With more and more people viewing both my first TEDx talk—The Shocking Truth About Your Health—and my latest TEDx talk—Is There Scientific Proof We Can Heal Ourselves?—it’s natural that sick people may get a bit defensive. After all, if I’m suggesting that your mind has the power to heal your body, this message could get misinterpreted to mean that it’s somehow your fault if you’re still sick, that you’re in some way thinking wrong thoughts or failing to do something right.
Just to set the record straight, that’s not what I’m saying at all.
I’ve been getting a lot of emails like this one, from Cathy.
What Do I Mean by “Healing Yourself?”
“Is there any way you can write a clarification blog post on what exactly you mean by ‘healing yourself?’ I have a number of friends who follow you and would listen. One friend just announced that she’s deathly ill. A ‘friend’ of hers is claiming that the East has ways to heal her, and that if she’d just listen, then she’d be healed, that Western medicine ‘sucks’ and the East is so much better.
“This is incredibly crushing to my ill friend. It’s as if people are saying, ‘You deserve this. You could cure it, but you just won’t think the right thoughts…’
“Would you actually tell a person with kidney failure that they can cure themselves and then not give them a Western treatment plan? Do you think that’s compassionate? I feel your TEDx talks contribute to this shaming of ill people, so I’m hoping the real revolution you can start is to help clarify what you really mean. PLEASE! I’m actually begging you.”
What I’m Not Saying
Oh jeez! No! That’s so not what I mean, Cathy. I’m sure you’re not the only person to misunderstand this, so let me try to clarify what I do mean.
Suggesting that the body has innate self-repair mechanisms and can heal itself is in no way meant to blame or shame a sick person for their illness. I would never in a million years tell a person with kidney failure that he could cure himself and then not offer him a Western medical treatment plan. Lord knows, I’m not telling anyone to withhold Western medical treatments. That would be flat-out malpractice.
If I got cancer or needed a kidney transplant or got in a car accident or chopped my fingers off like my husband Matt did, I’d be the first to fall to my knees in worship of the miracles of modern medicine.
I’m also not trying to suggest that anyone is doing something “wrong” if the body breaks down. Illness is not some punishment from a vindictive God. And while illness can be a message from your Inner Pilot Light alerting you to something that is out of balance in your life, it’s not necessarily some external barometer that something is sick in your mind. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Period.
I strongly believe there’s no place for blame or shame or guilt or faultfinding in any conversation about healing. I’m not suggesting that it’s ever anyone’s fault that they’ve gotten sick or that they’re doing something wrong if they’re not experiencing some miraculous spontaneous remission. In fact, I think suggesting such a thing can do more harm than good.
But I also think that when we focus only on strictly physical and biochemical diagnoses and treatments, we miss a potent opportunity to allow illness to serve as a vehicle for personal growth and spiritual awakening.
What I Am Saying
What I am saying is that we have the power to optimize the body’s chance of spontaneous remission by changing our thoughts, beliefs, and feelings from negative to positive, not just by changing from pessimistic to optimistic beliefs, but by banishing hatred, resentment, anger, and victimhood, choosing instead to fill our minds with relaxation, love, intimacy, creativity, sensuality, spiritual connection, and self-nurturing.
I’m not blaming anyone for their illness, not even those who smoke three packs a day, drink a liter of vodka each night, and pig out at McDonalds. Shaming someone who is sick only makes things worse. There’s really no place for such a conversation when someone is trying to recover from an illness.
You’re Responsible TO Your Illness
I like the way my mentor Dr. Christiane Northrup frames it. She says, “You’re not responsible for your illness. You’re responsible to your illness.”
In other words, illness is an opportunity to wake up, to take stock, to assess your life, to determine whether your life is in alignment with the truth only your Inner Pilot Light knows. It’s a chance to ask yourself the tough questions we often fail to analyze:
Are you happy?
Are you in the right job?
Are you in the right romance?
Are you prioritizing self-care?
Do you feel loved and supported by a community of people who care about you?
Are you free of anxiety and depression?
Are you eating well and getting enough exercise?
Do you live where you long to live?
Is there a song in you still unsung?
Is something calling to you that you’re ignoring?
What does your body need in order to heal?
The Whole Health Cairn
Illness can be a blessing when you view it as a chance to analyze your Whole Health Cairn, to ensure that everything in your life is as much in alignment with your truth as possible. The body speaks to us in whispers, but if we ignore the whispers, the body starts to yell.
Minor illness is a chance to listen to the whispers before the rebel yells show up. And major illness can be a giant wake-up call to get us out of our ruts and bring us back into our truth.
When One Person Gets Well and Another Doesn’t
So if the mind has the power to heal the body—at least sometimes—what does it mean if you’re trying to make your mind healthy, but you’re still sick? I’ll be addressing this question in Part 2 of this blog series, so stay tuned.
What are your thoughts? Is it someone’s fault if they get sick and can’t heal themselves? Is it unfair to even suggest that you can heal yourself? Does it put too much pressure on the sick person? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Trying my best to be clear,
Lissa Rankin, MD is the creator of the health and wellness communities LissaRankin.com and OwningPink.com, author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself (Hay House, 2013), TEDx speaker, and Health Care Evolutionary. Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself and check her out on Twitter and Facebook.
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