By Julia Gumm
One of the first things people ask when learning about the mind-body connection is, what in the world can one do to change their thoughts? Especially subconscious ones?
It’s a good question, and there are a few ways to address that, but one thing you must first get out of the way is whether or not you might actually rather be chronically unwell.
Lately, I’ve been devouring the work of Caroline Myss. Myss is a ?medical intuitive? which means she can sort of glance you over, see where in your body you’re ?leaking energy?, and based on that, predict and diagnose illness. Whoa, trippy stuff, I know. But the lady has a 93% accuracy rate, so I have more faith in her than say, Latoya Jackson and her Psychic Friends Network.
Whether or not Myss can do what she’s famed for doing is up to you to decide. But through her work, she’s discovered something interesting. ?
Myss originally proceeded from the notion that all people want to be well. Who wants to be sick? But a few years into her practice, she came to understand something curious. Some people don’t deeply want to heal. Oh sure, on a superficial level they are seeking relief from pain, but they aren’t ready to be ?well? because being well means a whole different interaction with the world. Well people can take care of themselves. Sick people can be taken care of. Well people are responsible for their actions. Sick people, well, they’re sick. You can’t blame them.
See, Myss believes that energetic weakness or strength is what, generally, is responsible for our health or illness. If someone is ?losing power? to a bad energetic investment, something like brooding on the past, an occupation that drains them, or a manipulative relationship, these energy losses present in the body, and according to Myss, affect their corresponding energy center or ?chakra.
Someone with a difficult childhood might have trouble with their first chakra, for example, the ?root? chakra. The first chakra rules the base of the spine, legs, immune system, bones, rectum and adrenal glands. If we don’t feel grounded, able to support ourselves, able to trust in our ‘tribe? or our family, we can develop issues like low back pain, osteo-arthritis, constipation, hemorrhoids, anxiety and frequent infections.
The good news is, these feelings can be processed, dealt with, accepted for what they are, and let go of. And the people who made your childhood such a hell, they can be forgiven. You can even forgive yourself. Everyone can move on. That’s not saying injustices are just. It’s saying that you’re ready to free up your energy to put towards good things, healthy things, positive things that benefit you.
The bad news is, that’s easier said than done.
In fact, would you believe it, not everyone wants to give up their issues. Not everyone is so willing to forgive those who have hurt them. Not everyone is so anxious to give up their role as a victim in their story, because it gives them a special kind of power. It gives them the power to be the result of causes not their own doing, an unwitting victim of a cruel, cruel fate. If their lives aren’t going particularly well, hey, you can’t judge ?em. You know that rotten childhood they had…
Myss coined the term ?woundology. Woundology refers to the practice of defining oneself by their perceived wounds. ?Hi I’m Julia. My mom died when I was a kid, my family neglected me and frankly, the ripples from those waves inform every single thing I do. Now, I may not say that right off the bat when introducing myself, but sooner or later, it might well be implied. There is something seductive about this. Wearing your wounds like a badge commands respect and sympathy from others. You can manipulate people this way. It’s a get out of jail free card that can be pulled whenever you’re on bad behavior. It’s a way to feel better without having to be better.
?Oh, I’m sorry I screamed at you this morning, but you know it’s my mother’s birthday and she’s dead and she’s been dead for eighteen years, which would make me only ten when she died, and boy howdy, you haven’t known death till you know it from the perspective of a ten year old losing their mother.Talk about abandonment! Was there something else I could do for you? No? Thank you, yes, I’m sorry too. Losing mom was so hard.
See? Bada Bing Bada Boom. I’m a victim and I deserve to be, woe is me. Now that isn’t to say that we can’t feel emotional about events in our lives. My mom really is dead and that really is crappy. But every time I expect to be let off the hook for some kind of behavior, consciously or not- whether to others or to myself- because of my eternal sense of abandonment, I am letting my wounds define me. And it’s easier that way, isn’t it? Being hurt, you know, hurts. But it’s the getting up that’s the real work.
The energetic patterns that result from clinging onto a wound can have physical consequences that are even recognized in allopathic medicine. At one point, I developed terrible intestinal trouble, of which there was no detectable cause. My doctor, who had treated me since I was a baby, told me that I probably had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He conceded that there is no real known cause besides stress, and particularly, he noted, the kind of stress that comes from having an unstable childhood- like mine. His medical advice was to let go of that pain as much as I could.
To some folks, that might be insulting. We want pills, we want a defined prognosis, we want to know that this is not our responsibility. It is true that often, illness has nothing to do with your personal attitudes. Cancer genes like to flip on all willy nilly, nasty viruses love to hang out on door knobs, horrible chemicals are seeping into our waterways and spinal discs can slip, of course.
It’s useful though, to ask yourself, if you are perhaps consciously holding yourself back and hiding behind a personal wound so you can stay there. Staying down is easier than standing up, no matter how miserable you are on the floor. And the kicker is, if we’re too scared to get up, we have to keep inventing new wounds, or dig deeper to understand why our original wounds were even worse than we had thought! I mean, hey, pulling the my childhood sucked? card will work for awhile, but sooner or later, you gotta do one better. Maybe that’s when you stay in old patterns that your childhood imprinted on you. Maybe pick a partner who treats you just as badly as your dad did. Maybe you choose the same friends over and over, you know, the ones who stab you in the back. Maybe you’re doing it to remain a victim. Maybe you’re sabotaging your own strength.
When you are strong, you are fully responsible for yourself and your life. There are no excuses. Are you ready for that?
Evaluate your energetic investments. When you wake up, what do you think of? When you look in the mirror, what do you tell yourself? When you reflect on the past, how long do you stay there? Just like how holding onto junk clutters your house, holding onto mental junk clutters your soul, and thus, your health. If you’re directing your thoughts and feelings into old resentments, self-hatred, a job you despise, a war on your body- you’re bound to turn up energetically short when trying to fully live in the present.
We can’t be witness to spontaneity and vitality when our hearts and minds are mired in some past wound.
We can’t put our true strength into the challenges of today when we’re wrestling with how pained we are over our reflection in the mirror this morning.
We cannot do the right thing for ourselves when we are so comfortable rehashing over and over, all the wrong things others have done to us. When we devote our attention to pain, hurt and that which drags us down- that’s exactly what we get. Pain, hurt and dragged on down.
You may be making an unconscious choice to remain energetically low, or sick. Today, make a conscious choice to show up. To be present to the creation of health in the body and to dismiss your urge to dwell on things that sap you of your strength.
Easier said than done, of course. But if any of this resonates with you, maybe on an itty bitty level you’re more comfortable with staying in old, unhealthy patterns than finding the courage to break free and start anew, then I hope you give this some thought. I know I’m trying to…but see, my mom died and gosh, no one really looked after me after that so I just don’t know how to take care of myself, really.
this resonates with me and my current situation (chronic fatigue syndrome). i’m down in the trough, just starting to make those kinds of changes but it’s too soon to see results in the physical realm. so i hope you are right and it’s not just wishful thinking on my part.
I think it is a likely cause, but not the only one. I’m of a mind that Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia and things of that nature are often caused by just not having enough energy. There are myriad reasons why that can happen, but emotional weights are a big one. Good luck, Sophie. Nothing but good can come of chucking the mental and emotional crap, so regardless of the outcome, keep it up:)
Actually, no. The latest research is showing that CFS is likely caused by a retrovirus, while fibromyalgia is probably a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system (which in turn causes a cascade of other problems typically associated with the disorder, including the central nervous system hypersensitization we’ve heard so much about in recent years).
If you want to read Myss, that’s your business. I’ll take the science.
There are many hypothesis, retroviruses being one that’s been thrown around since the 80’s. Indeed, infection of the obvious sort can lead to CFS. But stress, inflammation, issues with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, all of these are not ruled out as possible causes. And if indeed it is caused by a retrovirus, often they find expression because the body is run down, i.e, lacking energy. You can catch a cold because you are run down. My sister was just hospitalized with a kidney infection that only got so bad because, as her doctors put it, she is run down. Why not CFS?
Or perhaps it’s like ulcers. They used to say they were caused by stress and then, in the great enlightenment of medicine we learned that it was actually caused by H-Pylori! Oh good, no more of that nonsense about our state of mind causing ulcers. But then it was discovered that most of the population carries H-Pylori. Whether or not if finds expression as an ulcer, that’s stress. It appears we were right the first time, we now just understand how it works a little more.
In the case of fibromyalgia, I don’t think that a “malfunction of the autonomic nervous system” exists in a vacuum. I think it happens because of signals we are sending the nervous system that unfortunantly become ingrained and change the baseline reactions of nerves. Same with IBS, I tend to think.
I don’t believe Myss and science are mutually exclusive, and I think it’s unfortunate that folks limit themselves like that. More and more doctors do not, so that’s good.
Hi Sophie. I would highly recommend Ashok Gupta and his Amygdala retraining programme for overcoming CFS. It is very much based on changing thought patterns. I have had CFS for 7 years and after 2 months on Askok’s programme, I have seen significant improvement. You can find out more at http://www.cfsrecovery.com/
Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate it.
Love this. I totally agree and I’m a huge Myss fan. I’m sure some will call it the “new age airy fairy bullshit”, but my experience lines up with this, so for me it is true. When I got over myself and my victim mentality from childhood and an abusive marriage, I was able to get out of that abuse and my life and health began to improve. Thank you!!
