The Mental Health Place: Step One: Notice Your Beliefs
Posted Oct 07 2008 7:18pm
(Dr. Judith Orloff, author of Emotional Freedom, explores our beliefs and perceptions as they are connected to health and wellness.)
Who gets sick? How can we get well? Is illness simply a result of genetics and other physical factors, or does something else come in? Intuition? Spirituality? Your mind-set is the stage on which your health history plays out. What you believe is not of purely intellectual interest. The views you hold must be able to soothe you like a lullaby when it really counts. Its good to read books, attend lectures and workshops about healing, but in the end your convictions must get you through. Start now. Claim for yourself a sound vision of what health and illness mean.
In our society we’re too often separated from such harmony with the natural world and ourselves. Healing is something we do when we get sick, not a way of life. It’s important to articulate: What beliefs do you live by? Are they sustaining? Can you depend on them in periods of crisis and despair? Determining your stance on illness is pivotal, whether you ever get sick or not. Why? Because it crystallizes your priorities-not just about health issues but about how you face everything. Faith, courage, compassion, humor, intuition, hope-don’t wait until the last minute to find them. How you cope with getting ill is how you cope with any stress. The difference may be that when your health is poor, the volume is turned up and your limits are stretched.
Is crisis an opportunity, as the components of the Chinese ideogram suggest? Or is this only a rationalization for a situation that is really unredeemable? To clarify, let’s learn from intuition. It tells us that everything is not as it seems. There are layers of perception, meaning upon meaning. Talk about magic and mystery! Yes, illness is challenging, as is any hero’s path. What is being asked of us? All heroic challenges, physical or not, have one thing in common: a call for a heart. What I’m proposing is that this call is more important than anything we will ever do, the raison d’etre of being alive. Especially if we’re sick or in pain, the lessons of love don’t always come easy. We must fight for self-compassion and the intuitive link with a loving force that heals. Of course, none of us would ever want to be sick or in pain. But if we are, loving-kindness, in all its ramifications, will offer us the strength we need.
A healing life, in periods of illness of health, requires that you embrace a positive belief system. But before you do so you must bite the bullet. Address up front all the internalized negative voices that sabotage your getting well. Hear what they have to say. Allow the whole unseemly cast of characters we all know so well to surface: the martyr, the victim, the persecutor, the wounded child, the critical parent, and the faithless one. You must recognize your opponents in order to defeat them. If I miss anything, you fill in the blanks. Does any of this sound familiar?
Many of us spend a lifetime creating and listening to negative voices. Where do they come from? Why do they so inexorable persist? To begin with, they echo the words of parents, teachers, and other authority figures as well as normal individual insecurities. Further, body chemistry plays a role. When serotonin levels are low, depression can ensue. Also, our species’ history makes us anticipate danger to survive. In addition, we use anxiety to motivate ourselves or to defend against being let down. If we expect the worst, it’s harder to be disappointed. The problem is, we become driven by negativity, addicted to it. Consider the endless mayhem in the evening news. Finally, bear in mind that in intuitive terms negativity has an inherently noisier, more frenetic, and stronger charge than the more even, subtler signal of the positive. Generally, as a novice, you pick up traumatic events and emotional upheaval before anything else. Even in ordinary life our attention is compelled more by the train wreck than by the system that works nearly all the time.
As you can see the negative voices have many sources, much power. To exorcise them requires reconditioning your focus, replacing fear with faith. First, expose the tirade. Hold nothing back. Go straight for the boil. Charge like a samurai: lance it. In one swift blow. Second, summon every ounce of compassion you can muster to combat these untrue, unkind beliefs. Don’t buy into the fear. Third, tell these insufferable voices, “Thank you for sharing” and keep moving on.
I ruefully appreciate from my own experience how tenacious negative voices can be. They feed on our apprehensions and on the part of ourselves that is reluctant to be large. Just when you think they are gone- they’re ba-ack. Nonetheless, there comes a point when you must decide if you want a life that is fear-driven or one founded on love and hope. Establishing this premise is tantamount to bringing your healing to the next level. Remember, each gain will be incremental. You’ll catch the negative voices faster; you’ll dismiss them more quickly. Significant improvement, but its also true that the process is ongoing.
In all types of illness, from cancer to a cold, never fail to remember the mind’s capacity to heal, even what has been deemed unhealable. By lovingly learning to focus your intuition, you can strive to cure or at least improve any health situation. This brings us to an appreciation of a world where positive beliefs, emotions, and actions are prime factors in getting well, can even stimulate our immune response. A world where our defense against illness is related to a bodywide communication network we can take an active part in programming. A mix of science, instinct, and mystery, this is how intuitive healing can benefit you.
Exercise: Questions To Help You Create Positive Beliefs About Healing
*Do your beliefs give you strength during illness? If not are you ready to find ones that do?
*In a health crisis, what role does intuition play? How far would you go to trust it?
*How do you treat yourself when you get sick or are in pain? If you’re self-critical how can you turn that into self-compassion?
*Do you believe love can heal? How about humor? Are you willing to put them to the test.
FREE MINI VIDEO CLASSES ON YOUTUBE FOR YOU! Please check out “Dr. Orloff’s Living Room Series” to find out more about the special method Dr. Orloff recommends to remember your dreams and other topics to build the power within. Stop by www.youtube.com/judithorloffmd anytime.