The Heart of Forgiveness

Iyanla Vanzant (image from Huffington Post)

Iyanla Vanzant (image from Huffington Post)

I just finished the six-week online course on forgiveness given by Iyanla Vanzant and hosted by the Oprah.com website. She is one of the amazing life coaches/spiritual gurus Oprah Winfrey has introduced to a wider audience through her old network TV show and more recently through the OWN network. I have completed my own work on the topic of forgiveness and developed my own forgiveness practice, and have used what I’ve learned to help clients struggling with this same issue. I have a couple of forgiveness meditations I play during life-coaching and/or Reiki healing sessions to help open clients to this topic and to open this door to healing. One of the meditations goes through a series of visualizations and towards the end of the meditation, calls for you to breathe out forgiveness. I was surprised to notice with a number of clients that as soon as they were asked to do this – breathe out forgiveness – they stopped breathing. That their body, mind and spirit locked down their breathing…like they were saying “forgive you, no way, I’m not breathing out forgiveness, forget that, I am holding on with all my might “. When I asked these people after the session was complete whether they were aware they stopped breathing when they were asked to breathe out forgiveness, each and every person was not aware they had stopped breathing. It’s an amazing testament to how tightly and closely we hold our hurts, our stories about what has happened to us in our life, and unforgiveness inside of us. When I saw the opportunity to learn more on this topic through a six-week online course with Iyanla I jumped at the chance, thinking it would be beneficial to use with my clients who really struggle with letting go of their hurts and opening to forgiveness.

From Etsy.com

From Etsy.com

My understanding of forgiveness has evolved over time. I can remember reading the Dalai Lama’s book the Wisdom of Forgiveness many years ago and struggling to understand how Tibetan monks could feel compassion and forgiveness for the military personal who harmed them and their fellow monks. I wondered how you get to that place. I later realized that forgiveness had absolutely nothing to do with the people who hurt you – it was all about you. It was not about blaming or being vindicated but about acknowledging, releasing and finding your peace independent of anyone else. As I developed my own forgiveness practice and discovered a healed and neutral state of mind with old hurts, I also came to understand that you really had to be ready to surrender and be tired or sick enough of your story in order to be ready to forgive. That you had to get to that point where you really were so very tired of reliving the past, the hurts, the pain, going back there again and again, and defining yourself by your past and story, and that you were truly willing to surrender and change. Forgiveness work ventures into some uncomfortable territory dealing with an unearthing old feelings, memories, and triggers your ego, so in order to be willing to go there and be in that space you have to be sufficiently motivated by your goal of healing and learning to see your life through different eyes.

With my healing practice, I encounter people who cling strongly to their stories of what happened to them, defining themselves by their wounds and their past, instead of who they currently are. It’s our ego’s way of trying to protect us from similar hurts and taking us out of the present moment and getting us to believe that our past is more important than where we are right now. Of course what is interesting is how despite the seemingly protective nature of this mechanism, we end up repeating the pattern of our hurts over and over again when we hold onto unforgiveness, attracting the same hurts or types of people into our lives, allowing the same unhealthy behaviors into our life, and reliving and re-experiencing the same emotional hurts again and again.

So I embarked on this course believing that this work would be of benefit to me as a healer and life coach when working with my clients. I am a pretty self-aware person and have done quite a bit of forgiveness work and wasn’t at Stage One but of course found I had more uncovering and releasing to do to let some old wounds heal. As someone who has completed previous work and guided clients on this topic, I thought I would share my perspectives on forgiveness after completing this course. I would also like to share some of my favorite messages from this course that may inspire you, a reader looking for more on this topic, or one of my clients who is starting to work on or just struggling with the task of forgiveness.

My Viewpoints on Forgiveness

I have always loved Oprah Winfrey’s definition of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.”

