If you have a chronic health challenge, you probably have realized that there is no magic bullet treatment that will make the illness disappear. Believe me, I have often wished there were. Things would be so much easier.
But, then again, maybe easier isn’t necessarily better.
I don’t say that lightly. I know what it is like to feel broken and to want to be fixed and made well again. But when easy solutions are not available, it forces us to change and to grow and to think outside the box. In the current box of modern medicine, we fix things when they are broken. In fact, we excel in our ability to fix certain problems – especially acute injury and illness. But for most chronic illnesses there are no easy fixes. For illnesses such as diabetes, autoimmune illness, heart disease, asthma, allergies, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and digestive problems, the available treatment doesn’t typically “fix” the illness. Treatment generally consists of symptom control, and disease management.
So what do we do? What does thinking outside of the box look like? If we look carefully, we can see there are deeper root causes and contributing factors to chronic illnesses that have led to stress and dysfunction in the body. What if we peeled back the layers to uproot some of these root causes of illness and we learned how to shift at that level? What if we learned skills and tools that could help us heal even in the face of chronic health challenges?
Enter growth and change.
I’ll tell you the truth, the last thing I wanted to hear when I was struggling with my own illness was that I had to grow and change. I didn’t want to grow. I didn’t want to change. I just wanted to feel better. At the time it felt like I was drowning in a cold and stormy sea. My medicine was like a buoy that held me afloat. But despite the best available treatments, I was still stuck out in the freezing water trying not to drown. I realized that if I wanted out, I had to find a way to swim to shore. I had to learn how to do things differently.
One of the things I learned is that struggle helps us become who we are meant to be. Illness taught me how to be a better doctor… and really, how to be a better person. I wouldn’t have learned that if it had been easy.
Instead of resisting and wishing things were different, try just asking the questions… What can learn? How can I grow from this? Who do I want to be in the face of this?
Today, I am passionate about empowering people who are struggling with chronic health challenges. For the past few years I have studied the people who do well in the face of their health challenges and I have looked at much of the scientific evidence that shows how our bodies are far more capable of healing than we are conditioned to believe. I have found that people who get better in the face of illness learn skills of resilience and this helps them find the conditions in their lives that can make healing possible. That is not to say that you can make your body heal. We can’t force our bodies to heal just as we cannot force a seed to sprout. But by learning how to support and enhance healing in the body, we sure do increase the chances that at least some degree of healing will take place.
Healing in this way is not something that happens to you, healing in this way is something you nurture and create in your life. It happens one step at a time.