Yeah, depending on how I’m looking at things, I myself might call it new age fairy tale bullshit. But I’ve seen it and experienced it too many times to not understand that there is much truth to this.
I just hope people don’t think I’m suggesting that sheer will and stuff is enough all the time. I just read something on CNN about parents not taking their kid to the doctor and he died of pneumonia. Instead they just prayed over him, and I shudder to think that people could think I’d be promoting that. I just think this is an angle worth looking at, especially for chronic fatigue/pain type things, irritable bowel, headaches, etc.
We acknowledge that being run down can make us more susceptible to colds. Why not acknowledge that being chronically run down can make us chronically sick? Makes sense to me.
I see it as additive rather than complete (unless it works all of a sudden!). So, I don’t think we need to set aside one treatment to focus on another. Use everything you can to get well.
Well, it still begs the question. What do you do about it? Let’s say you are sabotaging your own well-being by, say, choosing the same type of partners over and over again, what do you do? Therapy? From what I’ve seen therapy is about as successful as these nutty diets we’ve been trying and very analogous. The therapist (remember, there are probably as many different types of therapy as there are nutty-ass diets) gives people a new narrative that, at first, seems enlightening (just like diets seem to work at first) and not only does it efface the analysands authenticity (have you ever heard people who have spent a lot of time in therapy?…they all sound the same), but after a while, any positives wears off. On top of that analysands will eventually wear their friends out (just like dieters) with talk of their new-found TRUTH, so now there worse off because their friends will haul ass whenever they see the person approach. I am not saying that there might not be exceptions, but that seems to be the overall tendency.
What about positive affirmations? Very little effect. It’s like bull-shitting yourself.
I would say that there is something to be said for increasing your attention. I have a feeling that this would work for more intuitive types, if they are able to stick to paying attention. However, it will not work for those people who are not intuitive.
Just some thoughts. Myss is probably right in certain instances, but what to do about it?
I don’t think there’s an instruction manual. This is about understanding that where and what we put our energy into is a conscious choice, and learning that making poor energetic investments gets you poor returns. Putting your will into an extreme diet, a bad relationship, holding a draining grudge, all these things tax you. Hauling the feelings of childhood abandonment into your present is a tremendous drain, it’s the extreme exercise program of the soul. I think you can consciously make better choices. I think that everyone really is intuitive, and if they can clear the crap and understand how their thoughts really are affecting their health, they can consciously choose to put their energy and thoughts into things that give them better returns: like eating healthy, helping others, forgiving those who’ve hurt you, being creative.
I personally think therapy is useful to identify problems but then you gotta make peace. You know. When you get the message, hang up the phone. Otherwise, you risk framing yourself in a victim mentality, in my personal opinion.
I just wanted to add, as a Clinical Social Worker, I see many, many clients with various issues. At different times in my career, like Thomas, I have been skeptical of the therapy process and whether or not it “works”. This obviously poses a bit of a dilemma for me seeing as I am therapist!
However, the problem is not necessarily with the goals of therapy, such as personal growth, maturity, responsibility, mental well-being, etc. These things are achievable. The problem, as I see it, is that therapy (in the majority of cases) is an extension of the medical model. That is to say, most people come to therapy expecting the same approach they usually get going to doctors and hospitals – band-aids, meds, and quick fixes. In my experience, a very, very small percentage of people come to therapy wanting to do the sometimes dirty, messy work of letting go and moving forward (because of the reeasons outlined by Myss and the authour above).
So all that to say, therapy works IF a person realises that they need to be the driving force in that process and change their behaviours, thoughts, and ways they interact with the world. There is no magic wand waved by the therapist to make it all better.
Great points, Shantess.
I think I’m a therapy success story in many ways. I was really determined to overcome my eating disorder, and it was insanely hard work. I am a much, much more open person now. Totally healed? No, the letting go of pain takes a long time I guess. And my health actually got worse at some point from new stress (although 1st chakra symptoms all the way, interesting). Now that I actually acknowledge feelings, in some ways they affect me more, but I don’t starve myself to blunt the pain either, so that’s good. Not everyone is ready for the increased pain that can come with therapy.
I do think it can point out issues you had no idea existed, and then you work forward from there. For some reason, I had absolutely no recognition, for example, that my eating disorder was triggered by the death of my grandpa, who was one of the only positive people in my childhood – even though the timing was very clear. I don’t think I necessarily would have figured it out on my own. Realizing that was really huge and allowed me to work on it and release that pain. My old therapist always said, you do the real work between sessions.
I think there is a range of quality of therapists, and a range in the amount of work people want to do, as Shantess pointed out.
I’m happy therapy worked for you. For my ED, it never did because the therapist would always try to connect it to the death of my sister. I was 13 when she died, a very formative time in a person’s life, so I can understand the association. But my ED didn’t begin for another two years, and I relapsed seven years later. Her death was sudden and it was very hard on my family, but I honestly don’t think it sparked my ED. This time I saw a therapist and she wasn’t helpful either. I got better by reading this site, youreatopia, and willpower.
same experiences with me Stephanie, there are some awful therapists out there. anyway, all those years ago a switch suddenly went off and i did it on my own, willpower as you say. i think it underlines the importance on really wanting to get better deep inside and not relying on others to get you there, a lasting and real recovery can only come from you. …i don’t know, maybe it’s a British thing not being pro-therapy, i wouldn’t want to offend anyone who finds it helpful, just relaying my experience and thoughts, each to their own.
?What to do about it?? There is nothing we can ?do?. The question is itself holds assumptions about who we are that, when acted upon, only exacerbate the problem. We are using the wrong maps and assuming we have the right ones; we assume we are marching towards our goal when in fact we are walking in circles. This the core reason almost all therapies, whether alternative or mainstream, fail to produce lasting, positive change.
The only thing that can be ?done? is to be aware- aware of each thought, each emotion, each sensation. This capacity for relaxed, non-judgmental awareness contains within it, intrinsic to it, the capacity to heal. It is at once the most simple and most profound aspect of what we are. (Sorry to get a little woo-woo, but Julia started it).
The reason that none of these alternative and not-so-alternative methods truly heal is because they are based on a fundamental misperception of reality- that ?I? am a tiny, separate being living in an uncaring, dangerous universe. I have to constantly struggle to maintain myself and my self-image or I will die. Even the most modern and most alternative therapies have this assumption at their base. It isn’t true, and it causes untold and constant stress on our systems.
This belief in separation leads to a generalized, undefinable anxiety which is always right under the surface. In order to keep from feeling this most primary stress, we use TV, food, sex, etc. These act as temporary fixes to get a moment’s respite, but the anxiety always returns because it has not been dealt with, so we run to a new distraction. (This is not going to be a diatribe against any of those things, or in fact against anything. As Matt has stated that no food is inherently good or bad, it follows that no thing is inherently good or bad).
I believe that in the comments section of one of Julia’s previous posts a few people mentioned noticing a certain anxiety always being there. They were almost certainly touching on the outskirts of this unnameable fear, and because it is so pervasive it gets treated as ?just the way it is. Life can be lived free of this.
So, what can be done? Nothing. ?Doing? is the problem itself because the doing is primarily there to cover up the unconscious fears, not deal with them. Again, the doing is using the wrong map, so it can only wander hopelessly while convincing itself otherwise. The only thing is be aware, in each and every moment, of everything going on inside and outside. This simple, unadorned awareness has as its nature the capacity to heal and balance. It possess an intelligence far greater than our limited minds. True positive change will arise, spontaneously, effortlessly, out of this non-judgmental awareness.
I can guarantee, without hesitation, that if one were to make it an absolute priority to pay attention to the thoughts, emotions, and sense impressions that arise in each moment, without attempting to change or manipulate them, that over time they would see dramatic reduction in stress levels and a dramatic increase in happiness (one could even say it goes beyond happiness, but that’s for another time), and in the process discover some shocking and wonderful things about this mind/body/universe!
Being aware is a skill to be learned and practiced. I will go so far as to say in terms of its efficacy and importance in true health and well-being it is the primary skill to be learned and practiced. It is a skill that cannot be over estimated and is always under estimated.
The place where many people balk in this process is in the beginning stages. At first, paying attention is awful. We start to notice all our unconscious fears, disappointments, depressions; all the assumptions about reality that lead to our pain and stress; all of our crazy. And that is when we are most tempted to run to the familiar distractions. But if we stay in the process, become the process, we’ll emerge a changed being.
I feel that it parallels nicely with Matt’s description of metabolic recovery: initial stages of discomfort (weight gain, etc.), followed by the system balancing itself, and then returning to a more healthy ?normal?. Order followed by chaos followed by a higher order. And this process cannot be pushed or made to happen. We cannot ?fix? ourselves because we aren’t broken. We can only allow a spontaneous and balanced change to emerge as a result of aligning ourselves with reality. And as long as we can ride the chaos, the not-knowing, we can emerge on the other side happier and wiser. Which is the point, right?
Food for thought. Thank you.
I think there is a lot of truth in this, and the best therapists do try to bring awareness, I believe. This is all a very yoga and meditation-friendly view
I agree. Mindfulness meditation, awareness and learning to live in the present moment help enormously. And acceptance.
Great article, Julia.