That I believe is at the heart of forgiveness. Letting go of the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish and torture of thinking about why did this happen, how could this have happened to me, how would my life have turned out differently if this didn’t happen to me, how could have I prevented this, or why didn’t anyone help me, and so on..”. Those thoughts just deepen the pain we experience.
In the forgiveness course, Iyanla shared the Byron Katie principle that “to deny reality, is to create suffering”. Byron Katie’s book “Loving What Is” helps guide the reader, by sharing many examples we can relate to of how when we project our beliefs and ideas of how people and the world should work or how we were wronged or treated unfairly, we create suffering for ourselves. Instead we can choose to love what is and understand that other people have different values and different ways of viewing situations and the world than we do. What unnecessary struggle and pain we create when we deny who people or situations really are or were . This concept also ties into Oprah’s definition of forgiveness, that to not accept what happened or wish it would have happened differently, just creates suffering….for you. Not for the person or people who hurt you, but for you.

forgiveness quoteNow forgiveness work is not for the faint of heart. The C.S. Lewis quote above is so true. To do this work you need to be brutally honest with yourself and not deny the reality of what happened in your life, your role in things, your beliefs, judgments, and decisions that led you down your path. If we are just starting this work we may be in denial of what we experienced not wanting to label people in our life as “bad”. Often, we have a strong tendency to grasp tightly onto our hurts and upsets in our life, filled with a fear of letting go of them and also with a fear of facing them head on. We think that if we let go of our upsets that it will lessen or invalidate what we experienced; or, we think that if we are giving in and giving up our feelings and beliefs of being wronged, that we are somehow condoning what a person or people did to us. There is also an internal struggle with our ego – a perceived risk that we will have no idea who we are anymore if we let go of our hurts and upsets because we (our ego) defines ourselves so strongly by them . Why is it that we think by holding onto and defining ourselves by our hurts, waving it like a flag proudly, that it affects or has any impact on the people who hurt us? After they hurt us, they moved on, while we go on to continue with suffering from what happened and re-experience the hurt. We seek outside validation, sharing our story, feeding off of reactions and validation that what happened to us was horrible, gaining sympathy, or resonance. But what if instead you just released your story, took the lessons from it and saw how they molded you into the person you are today, this strong, resilient person (even if you don’t see that) who survived their past, and started living in the present as the you of today – not who you were yesterday. How exciting and freeing that would be to start to embrace life from a point of excitement of not knowing what was around the corner and being delighted rather than scared of that – trusting the Universe has positive things in store for you. What about just starting a new narrative of who you are now and throwing away that old story? Letting go of the negative emotions and energy that weigh you down and starting to feel the positive energy of life and emotions you’ve forgotten. Starting to see yourself in a loving and forgiving light instead of beating yourself up for your self-imposed shortcomings, limitations, or flaws or things you could have done differently.

healed_heart

Image from godguysandthegoodlife.blogspot.com

Forgiveness is clearly not about saying whatever happened to you was okay, acceptable, or right. People experience some horrific things in their life. It’s not about saying that you are alright with the people who hurt or wronged you. It’s about freeing yourself from old beliefs and judgments so you can start to let your wounds heal instead of keeping them open, and reopening them again and again, and experiencing those negative emotions again and again. It’s about seeing you can change by embarking on a healing journey of forgiveness and truly let your past be the past and seeing yourself and others in a new loving light. Starting to unclasp your hands from your story and open to just being present and just being you.

The process of forgiveness followed by Iyanla’s course allows the participant to review the upsets in their life and emotions with them, to forgive others and themselves for their part in the upsets, their judgements, beliefs, and to liberate themselves from their stories. It has a strong spiritual basis, which I love, including content from the Course of Miracles, and connecting with Spirit, shifting your energy, and trusting the Universe and your guides on your healing path. Much thought and effort went into the course content, format, videos and supporting materials provided in the online course. They definitely had some top-notch people working on the content and presentation. Taking the course, I was awed how I could accept the Buddhist concept that a thought is just a thought and can create suffering or eliminate it if you release it, but I never thought of major upsets in my life as simply thoughts that I could choose to let go of. What a liberating concept. I also love that there were six weeks dedicated to this concept and that it wasn’t glossed over. There is online access “forever” for this course, so for those who are just starting to scratch the surface, you could go back again and again and peel those layers of your “onion” (a great analogy for healing) and get more and more out of the process, as you develop and release on your healing path. Another amazing observation I  and friends or clients who took the course made is that upsets from totally different facets and times of our life, which seemed absolutely and completely unrelated, created the exact same emotional response – it was the exact same type of upset. Kudos to Iyanla and her team for creating such an invaluable healing tool. I know some of the concepts I’ve learned will be of great benefit to my clients and valuable additions to my daily spiritual routine.

