By Julie Holliday
When chronic illness hits, it feels like our bodies are letting us down big style! All of a sudden we can’t do all the things we were used to being able to do. Illnesses such as ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Lyme disease have no problem stealing away what once were active and fulfilling lives.
Before illness, we automatically trusted our bodies to support our lifestyle, hardly giving them a thought apart from perhaps worrying about them not meeting up to the way we would like to look. When illness hits, pain, lack of energy and brain fog put self-image much lower down in the list of reasons not be happy with our bodies.
It’s not uncommon to feel angry with our bodies for letting us down. Added stress is placed on what may not have been a great relationship in the first place! Then on top of that, many of us find that we put on weight because we’re no longer able to burn the calories we’re used to eating. And if, like me, you eat for comfort, all of a sudden there is a much higher need for that comfort! Even when illness leads to difficulties eating and weight loss, that weight loss falls into a context of feeling weak and unable to do things, and is rarely a cause for celebration!
What we can tend to lose sight of, though, is that our body isn’t the cause of our suffering; it is just the receptacle of the illness. We have two enemies to fight, neither of which are our body. The first is whatever caused our bodies to respond in the ways that they did in the first place, and whatever imbalances perpetuate the illness state! Our second enemy is our thoughts about what we have lost, what we will miss out on in the future, what we aren’t or can no longer be! In fact, our bodies are doing their absolute best to heal us, given all the challenges that they are facing. To become victors in the battle against chronic illness, we need to focus our thoughts on accepting and valuing what we still are and supporting our body in its natural self-healing drive.
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The bottom line is that our body’s healing takes place only in a state of relaxation. Anger, frustration and disappointment all add tension to the body and get in the way of healing. These feelings are all normal and natural responses to our experience and preventing them from arising would be almost impossible. However, we can minimise them. First, by deciding to recognise our body as a healing ally; by making the decision to be on the same side against the illness. Second, by compassionately accepting feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment as normal and acceptable responses to your situation and by allowing them to flow to their conclusion.
Staying relaxed is much easier when see your body as your friend, and trust that it is doing its best to heal you. A profoundly healing state of peace can be achieved when you not only trust that your body is doing its best by you, but you also trust that your body has the answers. Its endeavours will succeed; you just need to wait patiently and offer all the support that you easily can!
I thank one of my clients for reminding me of this fact. I know that I achieved that trust the first time I recovered. Although now I definitely see my body as an ally, I don’t think I’ve quite reached that place of profoundly healing peace where I completely trust my body to be able to solve this problem.
I must remind myself that the memory of vibrant health is still encoded in my DNA. My body can and will flick those switches when it is supported and ready. Trusting it to do so is an important source of support. I remind myself that trust is about choice and experimentation. First I must choose to trust, and then I must experiment with it.
Whenever a worry or frustration enters my consciousness, I can tell myself, “Let’s see what will happen if I choose to fully accept the way things are and trust that my body will find the answer.” Usually this experiment is rewarded with a sense of peace that I know must be supporting my healing!
About the Author: Julie Holliday is a holistic life coach and writer committed to helping people overcome their challenges and live a great life despite chronic illness. Writing as the ME/CFS Self-Help Guru, Julie shares tips on her weekly blog. You can also follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. To find out if Julie’s coaching could help you live a great life despite chronic illness, book your FREE introductory consultation here. (10 available each month).