It feels good to see there are others who agree with what I’ve been thinking for awhile now; people LOVE self-entitlement as long as it justifies their behaviour and they never need to change.
It’s something I notice in a few WAPFers and the like, for example. Didn’t have perfect teeth growing up? It’s all my parents fault, my life has been a travesty, and I need you to feel sorry for me. Yeah, for you and probably thousands of other people in the same boat; myself included.
And I’m not quite sure spending thousands of dollars on magic palette expansion to widen your face a few millimeters is going to fix personal issues that probably go much deeper than having narrow jaws.
That’s hilarious Brad, because I got into some serious “Hey wait, I’m a victim!” stuff a year or two ago, and top on the list of new complaints was my seriously narrow jaw. Oh man, this thing is narrow. I can’t become slightly not totally skinny without getting some double chin action because the whole face set up is just too small. I don’t have enough teeth, I will forever have two baby teeth because my itsy bitsy mouth never made the right amount of chompers. WOE. IS. ME.
The really stupid part is I learned all this crap. When my mom died, I kinda took it like a champ- until I realized that everyone else thought it was the end of the world…hey wait, maybe it is! And I never wanted to get my teeth fixed, I thought they were unique and cool and mine…until I realized it was because I’m just too stupid to know that I was gipped out of a good, strong jaw by my mother’s evil margarine habit! DAMN HER!
We’re all looking for answers, reasons why we are what we are and feel as bad as we feel. At some point, you gotta give up the criminal trial of all players in your life and say “ok, these are the cards. Let’s play.”
Thanks for your comment.
Well said Julia!!!!!!
Thank you Julia. I have witnessed your blog post!
Julia, I agree for the most part with your take on therapy. I have been in therapy for awhile now and have just started thinking that it makes me spend MORE time thinking about very upsetting things. But, at the same time, it took a very long time for me to understand, in my gut, what the problem was, and I credit my therapist with helping me do that. I meditated and yoga-d and all that stuff and it didn’t help all that much with the crippling anxiety I felt for so long. But now, 6 years later with the problem fully understood, I feel like those techniques can help with the moving on portion of the program (and with greater understanding the anxiety abated considerably, though not completely). But sometimes it can take a lot of help to even access the emotions that are causing the chronic problems, I think (and have experienced).
Totally, Carrie! I went to therapy for a little while and it was uncomfortable for me at first, because I don’t dig the “and how does that make you feel? You must have been so hurt” kind of thing, but it was useful to identify some stuff and to really air some real live grievances. But airing grievances can become addictive and after awhile, not be useful. Like all things, it’s good to see when it’s a boost and when it’s a drain. Sounds like you’ve got a good grasp on that.
Letting go and forginveness are not the same things. Is it even possible to forgive someone who doesn’t want to be forgiven?
Also, how can you assign a 93% accuracy rate to something that is vague and subjective to begin with?
Yeah, it’s possible. I have issue with that, too. But I think it’s better to forgive someone and understand that they’re human and they make mistakes. Even if they seem not to want it.
I guess I assign it because it’s what a video of hers says in the intro. It’s based on her ability to make diagnosis of patients without knowing anything about their medical history. Totally get if you think that’s up for debate, it probably is.
What your post is saying may be applicable to some people, but to those who have suffered past abuse especially childhood stuff, it is not helpful. To tell these people that they need to forgive only adds to their stress and is damn insensitive. It short circuits the painful process they must go through to deal with the effect it had and still has on them. They need to deal with their anger and hurt first, which is the real hold it has on them. I think that forgiveness is optional and that some things are simply unforgiveable, especially when the perpetrator only wants to continue to abuse. Forgiveness is a 2 way street and it is possible to move on without it.
Remember, the type of person who is unaffected by such traumas is called psychopath.
Regarding the 93% success, is there any source that is independent of Myss’s own books and videos?
Pink, I sympathize with what you’re saying. There is one particular incident of my childhood that inflames me with rage whenever I think of it, as hot as if it were yesterday. The worst part of it is that it was so hideous and so unfair and so painfully negligent- and no one who was responsible owned up to it. There is a cloud of delusion surrounding the events at the time, a series of stories those involved told themselves that allowed them to feel better about it, and no one has ever come to me with an ounce of humility or concern or apology. People around me drop their jaws in shock when I tell about it, and yet my family acts as if it were a minor blip. And every time I think of it, I clench up and I get all hot and pissed as if it’s happening all over again. And they were wrong to treat me how they did. I have no doubt in my mind or heart that I deserved much better and the reasons why I didn’t get any better were that people who should have cared, didn’t. No doubt. But you know what? I can’t afford to get all hot and pissed every single time I think of it. I can’t afford to not have a relationship with my entire family, not have a relationship with the children of someone involved in it, to see all my anger and sense of being wronged when I look at any of these people. Can I keep my distance? Yep. Can I set boundaries that will not ever cause me to be in a position that I am doing for those who did not do for me? You bet I can. But I can also understand that people are just people and people hurt other people. We do it for bad reasons. We do it to protect ourselves, we do it to act out on feelings we have that are precipitated by being abused or neglected ourselves. It’s all a big cycle of crap. Take no shit, that’s for sure. But I think forgiveness is very powerful. It gives you back a part of yourself that is invested in something very dark and painful. And it’s not for the other person, oh no. It’s a truly selfish act, and it should be. I don’t mean to stress anyone out, no one has to or should do one damn thing they aren’t comfortable with. It’s just something to consider.
Nope, no outside studies that I’m aware of. But you can look into it if you like. I appreciate skepticism.
Excellent point. There is a big difference between understanding and coming to terms with the fact that whatever happened did in fact happen and letting go of the idea that somehow we can change the past, to me thats what forgiveness is about. Its letting go of charged up anger because the time for it has past. Now is the time to heal from what happened and still have the sense and ability to set boundaries to do our best to prevent whatever it was from happening again. For me it was realizing that what happened in the past wouldn’t happen again if for no other reason that I am now an adult and my less than savory past was in my childhood. Could someone abuse me? Maybe, if I were alone and they outweighed me. But only under those circumstances. Not under any others. I usually have lots of friends and trusted family around me. So, the ugliness from my childhood just can’t happen anymore. So, its ok for me to set it aside and trust my ability to remember that it did. Sometimes I think our intense flash backs and anger are there to help us to remember. But, as we get older we know that we can rely on ourselves to do just that without having an intense response for ever and ever and ever. In some ways, I think it might come down to a lack of self trust.
Sounds like letting go is what you are describing, not forgiveness. I think that the word has been abused a lot.
I think letting go is great, but I think forgiveness is better. I think that’s up to the individual to decide.
I meant to post my comment about letting go here, not at the bottom of Alsiha’s post. I think that you and Alisha are posting what I have been saying all along, that it is important to let go and the way to do that is deal with the trauma, not forgive.
I see. You feel that you’re way of dealing with trauma and letting go of it is THE way to deal with it and that forgiveness is decidedly NOT. Gotcha.
You have either misunderstood me, or you are putting words in my mouth. I was mirroring what you both were saying, I never said anything about HOW to deal with a trauma, just that it needed to be dealt with. Actually you and many posters here are the ones prescribing YOUR way of dealing with a trauma by stating what will or will not work best and bringing up irrelevant themes which would be considered manipulative in a therapeutic environment. I doubt any of you have never had any experience in such an environment (I have) and I am disturbed by the lack of tact and empathy shown here.
Also, I never accused anyone of lying. If I claim that process x lead to effect y 90% of the time, unless it is independently tested, it is meaningless. This doesn’t mean that I am lying, just that it is not an objective fact, 2 totally different things. Given your experience with the claims of fad diets, I assumed that you would have appreciated this. If I really did find something that worked with such a success rate and if I really was interested in making it useful to help people, instead of just selling books then I would have it independently tested. Even more so if I had taken a medical oath of “do no harm.”
I didn’t think I was putting words in your mouth, but perhaps I misconstrued them. You said that the way to let go of trauma is by dealing with it, NOT forgiveness- suggesting you think the two are mutually exclusive and that by forgiving, you aren’t really dealing with the trauma. That’s what I thought you were saying. And I don’t think that’s true. Forgiveness isn’t avoiding the reality of a trauma, but it can be a final step in dealing with it that I believe offers benefits. Can be. Not must be.
I’m not prescribing anything. I think that if you look through my comments, you’ll find something to the effect of “no one should do anything they’re uncomfortable with, it’s just something to consider” or “if you aren’t willing to consider forgiving others, that’s your choice and an understandable one” or “if what i’m suggesting doesn’t sit well with you, that’s ok, I get that.” I do not have the manual for how to deal with trauma. I would never be so arrogant to proceed like I do. There is none. This is simply an interesting line of thought that I think holds a lot of water, personally. In my experience. From what I’ve seen. From my perspective. I do a lot of qualifying of what I say with stuff like that, because I know that we are all different and I don’t believe in absolutes. I think that presenting ideas and opinions that people can reflect on and agree with or not is what this is all about. I don’t want anyone to do what I say, I want people to think for themselves. This is an interesting idea that helps a lot of people. Obviously, you aren’t one of those people. And that’s really ok.
