story so far...
At a metaphysical lecture facilitated by Guy Williams, Guy made the
comment that most people don’t really want to heal. What most people want,
according to Guy, is to stop hurting. In Part 1, we met the ego, and discovered
that the most effective way of letting go of our limiting and outmoded beliefs
is to accept that there is no need to change these beliefs because they’re
actually working just fine. What we have, on the other hand, is the option to
upgrade our beliefs and to make more elegant choices.
For most of us, healing is a big, scary, and uncomfortable prospect. Healing
requires that we do two very simple, yet incredibly unappealing tasks. First, we
must accept that we are responsible for creating our own illness: Our thoughts,
beliefs, choices and actions are directly responsible for the imbalance and
dis-ease we are experiencing in our physical bodies. Second, we must be willing
to change our lives and eliminate the thoughts, beliefs, choices and actions
that created and supported the imbalance and dis-ease, replacing them with new
choices that support balance and health.
Taking Responsibility For Our Illnesses
The first step to healing is to accept that we created our illnesses in the
first place. This can be a difficult concept to swallow. So many of us are
invested in the prevailing Western scientific medical view of reality that we
can’t quite understand how we created our illnesses.
Most illnesses are caused by viruses or bacteria. If we catch a cold, or get the
flu, how is that our responsibility? Someone sneezed on us in an elevator, and
now we’re laid up in bed for a week. We’re so helpless against the various flu
strains that there’s even an annual cold and flu season every year. Every ad for
cough medication, every news report on flu vaccinations only serves to reinforce
the belief that we’re helpless victims of forces beyond our control. The only
way to avoid getting sick is to avoid human contact for six months of the year.
But what about the people who don’t bother with flu shots, and don’t avoid human
contact and yet they also don’t get sick? Are they just lucky? They’re being
exposed to the same bacteria and viruses that we are. How is that that they stay
healthy? Could it be that their thoughts support perfect health and a strong and
functioning immune system, while ours somehow invite illness?
What about hereditary or genetic disorders? How can we be responsible for these?
Or is it just possible that our belief in heredity is what creates hereditary
diseases? If we believe that because heart disease “runs” in our family that we
are “at risk” for a heart attack, how does that belief become our reality?
Of course, in the case of heart disease, there are so many other contributing
factors, such as diet and exercise that have as much, or more to do with the
health of our hearts than heredity does. It may just be possible that what we
inherit is not a genetic predisposition to heart disease, but the nutritional
and lifestyle habits that actually result in heart disease. We inherit behaviors
from our families as well. We’re responsible for our choices, and we’re
responsible for any dis-ease that results from our choices.
I have a friend who “inherited” a degenerative neurological disorder that
affects her feet and makes it difficult for her to walk. Every doctor she saw
told her that she would be in a wheelchair by the time she was 40, and there was
nothing she could do about it. She knew how her relatives had lived out their
lives with this disease, and decided that this was not an acceptable life for
her. She refused to accept the diagnosis, and began to explore alternative
therapies. She made radical changes to her diet and lifestyle, and very quickly
noticed a radical improvement in this chronic, progressive, degenerative
condition. According to the best medical experts, she shouldn’t be able to walk
today. However, because she took responsibility for her illness and changed the
thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that created her illness, she has been able to
Many conditions result from negative thinking and limiting beliefs. Unexpressed
anger, regret, grief, and other painful emotions can manifest as chronic,
painful, and sometimes terminal illness. In order to heal these conditions, we
must identify the negative thought or belief that is at the core. The challenge,
however, is to identify and release the negative thought without triggering the
ego. All too often, we punish ourselves for having negative thoughts in the
first place--we beat ourselves up for beating ourselves up. This only reinforces
the negative thought and destructive patterns.
We must accept that every belief we hold, no matter how negative or limiting,
serves us in some way. This goes for our illnesses and dis-eases as well. Before
we can heal, we must become aware of what benefits we get from our illnesses.
Discovering And Accepting That Our Illness Serves Us
Every choice we make, we make because it meets a need. We created our illness
because it gives us something that we believe that we want. What is the payoff
we get for being ill? What are we getting out of this situation?
No matter how painful or debilitating the illness, there is always a
benefit. Objectively, we may have made a rather unskillful bargain, of course.
We may feel that we’re paying much too high a price for the benefits we receive.
But until we identify the benefit—until we become aware of what it is that we
get out of being ill, we can never truly heal.
Healing requires that we identify what it is that we get out of being ill, and
then become aware of our beliefs surrounding this need. We must be willing to
give up these benefits, or recognize that we can meet these needs in less
When it comes to minor illnesses such as the cold or flu, often we get sick
because we haven’t been listening to our bodies. We’ve been working too hard,
and under too much stress. We haven’t been taking care of our physical,
emotional, or spiritual needs. The only way that we will take any time for
ourselves is if we’re too weak to get out of bed, so that’s what we create.
I have a friend who has a rather intense family history, with enough drama and
intrigue to fill a prime-time soap opera. A number of years ago, she experienced
a rather significant identity crisis. An inheritance set her up financially so
that she could do whatever she wanted to do with her life. The fact that she
could do whatever she wanted with her life meant that she had to actually choose
what she wanted to do with her life, and this created a great deal of stress.
She began to have anxiety attacks, and soon developed acute agoraphobia, finding
it very difficult to leave her house. She’s struggled with this condition for
many years. The payoff of this condition is that she has an iron-clad excuse not
to face her fears and do something with her life. All of her time and attention
is focused on her condition and her anxiety.
