessions and never fails to make me think... and then often get angry.
Because that conversation tends to bring the work of theorists like Louise Hay to mind, who believed in the power of affirmation and positive thinking to change not only our emotional and energetic wellbeing, but our physical health too.
And then there’s Dr. Gabor Maté and others like him, with their insights on trauma and how it can affect our overall wellbeing.
Their works are fascinating, and definitely have some useful and valid points to share which have benefitted so many people.
But there’s another side of the coin: social media.
Taking a simplified view of illness and wellness from somewhere like Instagram is so damaging.
Something I struggle with a lot is when clients - and friends - tell me it's their fault they:
- Have a chronic illness;
- Feel the way they do; or
- Can't move past or through a certain ‘thing’.
It’s got me thinking about the need to balance personal responsibility and empowerment with a recognition of the greater context, of the deeper connections that we in the West are often told to overlook.
Looking at illness
There are a couple of ways of thinking about illness.
Some people see their health and well-being as rooted in some secret, mystic art.
If they have a problem, they see a highly educated and well-qualified physician who makes a diagnosis and prescribes medicine that may well cost a lot of money and have some gnarly side effects.
But it makes them better. And that's the most important thing right?
They don't have to understand the how and the why; they get better and that's all that matters.
Then there’s a theory that illness isn’t disease but dis-ease – an upset in your energy field.
It’s the idea that our problems start emotionally, and our traumas and pains are held in our bodies and energy fields.
If we don’t confront those things and take ownership of them, we suffer the consequences – anything from feeling a bit run down and tired to terminal illness and death.
There’s power in that too – to an extent.
Indeed, the work of groundbreaking people has led us to a place where we have power over our well-being, can develop a deeper connection with and understanding of our bodies, and are able to personally take charge of our own wellness in ways so many people might not otherwise we able to.
But what if we're taking that too far?
In the last month alone, three clients have broken down on calls and told me they know ‘it’s’ their fault.
They believe there's something wrong with their energy field.
They think they should be able to get their s**t together.
The fact they can't fix things is a personal failing.
And what do each of those things - and the myriad of other thoughts that these clients and others I've met and heard from have shared - have in common?
They don't help with our wellbeing at all. In fact, if anything, they make us feel a damn sight worse and a load less empowered about our own well-being!
Am I saying this talk of dis-ease is entirely wrong? Hell no! But I am saying that, by and large, public discourse on the subject is missing a pretty important factor.
The missing piece when we talk of dis-ease
The energy we’re stewing in isn’t just ours.
I believe we’re immortal souls incarnated time and time again, during all manner of lifetimes - some have which have involved some deep and painful suffering.
Even in this lifetime, in these bodies, we’re descendants of ancestors who have been through trauma and struggle - sometimes generations of it.
Through the study of epigenetics, science tells us trauma sits in our bodies. That's right, we carry that trauma within our very bodies.
And let's look at the great big interspecies ecosystem that we live in here on Earth.
At the water we drink which has been recycled through centuries and centuries; the air we breathe that has passed through however many plants, creatures and spaces before it reached our bodies; and the plants - and potentially animals - we are putting into our body each of which have had their own experiences and their own experiences with external pollutants of all kinds.
That's without even mentioning the news that we're reading, conversations that we're overhearing and inadvertantly taking onboard, and so much more.
We’re effectively sitting in a stew of collective trauma.
And though we can all work on our own ‘stuff’ till the cows come home, it doesn't change the fact that so many other forces are at play.
Meanwhile, sometimes things happen that we don't have a great deal of control over and though yes, we can often control our response to those things - certainly in the long run, sometimes even that is difficult for all manner of reasons.
So, the next time you tell yourself to power through and be stronger, remember that true power over your well-being is about honouring your illness as much as taking ownership of your wellness is as much about.
What does that mean?
Sometimes, it means allowing yourself to rest when you need to and recognising that an energetic imbalance within you doesn’t mean you’ve failed at trying to be a ‘well’ human.
I'd argue it means just the opposite; that you're recognising that imbalance and connecting deeply enough to hear your body and energy system when they tell you they need to take a step back.
Other times, it means seeking support from all of the sources available to us; the Earth, our spirit guides and our meditation mats just as much as our therapists, chiropractors and doctors.
And during others still, it means remembering that that happen for a myriad of reasons; some of which are really unfair - some of which suck.
But that doesn't mean that they're your fault.
I’m absolutely tired of people believing that illness and unwellness are their fault and tired of what should have been a pathway to empowerment and liberation becoming something that takes so many into a place of shame, of guilt and of deeper burden.
We need to bring ourselves back to a point of balance.
We’re part of an interconnected web of events, energy and emotions that’s so much greater and broader than we could ever imagine.
We need to remember that our bodies, hearts and minds are so clever; if they give us a warning sign, we should listen.
Don’t feel guilty about it.
Don’t fight it.
Don’t listen to Joe Bloggs on the Internet
Remember: as powerful as you are, you can't do everything, and nor were you ever meant to.