I’ve seen nothing on this thread that I’d consider an “irrelevant theme.” Irrelevant to what? This is a discussion and people are bringing up their thoughts about the subject, what’s irrelevant? And I’m not sure what would be considered “manipulative” in a therapeutic setting, but like, I’ve been to therapy. I’m willing to bet a lot of folks posting here have been to therapy, I think one is even a clinical therapist. And I’ll tell you what, I am critical of the conventional therapeutic setting. It is not the only way, it is not without flaw. So if what I’m saying here clashes with what a therapist would say, I own that and I don’t mind.
Why do you think people are showing a lack of empathy? So right off the bat you know I had a bad childhood trauma- boy, I didn’t even tell you the details! Suffice it to say, I have empathy for trauma out the wazoo.There are plenty of unfun things that have happened to me that I can empathize with. And I can sympathize with the stuff I haven’t had happen to me. You’ve got people on here talking about their abusive childhoods, eating disorders, death of a sibling, crippling anxiety, etc. There are ways to deal with trauma that are compassionate, even if they aren’t in the text book.
Again, so it’s clear, I totally understand why one would balk at the concept of forgiveness. Totally.
And here’s some info on that 93% rating:
“Caroline Myss is called America’s #1 medical intuitive because of her documented 93 percent accuracy rate in a scientific blind study conducted by Dr. Norm Shealy, a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon, graduate of Duke Medical School, and founder of the prestigious American Holistic Medical Association two decades ago.”
So it was a study done by the neurosurgeon she ended up writing a book with. If you want more studies in order to buy it, I get that. If you want more studies to get a more accurate percent value, fine. But the point is, she’s pretty good at what she does, so long as her and Norm Shealy didn’t make it up. Again, whether or not Myss can do what she claims she can do, and what a study has proven she can do, is not something I care to persuade you on because I don’t know and it’s about the only irrelevant theme I’ve seen hammered on in this whole thread. I have no interest in convincing the reader of it. I was merely introducing Carolyn Myss, and that’s what she’s known for.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
When you forgive, you are free. You take back your power.
You aren’t giving up anything.
As long as you hold a grudge, you are a prisoner to your thoughts.
This gives the other person control over your life, though they
may not literally be in your life.
They hurt you in the past, don’t let them have your future too.
Would you really say that to someone who had suffered a trauma? Would you really say that outside new age circles to someone who, say lost a child?
Yes, I would.
I suffered a terrible childhood. Too, adults that should have
been there to help, also hurt me.
As I said, forgiveness is a gift to oneself. I know first hand
how much peace it brings to my spirit.
I think you think, forgiveness means that what the other did
is now “ok” No, that is not what forgiveness is about. What
happened will never be ok. How I internalize what happened
is what matters now. Now, I no longer hold anger. I don’t
have a desire to punish, get even, or act out in any way.
I chose to love myself and, others. This choice brings peace
and, happiness to my life
Pink, I think there comes a time in a persons suffering where
they are ready to be at peace. I am 51 years old. It does take
time. This doesn’t happen in a moment. Too, for me it has been
necessary for health to come to peace with everyone involved.
Including forgiving myself.
I think many of us have suffered traumas, Pink. I think the people who have learned the real power of forgiveness in their personal lives are the ones who’ve experienced some of the most heinous traumas. But from my perspective, it’s not the most important takeaway from this. Forgiveness is a surprisingly effective way to unload a lot of mental weight that bogs people down. But if you aren’t ready or willing to do that, that’s your choice, and an understandable one. I’m not very good at it myself, though I’d like to be. When I have been able to really forgive, and in that, let go of the power something or someone has over me and just see them as another fallible human who made a mistake, I feel loads lighter.
I want to reiterate that forgiveness isn’t the same as saying “that’s okay, no harm done” and giving the perpetrator of the offense a big hug. Wrong is wrong and evil is evil.
I think that forgiveness is about working towards wanting what is genuinely good for the person who hurt you. Sometimes that means punishment, like going to prison for example. I think it means hoping that the person who did wrong can grow and heal and develop to the place where they can recognise that they did wrong, and feel remorse. I think it means hoping that the person who hurt you can become a good and kind person instead of a careless or cruel or even evil one, and hoping it for their own sake. It doesn’t mean liking that person or being their friend or even being involved in their life, it just means wanting what is truly best for them and moving on.
Basically I’m agreeing with the people who say forgiveness is important, but trying to clarify for Pink that being “forgiving” doesn’t require one to have warm fuzzy feelings towards the person being forgiven. It also doesn’t mean letting the person off without appropriate consequences to their actions.
I think it was in her book that she had cowritten with an MD.He did diagnoses the traditional way and with blood tests and scans and she did her thing.Then they compared the results and she was right 93% of the time.
If there are no independent studies done, so that means that she is merely claiming 93% success, as it hasn’t been verified. Anybody can claim anything in their books and it means squat, no matter how many experts they co-wrote it with.
Ok, so basically what you’re saying is that anyone can be lying about anything. The doctor could be lying, Myss could be lying, I could be lying, you could be lying. Right. I don’t think she’s lying. But even if she is, this isn’t a post about the the accuracy of Caroline Myss as a medical intuitive. I have no urge to defend it. If you find something that proves it’s a load of hooey, I’d listen with open ears. I’m surprised by it myself, but I don’t doubt it’s possible.
Hey Julia Gumm – Thanks for this. I recently discovered your writing via this website and absolutely love what you have to say. Keep up the awesome work!
Good post. On a side point, if you don’t mind: Does anyone know if eating for heat in the summer time is still desirable? If the heat outside is already warming you up, do you want to be amplifying that effect? I want to continue my eat for heat journey, but when it’s 90 out, I’m not feeling it lol.
I think it’s totally true that sometimes we don’t WANT to be well. I think there’s even more to it than just having an excuse for our behavior, but I haven’t quite figured out what that is.
I have had job-related anxiety for 10 years (since my first job) and it got bad enough a few years ago that I saw a therapist. That didn’t seem to help much. What did help was finally quitting that job, moving to a new state to live with my in-laws to learn about gardening and chicken keeping, and not “working” for about 6 months. Even though the living situation wasn’t exactly stress-free, I started my next job feeling confident and energetic like I never had before. That was four years ago and the anxiety has begun to build up again. Partly because of situations at work, but I think also because I’ve just gradually become worn out again.
They say the way to treat anxiety is to confront the situation you’re afraid of over and over again. For me that made the anxiety become almost crippling–the best thing for me was to get away from it for a while! Unfortunately that’s not usually possible for most people.
Just wanted to say I get lots of good info from this site and I love this article. I suffered from panic attacks, depression and obsessive behavior for many years and I was always very skeptical of alternative therapies. Luckily, before I entered the world of Rivotril, I found a therapist who changed my life. She was able to identify these said “patterns”, which were blocking my energy and bringing all this mental mess. Over the past 10 years, I have diligently practiced the mental exercises she`s taught me, besides being aware of my thoughts and doing my best not to delve into negative feelings. I still struggle from time to time, but I am miles better and I feel so empowered, finally, to have gained self-control, without medications or special diets (thank god!). I am sorry if this sounds like quackery to you, but it rings true to me and is the king of knowledge that has changed my life and, hopefully, will change many others for the better. (I apologize for my grammar in advance – English is not my first language!) I hope you will have more articles like this. :)
Marcela, would you care expanding on what type of techniques you used? I find this really interesting and would love to know how you brought on those changes…
Nice article Julia. My sentiments exactly. My mother, (who has also passed away) taught me that responsibility is personal and absolute. I am so grateful to her for that. It has made my own journey toward health that much more enriching. It has also been one of the most intense and challenging lessons of my life.
Julia – nice article. Are you familiar with TMS – tension myositis syndrome? It’s primarily the work of Dr John Sarno. Wondering if you know much about TMS and if it might add to this discussion as well. :-)
I have heard of it, Paul. I think it’s a fancy name for a straightforward problem that requires a fancy name for people to take seriously. We gotta dress this stuff up in a white lab coat to take it seriously, and that’s fine. I think it’s a tremendous relief for people to understand that they have nameable illness. It takes a weight off of them, and gives them hope for a future. From what I understand, treatment is acknowleding and sitting with your painful emotional feelings and seeking out therapies, while going about your normal life. Looks good to me.
I should say, giving a medical title to their bad feelings allows people to take these kinds of issues seriously, and I think that’s great. I think it’s validating, and sometimes that alone is what people need to start feeling better. The mind is very very powerful, and it affects how we feel in very straightforward ways that aren’t “woo woo” at all. Physicians who deny this have their heads up their ass.
This is a really great piece, Julia. It’s incredible how intertwined the body and mind are. It is amazing also how often we repeat patterns in our lives.
It never occurred to me that some people might want to perpetuate victim-hood. I know a woman who was abused as a child, married a man who was an abuser – of both her and her children – and has had longterm depression, which she medicates basically, though she has done therapy, too, in the past. She is still with the abuser now, and although he is no longer physically abusive he is controlling, selfish and neglectful of their children. I could not for the life of me understand why she would stay with this guy, but she is certainly a victim type. Always woe is me, even though her own decisions have caused so much harm to herself and her children (who have serious emotional issues now, that she seems somewhat in denial about). I’ve always felt badly for her, but angry in a way, too. Never able to get herself up and do better. I hope she will have the strength one day.
