Recently I was in a meeting with two women who run a school for girls. They asked me to speak at a seminar about how physical fitness can contribute to a positive mental attitude in young women. I was excited to do it and our pre-meeting went well…or so I thought.
A few days after speaking with them, one of the women told me I offended her associate. She said, “She was upset when you said that we are responsible for everything that happens to us.” Apparently, this woman had cancer some years ago and did not appreciate the fact that I was accusing her of bringing on her illness. Taken out of context, my statement can sound awfully rigid and unsympathetic. But if she was really listening to me, she would have realized that what I was saying was empowering her to create change.
Many people believe that sickness just happens. They assume we have little or no participation and are just unlucky enough to be stricken by disease. As a wellness coach, I teach the opposite. We might not be knowingly bringing in a condition, but we certainly contribute.
From the physical, emotional and mental aspects of being human, all the way to the spiritual, there are many reasons why discord in any one or more of them could lead to sickness.
I have always believed that auto-immune diseases were multi-pronged. It made sense to me that we couldn’t find a cure because we didn’t have a handle on the cause. Some years later, I was able to sit with scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Labs on Long Island who have come to the same conclusions. These researchers spoke of the four factors of disease: genetic, environmental, nutritional and emotional. In other words, who you were born to, where you live, what you breathe and are exposed to, what you eat and absorb, and how you handle stress all play a role in determining how your body heals itself and prevents sickness. The experts found that you need an imbalance in at least two, most likely three of these factors to create a disease in your body. I call this “the perfect storm.”
So how does this discovery help us? It is exciting and encouraging news! Think about all the control we have over at least three of those factors. Genes will make you predisposed, but what you were born with DOES NOT necessarily dictate the direction your body has to take. Knowing that we have responsibility in the “getting there” of a diseased state gives us control, NOT BLAME. It helps us to determine our own destiny, not one that is somehow cast upon us.
Do you think you are doing everything right? Perhaps you are…at this moment. But now that you know ALL of the aspects you can improve upon, are there things you might want to change? For me and my disease, which is Crohn’s, there was unaddressed emotional stress from my past that was literally attacking my colon. At the time I developed the condition, I had no idea how trauma could contribute to disease. Do I blame myself for this? NO! But now that I understand, I am taking the appropriate steps to learn how to better deal with issues that plagued me in the past so I can protect myself in the future. At this point in time, I am living a full and active life without drugs even though I have a devastating illness. I owe this to my healthy lifestyle, but more importantly to my attitude and acceptance of my participation in the direction this disease takes. In the end, I have Crohn’s. Crohn’s doesn’t have me.
When it comes to taking responsibility, consider it a power play that allows you to be in command of your own body. Can we manage everything that happens to us? We can only do our best based on what we know at any given moment, and that is what I am suggesting. Open your mind to the possibilities and you will be amazed at the information that pours in. Take care to listen to the body you came in, and that body will always try and take care of you.