Emotions and Health

In my book, From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop Doing Life and Start Living It, I share how I found relief to chronic physical issues, by uncovering and rectifying mental and emotional issues. In my early 30’s, I experienced various physical issues from constant pain and tension to low immune functions and digestion issues. I thought I had some undiagnosable illness. What I discovered was the root of the illness did not occur in my body, but in my mind. It was my being in the wrong profession with the wrong goals for life that were the triggers for the physical symptoms I experienced.

During this time, I learned about Louise Hay who wrote the book, You Can Heal Your Life. I found this book to be eye-opening and the companion book, Heal Your Body A-Z, to be a go-to resource. Ms. Hay’s premise is that “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings. The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.” Two notes here.

First, I do not share this to blame or shame you into thinking you are responsible for all the bad in your life. I like to look at the other side of the equation. You have the power to create what you want in your life. If you find that things are not as you desire, make a change in your thinking and your actions to encourage a better result.

Second, the only thing I believe in 100% is that I don’t believe in anything 100%. I have studied and used Ms. Hay’s work for long enough to see a correlation in what she has found and the reality that I see with myself, my family, my friends, and my clients. And that does not mean that everything is the direct result of our thoughts. It may be, but at this point I see a correlation not necessarily a tried and true law. Even so, I see enough correlation in the mind-body connection to give it credit and use it in my own life.

Photo by Luke Braswell on Unsplash

A few years back, after many years of good health, I found myself having issues again. Being human, I first looked to my diet, movement, and age to see if any were at fault. Although probable influencers, I could not see a direct reason for why I felt like I did. Next step, I looked at my life. At the time, I was in a situation which was not positive. I believe we always have three choices when we are in difficult situations: A) We can try to change the situation. B) We can accept the situation. C) We can leave. In this circumstance, I had to choose option B as I had no power to change the situation and at the time, no ability to leave. The result was my poor health.

According to Louise Hay, my physical symptoms related to fear, anger and frustration – which very well described my reaction to the situation. I chose to use the affirmations recommended in the Hay books, take care of my mind, emotions, and body – focusing on them instead of the frustrating situation, and make strategic plans to leave the situation sooner than later. My physical symptoms lessoned under this plan and were removed completely after I was out of the situation.

Have you ever noticed a correlation between your emotions and your body? Have you tried shifting your mindset to resolve physical pain? Share with us here.

we all fail it is up to you to rise again

Oops, I did it again

Did you see this coming? I should have. Again.

Back in March, my perfectionist ego was triggered during the 30-day yoga challenge. To help create a daily practice of yoga, there was a contest to attend yoga every day in March. Those with the most days won a massage. At first, my competitive overachiever was triggered. It was not just winning, doing the most or being “the best,” but it was the feeling that I was a failure if I did not meet the challenge. Thankfully, after about a week I caught myself. Yoga isn’t about competition. Yoga is about a physical, emotional, mental connection, and a way of being which improves our lives.

we all fail it is up to you to rise again
Photo by Simeon Jacobson on Unsplash

Unfortunately, pride, competition, overachieving, and perfectionism are my life’s challenges, so I was tested again this summer with the headstand. At first, I set a realistic goal for achieving a headstand. I had a year and a half until my 50th birthday and thought that was a fair goal. I was proud that I did not push myself to do it faster. The concept of a headstand was the challenge and giving myself plenty of time to get there was in alignment with yoga. Instead of sticking to my plan however, a comment by the 20-something instructor that I didn’t need that much time kicked me into overachievement mode. Now the goal was to do a perfect headstand by my 49th birthday, just a few months away.

The yoga class I took at the time included headstands as a basic part of the routine, so I thought I would have enough time to master it by my birthday in September. However, I went on vacation for two weeks in July then in August there was teacher training at the studio. Not only was my morning routine thrown off and my daily opportunity to practice the headstand gone, but now the classes were much more difficult. I could not keep up with them and the perfectionist in me was triggered. I was no good. I should never have started yoga. Instead of quitting, I pushed myself harder. And I did what I set out to accomplish. I was able to do a headstand by my 49th birthday, but there was a price.

Because I rushed things. Because completion of the headstand was more important than technique. Because I was driven out of anger, resentment, and self-attack. I hurt myself. If you look at the headstand I shared, you can see I am in pain. The headstand happened, but it was not well executed and doing it caused damage. So much damage in fact, that for the last two months I have not been able to do any yoga and initially lacked even basic mobility. My routine changed from morning yoga to regular cupping and acupuncture to make the pain manageable. What happened?