I am also a medical intuitive and am working on a graduate degree at a school that was founded by Carolyn Myss. I have always been into prevention and think the wonderful thing is that problems can show up in the etheric body and be corrected before ever manifesting in the physical body. Also, even if you already have a physical issue, correcting it energetically can really be considered to be addressing the true cause.
Getting healthy can be a burden. It begs the question…what do you want to do with the newfound energy? When your primary focus in life is on your sickness and the goal of getting better, it can be easy to lose sight of what kind of life you’d want to have for yourself if you were completely healthy.
That said, studying human health has been one of the most fascinating and absorbing experiences of my life. I daydream a lot about a future where the science of human health is public knowledge, and where people can reap all of the tangible and intangible benefits associated with that: namely, having better health and developing a thirst for knowledge and discovery that keeps people motivated to live and explore despite all the challenges we all have in this world.
The cool thing is that I’ve personally lived that dream in my own very small way; and that’s been and continues to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. With my history of self-destructive behaviors, getting involved in trying to *help* my body and *heal* it instead of thinking of how worthless I was and how to destroy it was a *huge* step up. I have a genuine interest in human health that doesn’t have anything to do with whether I feel healthy or unhealthy.
Being aware of subconscious programs is extremely important. But it’s also important to focus on what we’re doing well — what are we doing that’s making us feel good? What are we doing that’s on the right track? For me, studying nutrition feels like it’s on the right track. Just like playing music and working on other people’s guitars and putting my own together just the way I want.
I have a ton of issues with intimacy/relationships. Lifelong history of severe cravings for touch/affection/companionship/closeness/sex/intimacy alongside repeated episodes of running away from opportunities when they present themselves, and preferring to live in a fantasy world. A fantasy world that tortures me in proportion to how much it comforts me.
So I’m still stuck on that one. It’s getting better very slowly, but I’m still stuck, and I’ve been stuck as far back as I can remember.
That’s an example of something that *isn’t* going well. But I tell you what. Thinking about what you *are* doing well can help you figure out some things with what you *aren’t* doing well. Guitars and nutrition might not seem associated with relationships, intimacy and sex, but…
…when we understand what it’s like to feel fulfilled and satisfied by something, we can apply our understanding of that feeling to other areas of our life.
So to recap: we have programs that are running that can ruin our lives, but I think it’s just as important to look for any good programs we have in addition to uprooting the counterproductive ones. Chances are you’re not doing everything wrong, and focusing on what you’re doing right, no matter how insignificant it seems, can go a long way in teaching you and guiding you in regards to your other issues that you haven’t had any success with.
“If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.”
~Vincent Van Gogh
Nice post, Julia.
I found a book that talks more or less about this kind of things (like “forgiveness” and overcoming ugly past events) from a non woo-woo point of view.
I recommend it to anyone who feels uncomfortable with things like “chakras”, though it doesn’t has a lot to do with the mind-body connection, and there’s in it an ugly chapter on obesity (just ignore it). It’s called The Undefeated Mind, by Alex Lickerman.
I don’t think it’s got anything to do with changing one’s thoughts. I think it’s about being willing and able to face one’s feelings. Being sick can fill a function, just as being a workaholic can. ie, it can be used as a defense against having to feel and face one’s feelings. It can be easier to feel the physical pain than to feel the emotional pain. I also firmly believe that the physical pain literally IS the emotional pain. The energy has been transformed into arthritis pain and swelling for example. The rage is the migraine.
I still believe that people want to heal, that no one wants to be in suffering. However, the way our systems have coped for most our lives can’t easily be changed. If we’re not able to, willing to, or taught how to face our feelings, chances are we’re not going to be able to choose health.
I think it’s victim blaming to say that sick people are not willing to be responsible for themselves and are just wanting to be taken care of. I think that the problem is that doctors and most psychologists are helpless in the face of psychosomatic illness. Most have no clue what to do about it. And I also think that the vast majority of people have psychosomatic episodes during their lives, but will never know or admit to it, nor get any kind of help for it.
Feelings are a very powerful energy. Being in a manipulative relationship would generate a lot of rage and sadness…if that gets stuck in the body, yes, for sure there will most likely be physical symptoms as a result….
It is my understanding that childhood abuse will always generate anger, rage and sadness. And in most cases childhood abuse exists in an environment that absolutely necessitates the repression of such negative feelings in order to preserve the tiny little crumbs of love the abusive parents can give their children.
I also believe that forgiving torturers is a big mistake and will make healing very, very difficult if not impossible. Seeing with clarity who is the perpetrator, seeing what damage they have done, and feeling the rage and sadness that results from this reality must be a better way to go as Alice Miller suggests in her excellent book “The body never lies.” Sure, if a perpetrator/torturer/abuser should come and repent, own their evil actions and ask for forgiveness, that’s a totally different story, but that is almost unheard of its so rare.
How can blame an abused child and tell that child that it is getting power from playing the victim? Not me. It’s the fault of the adult abusive caretaker, not the child. The fault lies with the abusive parent, the responsibility to heal then falls on every individual.
In this world there are no “out of jail cards”. We either show up to work and do a good job or we’re living in poverty and dependance.
?Oh, I’m sorry I screamed at you this morning, but you know it’s my mother’s birthday”
I have no idea who this person is? I have not met this kind of person in the many survivor groups I’ve attended. People that I’ve met seem to feel awful and be very apologetic if they lash out after a particularly tough trigger filled day. Most of us turn it against ourselves anyways.
“Maybe that’s when you stay in old patterns that your childhood imprinted on you. Maybe pick a partner who treats you just as badly as your dad did. Maybe you choose the same friends over and over, you know, the ones who stab you in the back. Maybe you’re doing it to remain a victim. Maybe you’re sabotaging your own strength.”
This is totally destructive victim blaming and lacks any compassion and deeper understanding. I totally disagree that this is what people who suffer are engaged in because they simply refuse to take responsibility for their lives. The writer seems totally ignorant about the effects of trauma on people and the commonly resulting compulsive repetition. People need real help to get out of those deadly patterns. Not to be blamed and told they are weak.
I am totally on board with the psychosomatic link and on people taking responsibility for their own lives and actions and healing, but I am convinced that this kind of flaming victim-blaming won’t help a single soul.
Hey Lisa. Maybe if I put it this way: I think that the body is very susceptible to the power of suggestion. It really is.
For example, when recovering from a recent concussion, one medical suggestion was to not be completely inactive as it sends the hypothalamus “I’m sick!” suggestions, which can actually keep you feeling unwell and contribute to post-concussive syndrome. Whoa.
I think similarly, continuing to identify as the victim of a very very hard time in your life can send signals to your body that you are in as precarious a position as you were when you were really being victimized. This can have far-reaching health effects of the PTSD nature. Now, this is no one’s “fault.” You are most definitely correct, if there is abuse, it is the abuser who is to blame for it. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. And being victimized is no fun, especially as a child. It really does condition you to live in a world where vulnerability is punished and your guard has gotta stay up, which we all understand has far reaching health consequences.
What happens is, an un-well mental state becomes our norm. It’s our status quo, and the reasons for that are not not not not not NOT the fault of the victim. It’s simply conditioning, all things adapt to the environment they’re growing in. A tree will stretch and contort itself to seek whatever sunlight it can reach. A cat grows a thicker coat in the winter to protect itself from the cold. We produce stress hormones and suppress digestion and immunity when we perceive reasons to be on alert. Trouble comes when we are still perceiving those threats long after they’ve passed. I understand that there are a lot of good, solid, biological reasons for these patterns to continue to play out in the body, but I think we can assume a level of conscious power over it, if we choose to claim it. After all, it was your conscious power that perceived and reacted to the threat to begin with. Why wouldn’t you then have the power to see a different reality? One where you’re safe, not being abused, not being abandoned?
This isn’t about telling people they’re weak. This isn’t an attempt to shame people for finding comfort in the power of their wound. You can’t blame a tree for being contorted, when the only reason it grew that way was to look for some sun in an otherwise dark, lifeless world. It had to do it to survive. But when the sun is out with no obstacles in front of it and yet the tree still grows gnarled, all the while wishing it could grow straight and tall, well then, I think it’s the tree’s perception that is holding it back. But trees don’t do that. People do.
Lisa, I do know people who hide behind their wounds. I know people who are scared of relationships because of the hurts of past ones. I know people who are extremely defensive (sometimes angrily so) because they’ve been humiliated in the past. I know someone who refuses to be in the presence of ham because fifteen years ago, she got food poisoning after eating ham- a ham long since dead, mind you. I think you might know these people, too. They’re just more recognizable examples of the same theme that I dramatized with the dead mom thing. I would never flat out say “Oh hey, you know it’s not my fault, my mom is dead!” to excuse my behavior. But I have acted irrationally fearful of abandonment, and it has contributed to difficulties in relationships with people who are probably not going to keel over dead anytime soon. And even if they did, it wouldn’t be to abandon me or to play on my wound or any of that nonsense. But I expect a level of sympathy. I need to be with people who I know are going to respect that. Does that hold me back?
Myss talks about how continuing to live your wounds gives you a sense of control, and there’s nothing more attractive to someone who is fearful than gaining control. If I have a real phobia of ham and it’s really creeping me out, I can make a big loud show of it and make sure it isn’t served at Christmas. If I am afraid of humiliation or being attacked, I can rationalize why I’m so defensive and learn that others will sympathize with it and let me off the hook.