We may find it difficult to accept responsibility for having created our
illnesses because we created our illnesses to avoid having to take
responsibility in the first place. Illnesses and injuries are often cries for
attention and validation. When we’re ill, injured or otherwise in pain, we’re
entitled--and even expected to think only of ourselves. We are excused from our
responsibilities to others. We don’t have to go anywhere we don’t want to go, we
don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do. And we can expect other people to
do things for us and we’re under no obligation to return the favor. We can
cancel plans at the last minute, or even simply not show up, because we were in
too much pain to fulfill our social obligations--and we don’t even have to call
Within reason, we’re able to complain to others about how we feel, or put on a
brave face, enduring the pain (but also making certain that everyone knows that
we’re a martyr to our pain and we don’t want to ruin everyone else’s good time).
Either way, our illness is making us the center of attention, and this makes
deposits in our Validation Accounts. Granted, the deposits are very small, and
the cost is extremely high, but for many of us, this is the only way we believe
that we can receive validation and attention from others.
Healing means that we will have to give up our “special” status. We will no
longer be entitled to be the center of attention at all times. We will no longer
be able to demand that other people notice us and pay us special attention. We
will be expected to do things that we may not particularly enjoy, in order to
meet our personal and social obligations to others.
If our illness is a chronic disability, healing means that we will once again
have to work to earn a living. If we believe that the only way that we can earn
a living is doing work that we find repugnant and draining, where is the
incentive to heal? And, could this belief be one of the primary reasons we
created our disability in the first place?
Sometimes it’s more important to keep our handicapped parking privileges than it
is to heal and have to (or even be able to) walk an extra block to the
Please know that there is nothing at all wrong with that choice. We are free to
choose to keep our illnesses and our dis-eases. These conditions meet very
important needs for us, albeit at a considerable cost. We may not really want to
heal, and that’s a perfectly acceptable choice.
Of course, once we accept responsibility for having created our illness, and
become completely aware of the costs and benefits, we may realize that we can,
in fact, meet those needs more effectively in other ways. When we realize this,
we are truly ready to heal.
The Courage to Heal
Healing is a very threatening process because it requires that we make
significant, often dramatic changes in our lives, and change is always
threatening. On the most fundamental level, safe equals familiar. When our most
basic, physiological needs are being met, we’re often able to overcome minor
concerns about the unknown and embrace change without feeling threatened. When
we’re in pain because of dis-ease, however, our most basic needs are not
When our Physiological Need account is overdrawn, all of our need accounts are
put on red alert. When we’re in pain, we’re most definitely not feeling safe,
and any change will be a threat. To make matters worse, the behaviors
that we will have to change—often eating, drinking, and/or smoking—seem to be
the few reliable ways that we can make deposits in our Safety Accounts.
On an intellectual level, we may understand that the only way to truly heal and
be free of the pain of our dis-ease is to alter our behavior. However, when our
safety needs aren’t being met, we act on instinct. The very thought that we have
to give up the few things that give us pleasure makes us feel even less
What happens next is that we often retreat into victim consciousness. We long
for the magic wand that will miraculously make the pain go away and let us
continue with our lives exactly as they are, because that’s the only option we
can imagine that lets us feel reasonably safe. When we escape into fantasy, of
course, we avoid any personal responsibility. We also give up all personal
power, and lose the ability to heal.
In order to truly heal, we must accept each healing crisis as a call to
awareness. When we’re in pain, all we can do is find some way to alleviate the
pain. This is an essential first step. Healing requires that we address our
safety needs, and we can’t do this until our physiological needs are being met.
Healing isn’t about stopping the pain; healing is about what we choose to do
once the pain has stopped.
Healing is not about pain management; it’s about safety management. In order to
change our behaviors and allow our bodies to heal, we must learn how to manage
our Safety Accounts.
For example, we might have an emotional attachment to sugar. Anytime we feel
stressed, unhappy, or otherwise unsafe, we can always rely on a candy bar or
some ice cream to make us feel a little better. If we are at risk for diabetes,
however, eating sugar poses serious health risks. Of course, the thought of
having to give up sugar makes us feel unsafe, and in order to replenish the
balance in our Safety Account, we dive into a pound of Godiva chocolates.
The only way to break this pattern is to learn to manage our Safety Account. We
must discover other behaviors that help us to feel safe that do not involve
eating sugar. We can use the “Present Moment Awareness Safety Exercise” (see
The Relationship Handbook: How to Understand and Improve Every Relationship in
Your Life, page 48) to manage our general stress levels so that we’re less
likely to give in to our cravings. We experience the truth that we can meet our
needs in many different ways, and so we do not feel threatened and unsafe by the
thought of limiting or excluding sugar from our diet. And, of course, we apply
AWARENESS, OWNERSHIP and CHOICE to create new behaviors that support our health.
Now, anyone who has struggled with attachments or addictions will tell you that
while the theory is very simple, simple isn’t the same thing as easy! Throughout
the process, we also have to be careful not to trigger our egos (as we covered
in Part 1). We must take small steps, validating and rewarding ourselves for
each elegant choice, no matter how small, and avoid punishing ourselves for not
being able to change our behavior patterns instantly.
We did not create our dis-eases overnight, and we won’t be able to heal them
overnight, either. We must accept that healing is a gradual process, and in this
acceptance is one of the keys to healing. We generally do not need to make
drastic, immediate changes in order to heal. We can make gradual changes in our
behavior and our beliefs, and the more gentle we are with ourselves during the
process, the more successful it will be.
Healing does not have to be difficult. It’s just that for most of us, as soon as
we stop hurting, we lose interest in actually healing.
About the author:
Kevin B. Burk is the author of The Relationship Handbook: How to
Understand and Improve Every Relationship in Your Life.
www.EveryRelationship.com for a FREE report on creating