The big “Secret” no one will tell you about getting to the root cause of disease
Are you struggling with a physical ailment or disease that’s interfering with your life, but without any apparent cause?
Sometimes medicine may cover it up or help a bit (or not), but it’s something that just won’t quit? There’s a unique frustration when it feels like you’ve explored every avenue to fix what’s gone wrong with your body, but there doesn’t seem to be anything “wrong.”
You google it, go to the doctor. And when you get the test results back from the doctor, they say everything looks normal, but you know it’s not. The doctor may use words like “idiopathic” as the cause, which is just a big word for an unknown cause. You’re in pain or some other state of dis-ease and your frustration level is at a 10 out of 10 intensity because you don’t know what’s going on or what else to do. I’ve been there too, and it’s more common than you might think.
For context, my frustration level with that job was at a peak as I went to this doc who had little to offer in the way of empathy or awareness of things outside of his hyper rational medical training. I think this was my second visit with him, and he told me I had to get a steroid-cortisone shot. And so, following his advice, I did. The pain at the moment of the insertion of the needle into my knee was excruciating. I cried out in pain with a crescendo of pain on so many levels colliding invisibly in that moment in his office. I read the nurse’s and the doctor’s bewildered faces and uncomfortable shifting eyes — their expressions so clearly showing me how out of context they deemed my outburst. The nurse mumbled something about not ever seeing anyone react that way to a shot. At the time, this indicated to me how much further outside of the norm I was — how my pain was not only out of context for the procedure, the pain I felt was unacceptable and I made others uncomfortable by having it.
It was several years ago now when I was limping across the seemingly endless parking lot to my car from the event venue where my company was having their yearly kickoff. I was limping because my knee had been in unrelenting pain for months now. And the part of my job setting up at the event venue that day, with walking and carrying things long distances, was only making it worse.
I was actually leaving early to go to an orthopedic doctor, this being the 2nd doctor of what turned out to be a long series of doctors and practitioners I went to see for help (who never quite seemed to have the knowledge or medicine that I needed).
The physical pain in my knee that day being met without understanding or care was like a metaphor for the ways I had been betraying myself, ignoring and deeming my own emotional pain as inappropriate and inconvenient. I had been holding back an impressive amount of the suffering and pain of my own lived experience in a job that I hated that felt at odds with who I really was.
Which leads me to the moment in my car after the shot, where I just broke down and sobbed. I just let the full damn of my emotions go, egged on by the very real physical pain in my knee, that was even worse than before now. “Well, that’s what I get for not listening to myself,” I thought, rather truthfully, but also not too kindly with myself yet.
So it was in this breakdown moment in the car, where it felt like I could not ignore the truth of my situation any longer that I could suddenly understand part of what the pain in my knee was telling me. And that was that the way I was living, particularly around my work and work relationships — the suffering in the silencing of myself, the suppression of the festering anger and resentment at my unlived potential, the unrelenting feeling of wasting my time on this earth — all of it came to a head in that painful moment. And I just knew the truth. My knee was the poor messenger saying “NO!” loud and clear to the unhappy and painful life I had created and had been unwilling to look at.
Metaphysical causes of pain and illness
My body had been sending me messages, and I knew at a deeper level what was going on, but I didn’t want to see it, so it got louder. Being sensitive, my body often acts as my truth-teller or barometer for the weather of my life. The visceral, felt sense of being within my body keeps me honest with and authentic to myself.
Do you also have pain or unresolved physical illness that conventional medicine hasn’t been able to resolve? I’ve found that while conventional medicine and even functional medicine is great for the acute illness or injury or things that are purely biological in nature, it’s success isn’t as great when it comes to chronic issues or matters of the heart, mind or spirit.
Our body as a feedback mechanism may seem a little weird at first, but it can be a call into the journey to the exact “medicine” and healing that you need to do in your life on a deeper mental, emotional, spiritual level. We are whole beings, not just physical bodies to carry around our thinking heads, and sometimes our bodies know more than we think, even before we “know it” at a mental level.
This “not knowing” what your symptoms or pain are about, no doctor being able to identify what’s gone wrong exactly or why, and not being able to get relief from any of the common western treatments — all of this is emotional, mental pain manifesting as physical pain. If you have unexplained pain that won’t go away, you’re likely dealing with a metaphysical cause that can’t be resolved through physical means alone. This is your mind-body connection at work, your higher consciousness getting your attention that you are veering too far out of alignment with who you are.
Reconnecting with yourself
And there in begins the solution, which is the work of listening to and reconnecting with the messages that your body is sending you — about your place in the world and how you move through it, your relationships to others, how you express yourself, where your energy is going on a daily basis and how you use it.
Cultural ways of thinking about illness that can block healing
Central to addressing unresolved pain or disease with an unknown cause is reframing your mindset around the issue. What I mean by mindset is how we fundamentally look at illness, pain, and disease when we experience it. We’re conditioned from conventional, allopathic medical care to use language like “battling disease” and the reflex and urge is to run to fix it. But the way conventional medicine typically fixes things is through cutting out, burning, killing, or numbing things within the body through drugs or surgery. So we treat symptoms through fighting or suppressing them, without looking at the deeper meaning around why we got sick or why now. We wage war against disease, which is also war against the body. Our body’s, imperfect as they are, are designed to heal on their own. When we cut ourselves, we clean the wound, but the body does the rest of the work. There’s not really a clear, useful western medical equivalent for chronic illnesses to acute conditions and so we must go beyond this if we truly want to heal.
Another way of thinking that works with your body and not against it
There’s another (potentially higher) way of thinking around the disease in your body. And that way is to be in relationship with the symptoms in a way that appreciates it for the messenger that it is and allows it to have it’s voice and place at the table. Hearing your body’s messages begins with cracking open the door when the body knocks. Since it has shown up, you listen to what it has to say. Having this conversation can be transformative for understanding the underpinnings of why this disease or problem has shown up in your life at this moment.
Consider that if you feel like your body has betrayed you, that there is already a deep divide that needs to be explored and mended to begin to heal. And it requires a giant step away from giving away our power to a doctor and acknowledging that our body and our health is our own and we know ourselves best. Which doesn’t mean not working with a doctor, just that we do so with eyes wide open and knowing that we are the ultimate authority of our life. That we begin to look at the situation as a potential doorway to higher awareness and an opportunity to do something differently.
So a significant first step to reconnecting with yourself can simply be reframing the way you approach the symptoms of your sweet body, who is just trying to help you.
If your typical mental story around your health goes something like, “my body is the enemy,” then what might it feel like to try on a different story like, “my body is a messenger?”
While no one wants to wallow in pain or dysfunction, taking the time to befriend what’s going on, allow for it, give it it’s space is huge. What we resist persists. So allowing, meeting, and even welcoming whatever’s gone “wrong’’ for you and is present in your body in real-time is often the first necessary step to begin healing.
We need to step away from the quick fix of a pill for every ill when it isn’t working. Taking a step back to shift into a contemplative or receptive mode and see things as they really are with a wider scope or perspective can be just the thing you need to eventually step forward in the most empowered way for you to and get on the path to true healing faster.