Now, sometimes we actually do have episodes where we can’t control our fear. But other times, after a lifetime of living with these issues, you can get comfortable with them. You’re adapted to them. As a conscious being, I believe you can create a new reality to adapt to. If you don’t, you’ll remain conditioned to unhealthy, draining realities. In that case, your most vibrant, energetic self will allude you.
This isn’t flaming victim blaming, and it really has helped many souls- mine included. But if it doesn’t sit well with you, that’s ok. I understand your feelings on forgiveness, and I agree that people need to really understand and process the rage they have towards people who’ve hurt them. That’s real. I am an unapologetic advocate for never ever ever sweeping anything under the rug. Air that dirty laundry. Tell people how you really feel. Let sunshine disinfect it and never say that what happened to you was “ok.” But don’t BE it. Don’t let a constant stream of anger sap you of your strength. Don’t let it drain you. Don’t let yourself be defined by what others decided your life was going to be. Forgiveness is a powerful tool to that end. It’s saying “What you did sucked but it has no power over me anymore, so sure. I forgive you.”
You have the utmost authority over what your reality is. When people are abused or victimized in some awful way, they feel like they’ve lost authority over their lives, and they begin to look for backdoor ways to regain control- eating disorders, possibly being manipulative, being emotionally needy- again, totally understandable. But there is much power is saying that you actually do have the authority to make your life better. You can stand up and make your own life. It’s as frightening as it is freeing.
Thanks for your comment:)
So, here’s a question for both of you, based on your thoughtful comments. In the example of the woman I posted above (abused as a child, married an abuser who abused her and their 2 sons, and is still married to him although he is no longer actively abusive but is controlling, cold and neglectful of the sons). Her grown sons have real, fairly serious emotional issues. Neither is in therapy, or has ever been. The mom encourages medication instead (I personally think out of fear for what they will discover in therapy).
Not to start assigning blame, but who should the sons blame here (or at least feel angry toward) for their horrible childhood treatment? but I say the mom bears 50% of the responsibility for the abuse, because while she did not commit it, she stood by and let it occur, and did not remove the children from that household though she knew the firsthand the lifelong harm it causes. So, while we don’t want to blame the “victim,” she became an accomplice because of her own inability to resolve her own issues and whatever compulsion caused her to marry an abuser.
And because Mom was the only one giving love, the sons are bound and determined to stand by her and excuse her, and cannot deal with their own issues as of yet in life (and the very real, extremely apparent anger issues that they have – but cannot stand to deal with the fact that they have anger toward mom, because she is a saint in their eyes).
This is all so complex, but I think brings up issues of responsibility that a victim has. If we always excuse the victim, what do we say when an abused child turns around and becomes an abuser? We are all responsible for the choices we make in life, and I do blame her as much as the dad for her children’s issues (although as adults they are now responsible for working out these issues).
Julia and The Real Amy, I think both of your comments here are brilliant.
And just to add, you said there are no get out of jail free cards, that there is showing up and doing a good job, or there is a life of poverty and dependence. Bingo.
Thank you Lisa, you articulated what I was attempting to say so well.
Good article, Julia. You presented it in a way that won’t make people put their fingers in their ears and run away shouting “newagebullshitlalalalalalala”
I agree that forgiveness is for YOU and not for anyone else. There’s no need to tell someone that you’ve forgiven them, or are working on forgiving them. Most of the time, abusive people can’t admit to themselves or anyone else that they’re toxic, destructive assholes, so telling them that you’re forgiving them is likely to just incite cynical or defensive remarks.
Thanks Cameron. I’ve got a warring affinity for new age bullshit and an innate sense of hyper-critical skepticism goin’ on. But I’m learning that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. A lotta this bullshit has something to it, stuff that’s actually quite logical. Energy drains are energy drains and they make you feel like shit. Just like not eating enough will slow you down and give you all sorts of bodily pains and problems, this is the same thing. It’s just a matter of fuel in the tank.
You’re right about forgiveness. I’ve got a nasty pestering urge to forgive a couple of assholes in my life, but I just don’t know how to go about it. Worst part is, I’m pretty sure they either aren’t sorry, or they are too tightly caged in by their pride to admit that they actually did anything wrong. I think the two of them are too wrapped up in their own story of victimhood that everything they did wrong to me was just a form of them defending themselves. I think that’s a lot of what wrong doing to others is. And I think it’s what makes it actually forgivable.
I agree that you cant use your past forever but unfortunately by the time you realize you are screaming at someone it is too late. This mechanism is used to protect us, someone gives you a fright and you are ready to run or fight – your body changes instantly (heartbeat, blood flow, adrenaline….). So when you have a childhood that teaches you that you are not good enough, not important, not wanted these things live in you. The problem with this is that emotions get stuck so emotions that was not allowed/supported as a child/baby rule you. So lets say you where left to scream at night while being scared – that emotion becomes too much and there is no one to help you through it you suppress it. So later in life when you are left in the dark it comes back.Also if you are left to scream every night you build layers of emotions until you lose contact with them. That is why people use drugs,alcohol, tv, it takes you out of your body(feelings) and into your mind.
But the problem with what you are saying is that you need to fight your emotions even more, just suck it up and try to control it. It is not possible. It is like an addiction you can try and try but until that emotion is handled you will have to fight it for the rest of your life.
For me the best way to integrate emotions are using awareness and actually sitting with the emotion and feeling it for the first time. Not very easy as they are usually very strong and scary.
Ever heard the saying as within so without( the secret, religion….). It means all your wounds inside, you seek outside. So if your mother did not want you you will look for that love in other woman as you grow up to cover the feeling of rejection and not being enough. So until you can see that and feel the feeling of rejection and hurt you will need to cover it by striving to get it on the outside.
I have looked to deal with my issues and I got to a point where I was tired to act as if all is ok, trying to fight it, trying to be something. Covering all my wounds with money, love, anger depression. And for the first time I am starting to dissolve all my unfelt emotions, I have used the work of Scott Kiloby – you can learn most of it for free on you tube and his book Living Relationship is great.
Good luck and there is a way out of the struggle to a point where you don’t have to work all day to fight your self.
I think you’re definitely right about the power of sitting with your feelings. Through that harrowing and awful experience, we learn that the fear of the feeling is actually worse than the feeling itself. That’s a useful device for getting over drug addiction, too.
My roommate and I tend to interestingly compliment each other’s knowledge: she reads a lot about teen psychology and how the brain works, and I’m more into the energetic stuff. But they sync up marvelously. She told me once that an article she read stated that the teenage brain is more willing to take risks even when the outcome is unknown, whereas the adult brain will prefer uncomfortable situations over unknown ones. We have both found this in our own lives, and it’s easy (when put in these terms) to see how negative patterns of behavior and thoughts can carry over into adulthood and become a crutch- because that is so much easier than developing a new, healthier pattern. So I think that a lot of our conventional science does- when it digs deeply enough- support the energetic take on health.
I’m very inclined to agree with Russell, that to heal things there’s nothing you can “do”- although forgiveness is a very powerful tool, and positive things like it (compassion, love, peace) come from the same place, which is consciousness. Once you’re conscious (not saying that I am by any means) you realize that your suffering is not YOU, and that the core of yourself is completely untouched, even if your ego suffers. It is scary to the ego to become aware but as Paolo Coelho says in The Alchemist, “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dream.” That doesn’t mean that terrible things didn’t really happen, or that they don’t matter, or will never have any effect on you- I think it’s actually the opposite. That you’re more willing to engage in the process of facing it without judgment, and you find the healing within the dis-ease.
This post rings very true… I always feel I get a physical issue at a time where I am somewhat unconsciously not ready to face a new chapter in my life. Once, I was in a play and got my first every singing role. I was SO nerve wrecked by the thought of not doing things correctly, not acting well enough, etc, that half-way through rehearsal, I hurt my back and had trouble using my legs. I sprained my lower back and could not walk or dance efficiently, so I had to drop-out of rehearsals. I quickly came to realize that my injury happened as I was putting myself down and saying to myself that they should have chosen someone else. I realized that I did really want this role, and decided that I was going to believe in my self and kick ass. After a night spent getting tests done at the hospital (the doc’s would not believe me when I said I hurt my lack playing limbo) I finally found an osteopath who realigned my lower back. The next day, I could walk normally and dance, and reclaimed my role onstage, had a great time, and was proud of my performance. Negative self-talk can really be destructive.
I am dealing with something similar at the moment, and came across the concept of affirmations. Though I know many think these are quacky, but I do have to admit, repeating positive affirmations for a few minutes, in tune with what I believed my tension was caused by, literally melted my tension from my body and muscles, a feeling of release I have not felt in years, if not ever. It felt so great, and that’s why I want to keep doing them. I also find it very empowering with my issue of fear, to repeat that I am safe, and capable of taking on that specific challenge. It may be over-simplistic and optimistic, my body actually responds very favourable instantly, hence I think I will include these positive thoughts in my life and see if I can get out a little more confident, calmer, and braver.
I could see that letting those hidden emotions be felt can also be therapeutic, but perhaps much more demanding. Thanks again for the post.
I once knew a lady who was married to a man who had a hard time staying employed. She did a daycare to make ends meet. She was very busy.
Later on, her husband started smoking and drinking in private and had an even harder time keeping a job. This family had very little money and she continued to have a daycare to try to make ends meet.