A quote of great truth from the first lesson was that unforgiveness is an act of violence against yourself. That is not an exaggeration. It seems shocking but think about it. What does unforgiveness do to you, your heart, the way you see yourself and the world, and what mind space does it keep you in? Start working on forgiveness if you are holding onto hurts from the past, through a course like this, by reading a book (Iyanla has published a book on this topic), getting a forgiveness-based treatment (like a Reiki ties-that-bind session), or seeing a therapist or life coach to help you work through and release your upsets. This kind of work raises your frequency to a higher level so you can manifest more love, happiness, and peace in your life. You can start simply with just making it a daily practice to forgive those in your life and yourself for little daily annoyances or things that happened in your day so you start to learn that forgiveness really isn’t that hard and let the healing begin.


Embracing the Beauty Around You and Inside You

From backinskinnyjeans.com

From backinskinnyjeans.com

Sometimes when we get focused on our path of self-improvement, growth, and healing, we get lost in the process and the “work”. We forget that sometimes we need to let go of our “work” and just be present, and breathe and tune into the blessings and beauty around us.  My post this month is meant to encourage my clients to do just that.  To enjoy the increased peace, love, compassion and positivity their “work” has brought into themselves and their lives.  To spend some time just being in that place of awareness where we are really in touch with and can appreciate and take in the beauty within us, around us and in our lives.

Beauty can be found in the simplest of things and unexpected places.  It can be forgetting your troubles and watching children play in the park and tuning into the beauty of their freedom to just have fun, not censor themselves, experience life, and play (we forget that as adults). It can be going out and really savoring a great meal, soaking in the beauty of every bite and every sip and the care that someone took to prepare it. It can be going shopping and buying an item that you are in awe of the beauty of and can’t wait to wear, use, or display. It can be the angelic and beautiful people you encounter during difficult times in your life. Perhaps, you are going through cancer treatments and are touched by the beauty of the kindest and most compassionate nurses you can imagine – that people you don’t really know could be so caring. loving and feel for what you are going through. It can be waking up to your husband kissing you on the forehead when he’s leaving in the morning.  It can be laughing until you cry with a friend. It can be reading a beautiful story of how in a difficult time someone chose love. It can be watching a stranger being kind to someone in need..being selfless.

So as you go about your day, try to look at the world through eyes of appreciation and see the beauty that surrounds you..and notice it comes in all forms. Here are some images of things that inspire me by their beauty.

It could be flipping the page on your calendar and discovering an inspiring message (about beauty).

thich quote

The beauty and art in nature is all around us. Sometimes it’s fleeting. Like a big yet fragile blossom that really is at its peak for only a day or two.

IMG_20130512_161846

The beauty you see could be a cloud in the sky or tree that you see an image in.  This tree reminds me of an angel whenever I walk underneath it.

angel tree

It could be a simply wrapped chocolate bar you open that surprises you with the artistic beauty the chocolatier infused it with (this is from Schokolade – a local company).

chocolate bar

It could be a poem a friend shares with you bravely sharing their writing talent and thoughts (on this very topic).

vanessa poem

It could be an unexpected beautiful gift you receive in the mail…like a big box of Christmas baking from a relative who lives somewhere else and wants you to know you are loved and that they are thinking of you over the holidays.

aunts baking

It could be catching your cat snoring.

IMG_20130915_000327

It could be reading a post that touches your heart and reminds you that there can beauty during difficult times. Josie Maran, a former model who runs a natural  skin care and cosmetic company, has a weekly post profiling inspiring people and their stories …that are simply beautiful. Like this one on a father who has terminal cancer and is writing a love note to include in his daughter’s lunch everyday until she graduates from high school. http://http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fon.mash.to%2FMV7NNi&h=SAQGkeC4Senc=AZPyKsNJeLB6DMnqtKxNmdDiXAwPQFz2U5PtQ7tsKqGHgXlZmlcXCG1EgE0KUi37sCNj_W_W9OFApq3TTBLs4nTrvh8A1kvD0-UUCOnxF9LAZP4fPlMhuoDWr_eB3n0G14FMdShd-Ci3IkSqUktZDGHF&s=1

dad with love notes

It could be getting snapped out of your thoughts  and what you are doing when you look out the window and see the beauty in the sky at night ..and realization of how our world is much more expansive then the room we’re in.

night sky

So look out at the world and see all this beauty that surrounds you  and celebrate it. When we tune into the frequency of beauty, positivity, and light in the world, we feel that inside us and we can then share that beauty with others.

