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Chronic pain - Part II, The Dark Side of the Secret

Posted Sep 14 2008 3:05pm 1 Comment

Last week I began to write a series about my journey with chronic pain. Today I want to continue the story.

The dark side of the Secret - New Age guilt

One of the most difficult aspects of my journey with chronic pain has been dealing with the "new age guilt." New age guilt (the guilt people feel when they don't heal from a physical problem) is not new, but I believe it was bolstered by the Secret. This is what I call the "dark" side to the Secret (LOA).

I first came across this idea of new age guilt back in the late 80's after Bernie Siegel's book, Love, Medicine, and Miracles, was released. For those of you who aren't familiar with this book, Siegel's message was that self-love and positive mental attitude are the most important techniques in the battle against cancer. Siegel shared antedotes of people who had miraculous physical healings as a result of their mental and emotional work. Many people misunderstood his message - they believed that Siegel was saying that if you do the right mental things and develop enough self-love then you WILL be cured of cancer. If you still have cancer, then you must not be doing it right or you don't want to heal (new age guilt). Actually, Siegel's message was that positive attitude and self-love lead to emotional/mental healings and sometimes the by-product is a physical healing. The goal, however, is the emotial peace and happiness that make living (whatever amount of time) more enjoyable and meaningful. I completely understood Siegel's point back then. The idea of working for peace and acceptance made sense to me personally and professionally.

Unfortunately, I sort of lost this idea for awhile last year. As the Secret gained momentum, people became very invested in the message. Many people believed that if only they used the Law of Attraction right, then their health problems would disappear. They believed this to be true for themselves and those around them. I had people suggesting that I wasn't using the LOA right. I had some imply that I wanted to remain in pain. I resisted all of this at first, but overtime this new form of new age guilt wore me down. I found myself feeling guilty and shameful that I was still having pain issues. What was I doing wrong? How could I hold myself out there as an expert when I couldn't make myself healthy? I started retreating from friends and from the blogosphere. I was feeling emotionally down and physically in a lot of pain.

Then one day I listened to a podcast from Wayne Dyer. A women with some serious health issue was asking about the Secret and why she couldn't get rid of her problem. Wayne replied that sometimes our health problems are meant to be our curriculm to God. The light bulb went off!! Aahhh... that's right! I remembered Mattie Stepanek and Christopher Reeve. These two men are shining examples that you can be positive and happy AND still have health problems. Clearly, they were not failures! I believe they were here to teach us some very powerful lessons. Sometimes we are meant to deal with serious health issues - maybe a past life thing, a way to teach, or a way to learn important life lessons.

Suddenly, like a spring bouncing back, I was right back to where I was before this little dip. I was reconnected with the idea that the most important thing for me to do is find acceptance with my health status. I knew that I needed to find peace and happiness despite the pain. Having peace and acceptance is priceless. There is a chance that a by-product will be physical healing; but, if not, I will have peace and acceptance. That is more than most able-bodied people have. That is what I believe life is about. For me a life of peace, happiness, and acceptance is success!

I'd love to read your thoughts about this idea of the dark side of the secret and new age guilt.

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You state you case very well. There must be acceptance to move forward and have a happier life.  Elaine Lockard

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