What happened was that I got in my own way. I made the accomplishment more important than my health. I listened to instructors and gurus instead of my own body. I pushed myself toward perfection instead of accepting where and how I was. Throughout my life I have a history of pushing myself harder than is necessary, pushing myself past my breaking point. Because I push myself, I have accomplished amazing things. Always followed by a need for recovery.

The theatrical director Peter Sellars shared that his mentor told him he was bound to repeat the same mistakes, only in the future he would recognize them. So it is with me, and all of us. We all have our character defects. We all have the challenges we are going to be plagued with this lifetime. They will not go away. What we can do however, is notice them earlier and earlier, and choose differently when we realize we are headed down the wrong path.

What challenges do you continue to repeat? How can you approach them differently next time? How can you catch yourself earlier so things do not go too far? How can you cut yourself some slack when it inevitably happens again?

practicing yoga

A Bit of Self Care

I almost didn’t write a blog post this week, but then thought I would share what I am experiencing.

practicing yogaAfter a two-year hiatus, I started practicing yoga again. I love it. I enjoy it. It strengthens me. It helps be more flexible and centered. And, for those of you who do yoga, it can also be cleansing. After two months of dedicated practice, I am now experiencing a healing crisis. Basically, the yoga is doing such a great job helping me detox, that my body can’t keep up. My body can not release the toxins as quickly as needed. The result is a sort of a cold. Aches, pains, sneezing, and a host of other trying-to-detox symptoms.

At first, I thought I had a new food or environmental allergy. I tried to power through it. Then, with a friend’s help, I realized it was a healing crisis. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to label something so we can then deal with it? The first step to fixing issues is to step outside of the pain and look at things objectively. Once we can really understand what is happening and why, then we can address the problem and fix it.

The next step is to change our beliefs. At first, I resisted slowing down. Things are busy right now and I felt compelled to get everything done. But then I took the time to evaluate the responsibilities to which I committed myself. I looked at my to-do list and determined that no one was going to die if I didn’t take a day off. I changed my belief about what had to be done now and by me.

Finally, I granted myself permission to take care of myself in the way I was called. Friday was an afternoon writing for me, not for work. Saturday was my latest binge show (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), a nap, and the treat of a massage. Giving myself time and permission to heal has, you guessed it, helped me heal. The result is a clearer mindset and a healthier body.

We Type A’s, caregivers, and overachievers have a hard time with the concept of self-care. Taking care of ourselves is an afterthought, if a thought at all. We look at our to-do list and try to power through it. We feel obligated to perform at a certain level no matter how we feel. We are weighed down and allow ourselves to be defined and controlled by our assumed responsibilities.

What is overwhelming you right now? Take a moment to determine if it needs to be done, if it needs to be done now, and if it needs to be done by you. Release unnecessary obligations for now, or assign someone else to complete them, or release them all together. Then grant yourself a bit of self-care, whatever that means for you. To serve others we need to be at our best. Therefore, we have to ensure that we are the first person on our to-do list. Once you are consciously choosing your responsibilities and ensuring proper care for yourself, see if you aren’t happier, more productive, and healthier.

Become a Project Manager of Your Health

Visiting doctor after doctor, none could diagnose my pain. They would prescribe a pill with the hopes of relief. Finally one doctor, after still not providing a diagnosis, said, “Let’s give you a hysterectomy. Maybe that will help.” This experience led me to become the project manager of my own health.

doctorTwo issues currently exist with our Western medical system. First, our current system no longer treats the patient but treats the symptoms. Medications are administered not to remove the illness but to relieve the symptoms. Pharmaceutical companies market to patients and doctors offering quick fixes to our discomfort. Secondly, the medical practice has become so specialized they have forgotten the overall individual and how the systems work as a whole. These specialists have amazing knowledge about individual systems and their functionality but are often at a loss as to how the other parts of us could affect that system.

Because of this, whether taking care of a family member or your own needs, it is important to take control of your health and wellbeing. By becoming the project manager of our health, we link together the specialists, add in our own inherent and empirical data, and make lifestyle changes to reduce and prevent illnesses. Hire in the specialists when you need their knowledge, but know you are the decision maker.

Four ways to be the project manager of your health:

Know Your Body

When you experience a symptom, look at your whole body not just where the pain is. What other symptoms, large or small, are you experiencing? Our bodies are complex interconnected systems. When one area is off, it may be caused by something else – or may be affecting something else. I remember when I was having heel pain eventually I learned that it was caused by a tight muscle in my thigh. It I focused on relieving the pain in my heel, I would have never found the true cause of my pain – and it would have come back.

