A few years ago I was wandering a holiday bizarre when I found a booth where they were selling magnetic jewelry that was supposed to help relieve pain. I asked the man if he'd seen any success using it for Fibromyalgia and he said, "I've found that people with Fibromyalgia don't really WANT to get better."
Umm.... Excuse me?
I spent years buying self-help books and trying new therapies in the attempt to relieve my chronic pain and fatigue.
But then I never really stuck to anything long enough for it to help, so was there some truth in what he said?
I call bulshit!
The reason it's hard to stick to anything is because chronic pain and fatigue deplete our resources of self-control.
Last week, when talking about focusing on health rather than weight, a client said to me, "but the problem is I don't really believe that my pain and fatigue will be fixed by losing weight."
This made me step back and look at my own experience. I had lost 40 pounds and kept it off without trying for almost two years and felt much better than I had. I said, "I still have issues with fatigue and pain, but I'm a hell of a lot happier."
I'm more in tune with my body's messages, I have an easier time falling asleep and don't wake up every day feeling like a truck hit me and I completely transformed the way I eat. I'm also working on projects that I feel passionate about and helping others harness the power of their own intensity. Once I gave up the idea that I had to "fix" myself before I could find the right partner, I opened myself up and found a partner who loves me BECAUSE of my quirks instead of despite them.
My friend Kathy Carlisle once said she had been looking for something outside of herself to "fix her," when it really came from within.
Our western medical approach is all about fixing the symptoms, but it doesn't really get at the core issues that drove the symptoms in the first place. Kathy is an inspiration because she managed to heal from her MS diagnosis without medication.
If there's a drug that stops the symptoms, many people end there.
Perhaps that's why this man felt that people with Fibromyalgia don't really want to get better - there are very few drugs or therapies proven to relieve the symptoms so many of us have given up on ever finding relief.
Looking beyond symptoms, I've found a few core issues in the highly excitable, intense and/or sensitive people that I've worked with that may play in to pain and fatigue:
- The world is more intense for them than average.
- They have a history of tuning themselves out and ignoring their body because it's usually uncomfortable.
- They try to tone themselves down to fit in and not appear "too much."
- They have a strong drive to make a difference in the world, while at the same time needing extra self-care due to their sensitivities.
- Their willpower reserves have been depleted.
- They have a really difficult time putting themselves first.
Here are some things that have helped me tremendously in healing from within:
Become an ally with your body. In an inspirational interview I did with Anna Chapman, she said that she used to see her body as an enemy, but now she can see that everything her body has done was in an effort to protect her. I see that in myself after trying so hard to "fight" my body and beat it into submission. After years of tuning it out, it screamed back at me to listen. When I was asked to stop every hour and rate my pain and tension I was able to feel headaches creeping up my neck and stop them in their tracks. Even now, I have to remind myself to check in with my body and make sure I'm not pushing it too hard. When I am more in tune with myself, I'm actually more productive because I don't crash so hard as soon as I don't have a deadline over my head.
Get clear on your purpose. When you are clear on your life purpose and vision for the future, you can make decisions that are in line with that vision. It helps to bring you clarity and direction. You can move from beating yourself up about what should be and focus on what could be. When you have a sense of purpose, your passion and intensity can be channeled in a positive direction instead of spinning your wheels unnecessarily.
Do exactly what you want to do. When I first started my coaching journey I wanted to help women with chronic pain and fatigue issues improve their self-regulation skills so that they could follow through on the things that would make them feel better. I realize now that I was completely missing the mark. It's not about forcing yourself to do things you don't want to do, but about doing exactly the things that make you feel alive! In my post on energy balance, I point out that If we can activate our courage, spirit of play, self-care, sense of power and be mindful in the moment, our activities are a lot more energizing. If, on the other hand, we are motivated by fear, duty, responsibility for others, powerlessness, dwelling on the past or ruminating about the future, we are bound to be drained. This is why so many approaches to healing can backfire - because we approach them out of fear and duty.
If you are listening to your body and your purpose, you can find things that align with both and make decisions that feel good instead of forcing yourself to do the things you think you "should."
What has helped you heal from within?