Looking Beyond the Symptoms

Looking Beyond the Symptoms

Our health is one aspect of our lives that we often take for granted. This changes when we feel that our health is diminished in some way and we begin to experience symptoms of discomfort.Slide36When we experience problems with our health, most of us will seek treatment with the hope of recovery. We notice particular symptoms in various parts of our bodies, and so we focus on these areas to try and find ways to alleviate the discomfort.

Often it is the case, particularly with chronic illness, that a multitude of treatments are pursued in an attempt to both relieve symptoms and unravel the mystery of how we got sick, or ended up with a particular condition in the first place. What has caused my problem? Why did I become sick? Our search is usually focused around the symptoms and around the body’s physiology, and most medical interventions are directed from this standpoint.tablets

When we focus our attention for healing in this way, however, we are often missing the point! In fact, when we try to understand our physical condition from the position of physiology, in many cases, we are likely to be missing the real reason that our bodies became unwell.

How can this be?

Our bodies are simply the encasement and the reflection of who we are – our bodies of themselves are not us. This becomes most evident to us upon physical diminishment of a loved one, with the onset of a condition that presents as physical or psychological impairment. We know that we, or the person whom we love, is still the same person, even though the acquired disability or condition is manifesting as someone who may be very different. The body therefore, is not the true person but simply the outer appearance.

beach walkWhile we pay attention to treating the symptoms of illness, other factors that may be contributing to our physical state, and may even be the cause of our condition, can go completely undetected. The non-physical components – the emotional, psychological and spiritual – are often likely to contain the real reasons that we have become ill.

When we concentrate only on the physical aspects of ourselves for healing, we are missing a most significant part of the story of our condition.

We know that we are affected emotionally by our illness – we can be frustrated, disappointed, angry, upset, depressed – affecting our energy and pain levels – but we may fail to recognise the impact that our emotions and our past experiences have had in the formation of our illness.

Negative emotions and beliefs are draining and contribute to our overall condition of ill health. Even without us recognizing (which is usually the case), it is likely that our negative emotions, which are linked to unpleasant or traumatic past experiences, have made a significant contribution, and are even causal to our illness.

This does not mean that the condition which we experience as physical debilitation and pain is all in the head, or that it is not a physical illness at all. If physical and mental health conditions were ‘all in our heads’ and of our own conscious making, we would surely consciously change our challenging conditions. It is, however, important for us to acknowledge that we are more than our physical bodies, and recognise and honour that we are emotional, psychological and spiritual beings also, contained in the one physical body. We therefore cannot isolate one part of ourselves without the whole person being affected.

Our health is dependent on all aspects of our lives. Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values and experiences are carried within us, as are our muscles, tendons, blood, nerves and other body parts. Physical and non-physical health are intertwined: when one is affected, so is the other, and in the same vein, when one improves, so does the other.

Woman Sitting in MeditationIt is equally important to spend time healing the beliefs,feelings and experiences that have caused us emotional (and likely physical) pain, as it is to treat the physical symptoms of our pain, and it is often the case that when emotional healing takes place, our physical conditions improves.j0178460

If we leave out the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of ourselves, and focus only on the physical components for understanding our health condition and in our search for recovery, we are missing the whole person picture and denying ourselves full opportunity for healing.

Margaret welcomes your comments. You may have your own healing story and some insights to share, or some questions or responses to this article.

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