For the past week my body has been wrecked. I have experienced intense knots in my stomach, nausea, mental cloudiness, fatigue, congestion, cold sweats, and hot flashes. While these physical sensations are typical of a common cold, I am wondering if these experiences, these feelings, might be attempting to show me something about how I am interacting with the world.
Along these lines, it is possible that I over did it last week. Perhaps I taught too many classes, had too many social obligations, and I didn’t take enough time to take care of myself until my body said, “Enough! You will rest and take care of us. And I shall see to it!”
Wham-o! Instant illness.
A slightly related, and yet different, hypothesis is that this illness (and all the choices that lead to a compromised immune system) could have been brought about by my own fears and insecurities about moving forward in life with the wonderful things that are unfolding personally and professionally.
A few weeks ago, I read something that argued that many of our self-sabotaging behaviors – over committing to things, eating too much, spending too much, having communication malfunctions, etc. – are not caused by some malevolent part of ourselves that needs to be controlled. Instead, such actions are taken by a younger version of ourselves that is attempting to help meet our needs in the only way it knows how.
So for example, concerns about being likable spark this younger version of ourselves to overcommit to things in an attempt to be all things to all people. Likewise, perhaps feelings of low-self-esteem or low-self-worth allow us to indulge in that extra piece of dessert when we’re already stuffed or buy that sweater that is beyond our budget. In both instances, our younger self wants to feel better, and wants to make us feel better as it attempts to feel some need, and so acts in a way that although not in agreement with our conscious goals for our adult self, isn’t necessarily working to counter those goals either. Its just that we sometimes do things, however illogical they may seem to our explicit goals and desires, because that is the only way we know how to meet our needs and protect ourselves.
Under this idea, it’s possible that my illness and all the factors that contributed to it, were some attempt to meet needs for connection, personal growth, support, and increased financial stability. For as Richard Miller, PhD writes, our emotions, our feelings, and our experiences are messengers. They are here to help us better understand ourselves and how a particular situation, as well as our performance in a particular situation, reflect what we think or feel about ourselves and the world around us. The important thing to ask and remember is: Am I willing to welcome and listen to their message?
Take a few moments to simply sit with yourself and welcome in any thoughts, feelings, ideas, or emotions that happen to be present. Welcome in their presence and welcome in the gift of knowledge they’ve worked so hard to bring to your attention. Once you’ve had some time with your emotions, thoughts, and feelings, you might want to write down any insights you’ve had as well as thank these sensations for coming to you with the wisdom of their offering.