She had a TON of allergies. I was friends with her daughter and couldn’t wear perfume or anything scented around her. She had a lot of food allergies and had to make a lot of things from scratch. She struggled quite a bit.
One day, my friend found her dad in bed with another woman. My friend was horrified.
When her mother found out, she left her husband. She became a real estate agent, lost some weight, most of her allergies went away and she got remarried.
For most of us who knew her, it was a miracle to see her overcome most of her allergies, and it was very eye-opening to see her overcome them after she left her cheating husband!
Sounds about right. This happens to so many people. Very inspiring.
I think stress is at the crux of why I’m not healing fully. Lack of sleep makes it worse. And lately, when I’m in the middle of what I think is a stressful situation, my temperature drops and I break into a cold sweat. Fun, but it also gives me a signal… “Slow down!” or “Stop!” or “Get some quiet time ASAP!” or “Eat some ice cream!” Eating sugar helps me with my stress.
I also have a hard time obsessing over the things people have done to hurt me. Unfortunately, a few of these people are in my life and it really will be appropriate one day for me to forgive. Right now, it’s helpful for me to stay away from them..there is one person in particular who, if she moved to Siberia and stayed there for forever, I wouldn’t think anything of it. Staying away from people I have issues with has been sooooooo helpful for me…for now. Forgiveness later on will be important.
Keeping busy with other positive goals has been helpful – it helps me not to feel stagnant and stuck. Spending fun time with my family has been good too. Gratitude helps.
Thank you for this.
So, maybe I missed it, but I think one perspective of illness may have been left out. Obviously from the point of view of the ego illness is always seen as an evil. It’s uncomfortable and gets in the way of the ego’s demands. However, if you agree with me that the ego does not deserve the centrality it receives or, at the very minimum, that the ego is one actor among many in the psyche, then we have to think that sickness may from non-ego perspectives have a positive effect. Obviously to accept this we are on the border of leaving behind cartesian dualism and entering a quasi-religious domain. We may even depict these non-ego functions with what the Greeks called Moires or the Fates.
So maybe there is some other force acting in our lives or psyches that doesn’t give a damn that a given person wants to rise up the corporate chain, have 2.5 children and live in a nice house. Maybe this non-ego force has other plans for us. So, it gets us sick in order to force the ego to give us its goal and hopes somehow to bring us around. I believe this is the case sometimes. So maybe sometimes it is not that I (the ego) doesn’t want to get better. It is that some other part of my psyche wants to push us in another direction. I think that James Hillsman (one of my heroes along with Henri Corbin) made this point a cornerstone of his thinking and, by the way, even though he is normally a difficult read, he did sum up this worldview marvellously and simply in his popular book, “The Soul’s Code”.
typo above, should read: in order to force the ego to give up its goals
This is interesting. I think sickness can be a major warning sign/game changer in our lives. I think depression and anxiety are especially relevant here (It’s actually the main reason I’m not big on psych meds: I think they mostly allow people to tolerate unhappy situations, when ordinarily they would be forced to make life changes that would resolve the depression or anxiety), but really, any sickness could apply. I’ve heard many cancer survivors say the illness was a major wake-up call that totally changed the direction of their lives.
That’s right. I understand why people take these things, so no judgement, but most certainly they are an escape. Now some people will tell you that a depression is so crushing that they have no chance of changing unless they take these drugs. However, I am not buying that. The truth of the matter is that IF you take these drugs and IF they work (want to emphasize the IF), are you really going to make any changes? I don’t think so. Most of the time, you’ll go back to business as usual.
But here’s another point worth considering. If we admit that the psyche extends beyond our ego, then we have to allow that our psyche might extend into the world as a whole. If that is true, then given the destruction being inflicted upon our environment, why wouldn’t we all be at least a little depressed? In other words, the depression might not be treated just by fixing what we normally call “myself”. It would have to treat an entity much larger than myself.
I basically agree with both of your takes on the drug part. I’ve taken a lot of flack from people for being of the mind set that your garden variety mental illnesses (depression, anxiety) are not usually random defects in the systems, but rather, the result of choices and lifestyle. I would look at my friend’s mothers who were going on Zoloft and wonder why they didn’t just leave their crappy husbands and go try something else, rather than make where they are tolerable.
That being said, I do think that the body and brain can be a runaway train and that using drugs singularly for the purpose of putting a halt to that flow and gaining some daylight for clarity’s sake, can be very helpful.
Thomas, this is extra woo, but I think you’re right. Not only are we contending with “bad” things like the destruction of the environment, but we’re also dealing with broader change, evolution, the dawning of a new age- be that information, solar, energetic or…Aquarian….cue the music. Growing pains will come. How much information are we inundated with on a daily basis now that just a few years ago, we wouldn’t be privy to? Power structures are changing, the speed of information is changing, how we make connections is changing. We’re plugged into a lot of stuff that’s new to us, and I think we’re all feeling the ripples.
“That being said, I do think that the body and brain can be a runaway train and that using drugs singularly for the purpose of putting a halt to that flow and gaining some daylight for clarity’s sake, can be very helpful.”
If it actually works that way. Can you actually get clarity when your emotions are blunted? That is the million dollar question.
Thomas, I agree that the world is a somewhat depressing and anxiety-provoking place right now, and that is our bodies responding correctly, in my opinion. It’s painful, but it’s the right response because if we listen then we are forced to make changes in the world. We have a choice: blunt the emotions with drugs, alcohol, medications, TV, shopping, celebrity gossip, etc.; OR start taking some actions to change things, and make it a world that is no longer depressing and anxiety-provoking. Maybe this is a planet-wide wake-up call.
And that isn’t to say that sometimes a break of sunshine can’t help – I get that. I mean, a night out with the girls and a few glasses of wine can be lifesaving at times.
What do you think about bipolar disorder? My boyfriend has it. He’s very high functioning, but without medication he can go days without sleeping and will experience the extreme highs and lows that are characteristic of bipolar. The medication makes me nervous because of possible unknown long term effects, but he says it’s worth it to live like a normal person day to day. I can’t argue with that. Thoughts?
This is a difficult one. The question is, is bipolar disorder just purely organic? Or is it caused by some unbalanced relationship the bipolar person has with the environment around him? Or is it a gift but one that our society does not appreciate?
I don’t know enough about it to say. I can certainly understand why he would want to take the drugs though. What do you think?
Very interesting thoughts, thank you for the input. He said he knew something was different about him when he was very young, so I think it’s something he was predisposed to have (nothing traumatic about his childhood). It’s interesting to look at mild cases of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, etc as ‘gifts.’ I read about an author who wrote his best work during his emotional highs from bipolar. If my boyfriend doesn’t take his meds and has a ‘high,’ he’s very imaginative and productive and doesn’t sleep. This isn’t considered normal and he would have a hard time at work, so he takes meds. It’s okay with me if it helps him.
Medication does not deal with the underlying causes of bipolar behavior/feelings and comes with real side effects, that is for sure – he may be trading short-term relief for worse issues long-term. I think it’s everyone’s call to make on their own. The more important question is how YOU feel about signing up for the unknowns (and knowns) of both his condition and medication.
I agree with you on the meds, but what is the underlying cause of bipolar? I don’t think anyone knows, and that’s the hard part. How do you treat the root of the issue when you’re not sure what it is?
Yeah, it’s pretty clear that there are some genetic pre-dispositions, plus environmental and emotional triggers. It’s easier when the trigger is some stress or trauma, or medication or drug (which can cause bipolar-like symptoms). It’s a lot tougher, obviously, when it’s more genetic or environmental (like your mom having flu during pregnancy). Maybe one day western medicine will have an answer, but lifelong meds are very profitable so I doubt it’s a big priority.
Yes, Stephanie, you’re right. What is the cause? And sometimes it’s not as straight-forward as, “get out of that bad relationship.” What if, after heroically trying to go it without medicine, the problem persists?
Should you just bear the pain and carry on, or should you take a palliative? After all, your attempts to do it without drugs hasn’t worked.
I always have to ask about so-call mental disorders, if they aren’t disorders so much as society pathologizing differences. My favorite example of this is the son of a woman I worked with. Her son couldn’t sit still in a classroom long for any period of time. He got diagnosed with ADDHD. The woman refused to put him on medication. Turns out the boy, even at his young age, was a kind of mechanical genius. Neighbors would bring broken appliances for him to fix. Yeah, he couldn’t fit into a classroom situation. So what? Who cares?
Another example that has been raised is schizophrenia. Some have suggested that in certain cultures, many schizophrenics would have been shamans. I don’t know if that’s the case, but it raises an important question. Are these marginal states of consciousness really sicknesses or are they states of consciousness that don’t fit in with our paradigm?
This is so true, Thomas. This may be why evidence ironically suggests better longterm outcomes off drugs – people find their unique paths in life, which is more happy than the palliated outcome. Whatever your opinions on banks, people with ADD make talented traders. Like the boy you mentioned, the ADHD (non-medicated) guy I dated was amazing at fixing things also, and noticed absolutely every detail about everything – smartest guy I was ever with, and extremely successful, too. I could see bipolar people being amazing scientists or artists.
