Finding The Meaning In Your Disease

This post will help you to look at your health condition in another way, by finding meaning in your disease.  If you have not already read the previous post The Meaning of Disease, then do so first, as it will give you the background to disease and meaning.  Then return here and read this post.

Look For Patterns

The word disease comes from dis-ease and can arise from a lack of ease in any area of your life.  One way to get an idea of what specific area of your life is contributing to your health condition, is to look at the patterns in your illness over time.  Answer the following questions:

1. What was happening in your life around the time that the condition developed?

Look at everything that was happening up to a year prior to the start of your disease.  Write down your answers so you will have a visual picture of it.     How were you feeling about: your job, where you were living, your health, your primary relationships, your course in life (were you where you wanted to be or did you feel you were not reaching your potential) or any other area.  Had anything changed in any of these areas?  Be sure to include what was happening internally in terms of thoughts and emotions as well as what was happening in your outer life.

2. What was happening in your life when the condition improved or deteriorated?

If your disease or condition, or the symptoms, have improved or deteriorated over time, or if it goes away for a while and then comes back, what was happening in your life at these times?

The data you collected from answering these questions can point you to areas of your life that you may have needed to address when the disease arose, and that you may still need to address in order to heal your condition.

Look for Metaphors

Describe your experience of your condition in one or two words.  For example, you might describe it as ‘crushing’, ‘unendurable’, ‘overwhelming, ‘exhausting’, or ‘heartbreaking.’  Then, using the word or words you picked,  ask yourself a question about where else these feelings have appeared in your life – who or what has crushed you in your life, what else in life has been, or still is, unendurable, overwhelming, exhausting, or heart-breaking?

The answers you get from this exercise may point you to unresolved emotional pain that could be contributing to your condition. If you find that you have unresolved emotional pain, then decide what you will do to address it.  Examples could be therapy, hypnosis, forgiving yourself or others, or some other way of resolving your emotional pain.

Another way to use metaphor with regard to your illness, is to see if the form of your condition is a metaphor for something you need to change in your life.  An example would be if you have throat cancer or something else wrong with your throat and you are someone unable to ask for what you want, or you want to speak out against something but feel you can’t.

Ask Yourself Directly What Your Disease Means?

The meaning of disease is often, and maybe always, to alert us to areas of life that we need to address.  Some part of you is aware of this, though you may not be consciously aware of it.  By relaxing and focusing inside, you can often access answers that you may not receive when outwardly focused.  So get in a comfortable position, breathe through your nose into your belly (both these turn down the flight-flight-freeze response and so are relaxing). and focus inside yourself.  Once you feel relaxed and inwardly focused, ask the part of you that knows to tell you what your disease means.  What has it come to tell you?

Another way to do this is to ask the question ‘If my condition was here to tell me something, what would it be saying? Then if nothing comes to mind, take a guess.  Often the first thing that comes to mind when you ask the question or guess at the answer, is the correct one.  Try not to dismiss anything immediately, however unlikely or unwelcome it seems.  Try it on and see how it fits.

Once you have the answer, then you need to take action to address the reason your disease is present in your life.  If the action you need to take is not clear, then again you can ask the inner part of your that knows what you should do.

With any of the above it is important to evaluate and not immediately accept any response that seems unwise or dangerous.  For example if you get the answer that you need to immediately leave your job or your family, then you should likely reflect on this, or talk to a trusted third party about it.  Though there are some situations in which remaining in a relationship or job could be dangerous and leaving is sensible, if you are being threatened or physically hurt for example, less extreme situations likely do not call for an immediate departure.

Use The Power of Your Non-Dominant Hand

Writing with your non-dominant hand is a way of accessing the inner self – the part of you that knows why you are ill.  So you can ask the questions suggested above by writing them down with your dominant hand and then writing the responses with your non-dominant  hand – letting the response arise as you write.  Or you can just do a free-write with your non-dominant hand, allowing information about your disease to just come forth without thinking it through before writing.  Either way is very powerful in accessing information about yourself you may not be aware of.

The ideas above are just some of the ways you can use to find the meaning in your disease.  If you try any of them, please leave a comment and say how they worked for you.

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