Be aware of how your unique body works. Be a detective of your distinctive body and its functioning. How do you feel after different foods? What happens just before you notice symptoms? How does your exercise or sleep affect your body’s functionality? Take the time to uncover correlations to help you understand the cause and effect of your discomfort.

Look Beyond Your Body

Remember to look beyond the body itself. The way we eat, exercise, sleep, move, believe, think, and act all have an effect on our body. In my own case, my inability to decrease my stress level was the key factor of my physical body pain. Don’t immediately blame your body or some disease for your issues. Sometimes the culprit is our lifestyle. Our bodies are designed for perfection, how are you helping or hindering this perfection?

The power in looking beyond your body to your habits and way of living is in empowering you to minimize or remove unwanted symptoms. If you always have acid reflux after eating pizza, try to stop eating pizza instead of adding a pill to your diet. The pill is only covering up the symptom and may be negatively affecting other parts of your body. Instead, try making lifestyle changes and see how you can positively affect your health.

Inform the Doctor

Doctors have degrees in medicine but they don’t have a degree in your specific body; only you do. Trust yourself. Know that you are the expert of your body and what is good for you. It is your responsibility to let the doctor know about other issues, other reactions you have noticed, and ways you have found to bring relief. Speak up and help the doctor understand how your unique body works. Remember that the doctor is not with you every moment of every day. Only you are. Your responsibility is to ensure all your healthcare practitioners are aware of your unique situation and needs.

A friend recently went to the doctor for an infection. The remedy the doctor prescribed would have been counter to the cancer procedure this individual was on, even though this issue was spelled out on the intake form. Doctors are human too. They may over look things. Be your own advocate and ensure nothing is overlooked.

Doctors are magnificently specialized which means they have vast knowledge in one area, but it also means they may only look at one part or system. Help the doctor to see the whole picture of your unique case. Just like a project manager, coordinate different teams (doctors) to ensure the project is being handled properly.

Look to the Long Term

In our current immediate gratification society, we often want easy and quick results. A personal trainer I know was working with a few women on their New Year’s resolution weight loss goals. These women were disappointed when they only lost two pounds the first week. In other programs, the women often lost eight pounds the first week. However, they also regain the weight as quickly as they lost it.

Our health is a marathon not a sprint. Short term fixes may also lead to fast-paced reversals. Quick solutions may also create other issues in other parts of our bodies. As the project manager of your health, look to the long term. Take the time to create a diet, exercise, and mental health routine which slowly and surely creates a strong foundation for your health. This may take longer and take more will power than simply popping a pill, but it also allows your body to health itself and maintain better health for a longer period of time.

Messages from a Near Death Experience with Neva Balduff

After a back surgery, Neva Balduff’s blood pressure dropped very low and doctors told her family things were grave. But not for Neva because she was not in her body. Hearing the words, “Let it go, let it go, set it free, set it free,” Neva then ascended into the sky. She did not experience a tunnel or a bright light. Instead two guides showed her the earth as she had never seen it before, an unimaginable beauty. She then experienced unconditional love and the promise, “My friend, there is so much more.”

headshot
Neva Balduff

Afterward she was afraid to tell her story. She was afraid of what her friends, family, and church community would say. In time, however, she began to tell her story and met others who experienced a near death experience but were also afraid of sharing their experience with the public. This event changed her life forever. It changed her outlook on life and the way she led her life. One of the ways it changed her life is she began to receive music. The music would appear as a thought in her mind and then she would work to record what she heard. This was just one of the ways there was “so much more” ahead for her.

Decades later her husband had a heart arrhythmia and fell. He survived but was never the same mentally. His could function in some ways, but his thinking was not clear. Like many spouses turned caretakers, the experience was difficult for Neva. All too often an illness is as hard or harder on the caretaker than the patient. She turned to prayer and meditation for support. Then she began waking up in the middle of the night with a compulsion to write. The words that came through her were not her own. They were a comfort to her during this time of stress. She collected these poems into the book, Uncommon Prayers for an All-too-Common Journey, so that others could feel the support and relief she did through these words.

Now at 80 years old she has removed all fear. She is no longer afraid of death as she believes it is simply a transition to another form of life. She still expects “so much more” and knows she will receive it as long as she is an open channel for inspiration. Her goal and wish for us is that we “Leave this earth more fully alive than you have ever been.”

Listen to this inspiring and thought-provoking interview.