Absolutely agree. Behavior is only considered disordered if if disrupts, well, the order of things. Doesn’t make it bad or good, that’s purely subjective. Someone with a great amount of courage can allow themselves to be who they are and somehow create a life within the existing framework that lets them be that way. But for others, I understand why medicating is necessary. Belonging to the whole, being compatible with others, being able to support yourself by conventional means, that stuff is important to folks, and understandably so.
Yeah, and that’s the problem we’ve run into. It’s not that he has a strong desire to fit into the conventional lifestyle, it’s just a lot harder to break away from it than people realize…plus with a baby on the way, now isn’t the time to quit his job and explore the Amazon (his dream haha). Thank you all for the input.
BTW, also just pointing out that meds don’t always help people function normally. Sounds like they do in the case of Stephanie’s boyfriend, which is good if that works for him, but in many cases they actually make people less compatible with others and unable to hold down a job, etc. Many go off meds for just these reasons.
I think that you’ve brought up a definite possibility. Caroline Myss, the medical intuitive Julia referenced, talks about this a lot in her books. This does, in fact, seem to happen- that your perceived life “goals” are not in keeping with your spirit (blueprint, fate, true talents, whatever) and when you get ill and are forced to stop your lifestyle and take up another one, it allows you to manifest your purpose.
Eckhart Tolle also mentions in Power of the Now that some people become more egoic when they’re sick (the sense of victimization and self-entitlement that goes with it) while others relinquish their egos when sick. I’ve found in myself that I’m actually more centered when sick (like flu stuff that’s temporary, not the low metabolic poor functioning type) because everything’s out of my control now, so hey, what the hell. And when I’m well it’s much harder to witness without judgment. (I’ve likened it to a snotty teenage girl- I’ve got plenty of examples to draw on.)
I don’t necessarily think that this notion has to be entrenched in any kind of dogmatic thinking or belief. You could look at it as your consciousness or your higher self creating a catalyst. If you believe that you possess everything you need, then it fits right into that thinking.
Right. What we think we want and what is actually right for us can be opposed. Like the ego fighting the spirit. Or the need to belong with your “tribe” conflicting with your quest for a life that honors the self. Or a sense of duty and tradition conflicting with your true will.
FWIW, I found this incredibly fascinating:
“Physiology and Neurobiology of Stress and Adaptation: Central Role of the Brain”
Well, i overcame a not so great childhood by becoming self aware and learning from my and others mistakes. I have learned to accept the best people from that period of my life as who they are, and who they were and that they did the best they could.I have consciously removed the others from my life to my benefit.
I think in the US that we have the luxury of really over thinking many things and that we have emphasized the wrong things/treatments. I have seen a person who was wounded as a child inflict great harm on those who love her and are trying to help her. She is a manipulative, at times vicious adult who uses the wrongs done to her in the past as an excuse. (I have seen more than one person do this.) She is also in the mental health field. Scary.
There is something to be said about self-knowledge/awareness and just getting on with it. If you spend too much time dwelling in the past, you will miss your present and future. If you spend your life medicated, you will blunt the experiences.
So, I’ll probably get crucified for posting this. But I get really tired of the whining. Not all of it is whining, but alot of it is.
I agree for the most part. Certainly there is a period in which it’s probably healthy to take stock of our past, bring it to awareness, and do what we can to heal certain childhood traumas. However, for some people this becomes a bottomless pit. They re-hash it over and over and over again. In my opinion those who do so are re-living the experience every day and re-injuring themselves in the doing.
In addition to the points already made about “being sick creates a sort of crutch”, I think a lot of this has to do with a romantic notion of catharsis. Such people imagine that if they keep going over and over it again that one day there will be this wagnerian climax where everything will be resolved.
Of course, it also becomes a life-style. I recall that category almost single-handedly created by John Bradshaw who called themselves, “Adult Children of X”. Not only was being sick a crutch but a way of life. Whole communities of people who gather to talk about nothing but “their stuff”. Narcissistic, to say the least.
I relate with this position you described (sometimes/often excessive dwelling on the past), and am working at moving on from perceived problems and living life more fully in the present. Have found Kabat Zinn’s stuff helpful, somewhat inspirational in this regard, but still have a way to go.
After reading what you described re Wagner I thought that the mindset you describe almost has a utopian aspect – hoping that things become better and in some way (perhaps self-defeating way) that one can move forward through sorting things that occurred in the the past. There is something to this view too I think, just as you say, but as again it can become problematic, and seems to have been for me to some degree.
This type of perspective seems to involves one being unwilling to accept any problems occurring in past or present[ – I can sometimes continually go over things in my head, which is certainly at odds with actually living in the present and making the most of it all, however it is judged as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by me or anyone else. I think it relates to confidence, feeling able and desirous of taking responsibility, which can be worked at. This seems to be what Julia and you (Thomas) is getting at (thanks for the post(s) :) ), and something that I value for the reflection it invites…
Very interesting topic, indeed. I will say through observation that the mind and the body are connected, likely in ways that we do not understand scientifically.
I wonder how this connection impacts weight. Followers of Matt’s blog, books, and as well as YourEatopia have learned that bodies *likely* have a comfy weight, and will remain within a weight range suitable for their bodies with proper nourishment and exercise. Yet, I wonder– What about the brain’s impact on your body? Could the brain of someone overweight/obese be overriding signals of hunger/fullness by clouding it with emotions of guilt, reminders that they are overweight/obese or their past experiences/fears of restriction, and this is what fixates their brains in the pain/pleasure of food and skews the biological response being full?
I will relate this to having to use the bathroom. Biologically, there is no stopping the need to pee- When you gotta go, you gotta go. But sometimes the urgency is more in your head than anything else. I know there have been times, personally, where I REALLY, really had to go… Only to be distracted in a job, on the internet, and the urge wasn’t nearly as strong or uncomfortable.
After reading all of the comments (especially Thomas’) I think you all should check this out:
i sometimes think about these threads for a few days before i have a good answer. by then everyone has moved on. anyways, i want to say that there are proactive things for you to do. embrace truth and love whatever it IS. nurture your happiness like a garden. happiness is the opposite of stress, is the opposite of this sort of unwellness. quiet your running mind with tools like byron katie’s work. just BE. happiness has a representative in the physical world–the feel-good hormones. when you awake in the night after a bad dream, when your head hurts like a bugger, when your boss snidely tells you that you are fired… force a smile onto your face. you have sympathetic systems within you and just smiling will make some of those good hormones for you. do nice things for others. delve deeply into humor. walk the land and notice how beautiful and good it is. hug people. get back to the basics–food, shelter, water, fire and tribe. further your awareness of all that IS rather than the stories your mind evolves.
queenbee is that you binz?
I do the exact same thing, queenbee, it takes me awhile! I wish there was a better way to track comments or at least have a forum like Matt has been promising for literally years!
Good points, reminds me of this psychology experiment in college where we placed pencils on our upper lip between our nose and mouth and balanced it there to mimic a frown. Then we placed the pencil in our teeth length wise to encourage a half-hearted smile. Both times we watched different clips and then rated our moods and impressions of the clips. We rated ourselves happier and the clips funnier while faking the smile vs. faking the frown. Its not scientific, but I think it was based on a real study doing something similar. Now I do that fake smile thing when I’m having a bad day to help push my mood in the other direction.
I have been working a lot with energetic healing like this using lots of different approaches and the one I found the most helpful is called the “healing codes”. The whole idea is to heal the underlying stress (most of it unconscious). Basically when you heal the underlying stress your body can then heal itself. I was having panic attacks and horrible anxiety and I don’t really at all anymore. Now I’m working on some bladder problems I’ve been having so I still need to see how that goes. But seriously it’s been awesome. You have to be willing to look deep into the emotional memories and issues that are bothering you but it’s really worth it for me. I’m a lot closer to completely letting go of childhood abuse and other issues that have always bothered me.
Also you don’t need to rehash anything over and over. It’s not so scary remembering painful memories when you know they can be healed. It’s by Alexander loyd. If you look on amazon it has like 600 reviews :)
It also works the other way. When you’re in bad health you can easily get mental issues and feel anxious which makes taking full responsibility of you’re life just seem too daunting.
I think it is probably best to reduce stress, improve physical health/ metabolism etc and keep in mind to let go of the metal issues you use as a shield when you’re ready and feel strong enough. At least that’s what I try to do myself :).
This was popular in the 90s- the idea that if you don’t forgive and forget you won’t heal. Myss wrote about this and no one ever followed up to add to or copy her work, so far as I know. It never caught on with the public, who dismissed everything back then as ‘new age’ or flakey. The fact is, illness may be karmic. It unfolds in the body according to personal cycles. I had a phase where I had a lot of adult acne from PCOS related to my ED, but after a lot of years on the pill it went away. Now it’s my thyroid and age-related fatigue. The good news is, I’ve been led to information that has given me a chance to heal, and I’ve tried to forgive people also. Some wounds are very real and can’t be dismissed. You can’t “think” your way out of them. I personally could never have had any progress had I not started following a teacher named Elizabeth Clare Prophet, who taught something called the Violet Flame:
I don’t know if anyone will read this thread, I just wanted to add my two cents. I hope it’s ok that I recommend a book, I’m not affiliated with it in any way. It’s called “Why good people do bad things” by Debbie Ford. The concepts in this book and the way they’re laid out have helped me SO MUCH, and I’ve tried lots of different things.