Suppose you’re traveling on a busy subway and a man gets on with his two sons. The boys are running all over the subway car hollering, bumping into people, and bothering everyone. You finally become so irritated that you ask the father why he doesn’t make his kids behave.
The father replies, “We’ve just returned from the hospital where their mother died. I’m not handling it very well and I guess they’re not either.” Suddenly your assumptions all change and you see everything differently, and this makes an instant change in your approach to the situation. The particular condition or situation hasn’t changed; the kids are still running, hollering, and bumping into everyone, but now you see them, and understand them in a completely different way. That is the sweeping power of a paradigm shift.
Finding relief from your chronic illness requires this kind of paradigm shift, a fundamental change in approach and underlying assumptions surrounding the beliefs you hold about your illness. Typically this kind paradigm shift is not the result of an act of will, but the result of a life experience or a sudden burst of insight.
For more than 30 years I lived with a disfiguring, painful, and often septic case of psoriasis. At times the infections were quite serious. I saw many doctors and dermatologists over those years and I used many different medications in an effort to keep the psoriasis in check. Every medical professional I saw told me psoriasis was incurable, and I believed them. That was my paradigm. Then, 30 years into my chronic illness and for reasons unrelated to psoriasis, I took a different path.
I made a very concerted effort to start supporting the health of my body. In the course of making those changes I noticed, quite unexpectedly, my psoriasis was beginning to heal and the more it healed the more my hope and faith grew and my desire to support my body even more. Eventually the psoriasis was gone completely and it’s never returned. In that moment I had a profound paradigm shift in my assumptions about and approach to chronic illness. I now see and understand chronic illness in a completely different way.
One of the most important assumptions you need to change regarding your chronic illness is your answer to the question; “Why do I have this condition?” There was a time when I would have said; “I have bad skin because my Mom had bad skin. I inherited bad skin. It’s in my genes. I’ve tried everything and nothing works. I’m cursed. There’s nothing I can do about it. The medication is good because it reduces the symptoms.”
I had to change my answer to this question. I have come to recognize symptoms as messengers. In fact, I’ve come to think of them as a message from my dearest friend warning me of impending danger. Your body has a solitary purpose, to protect and heal you. Pain is a warning sign that your body is struggling to fulfill its primary purpose. You are not cursed and your food and lifestyle choices have the power to control the expression of your genetic inheritance. Medication at times can be essential and life saving, but it can also shut off the warning alarm of symptoms designed to direct you to take action to prevent further damage and promote healing.
When you adopt this alternative view of your condition your natural response is to ask; “How can I support my body in fulfilling its primary mission to protect and heal me?” There is SO much you can do to start helping provide your body with the raw materials it needs to maintain, repair, and operate the magnificent creation that is you. Have you considered what it is your body needs to build a healthy you?
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