If anyone has something beautiful they’d like to share let me know and I’ll post it. 🙂


Opening your Mind and Body to Healing

fibonacci-nature-body

Our mind and our thoughts are a powerful force that can influence healing in our body. We’ve all heard of the placebo effect in medical studies. A placebo effect occurs when people believe they are receiving a treatment but really aren’t (e.g. a sugar pill) but respond with improvements in health.  The conventional medical community is confounded by the powerful effect of what we think or believe can have on our body. We can also all relate to the physical symptoms or sensations we experience when we experience powerful emotions, like great sadness when someone we love passes or leaves our life, or the rush we get when we experience love for a new romantic partner or our newborn child. We’ve all directly experienced that our mind and body are interconnected. They are not separate operating systems. So why not use our mind and thoughts to send our bodies messages that encourage healing?

In my Reiki practice, many people come to me with chronic issues after they’ve exhausted traditional western medicine approaches for dealing with their health issues.  Understandably, they are often frustrated, angry, sad and/or negative about their state of health and are desperate for a solution. Often when we are in pain or receiving frequent treatments for a health issue/condition, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with negative thoughts about our health or have our lives heavily focused on what’s wrong or unwell with us. We may spend a great deal of our time in pain or receiving or recovering from treatments. We become accustomed to focusing on being unwell, talking about being unwell, feeling sorry for ourselves, and sharing our story of being unwell with others…it can become all encompassing and define who we are. I also notice when I work with many of these same clients even when they are making notable improvements along their healing path, they continue to put their focus on their problems and being unwell. Some of their bigger issues have gone away and they switch their focus to some smaller issue(s).  They are so habitually focused on being unwell instead of focusing on being well; they overlook improvements they’ve made and healing they’re experiencing in their body.

I believe our mind is a powerful force when it comes to healing and if we are sending negative messages about our body, outlook, lives, and/or selves it can affect us on a physical level. I encourage these clients to start to become aware of their thoughts and beliefs about healing and messages they are sending their bodies, so they can start to make a shift to more healing and empowering thoughts.   Here are some tools you too can use to become aware and shift your thinking to encourage healing and enhance the treatments you are receiving to help make you well again.

First Step – Becoming Aware of Your Beliefs about and Blocks of Healing

Image from Elephantjournal.com

Image from Elephantjournal.com

Buddha wisely said “What we think we become”.  Start to banish negative, disempowering and limiting beliefs and embrace the power of positive thought to empower your healing.

There are two approaches you can use to assess your beliefs and thoughts about healing. The first is a questionnaire and the second is a couple of visualizations you can try.

A) Questionnaire

Here is a series of questions that can help you see what your true thoughts are about your health and condition and healing. Be brutally honest in answering these questions. Pay attention to what pops into your mind first. Don’t answer with what you think you should say or think.

  1. Do you think your health can be improved?
  2. When you picture yourself in the future doing things when you’re daydreaming or when you remember your dreams do you picture yourself healed or in your current or even worse condition?
  3. Do you think your thoughts can influence your health?
  4. Do you think healing is all due to external sources (like practitioners you are seeing or treatments you are receiving) or can you influence your healing?
  5. When you are experiencing a manifestation of your condition (e.g., pain, need to take medication, need to go for a treatment to deal with condition) what type of thoughts and emotions arise?
  6. Do you become angry, annoyed with or hate that part of the body or mind that is affected?
  7. Do you view your mind or body part where you have injury or illness as an enemy/outsider/invader?
  8. Do you think you are worthy of or deserve healing and medical aid?
  9. Do you identify strongly with your illness or condition? For example, when you talk to people is that most of what you talk about or when someone talks to you is that the first thing they ask about? Has it become the focus of your life?
  10. Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
  11. Can you picture yourself enjoying perfect health?

Now look at the answers to these questions? What overall picture do you see – is it positive or negative?  Is there hope or distress? Do you see yourself as a victim who will never get better? Do you think you have done something to deserve this illness/condition? Has your illness or condition become who you are (is it the focus of most of your life)? Do you think change is possible?

B) Visualization Exercises

I often get feedback from clients when I do these visualization exercises during Reiki treatments that they identified a blockage during these exercises.

Exercise#1:

Healing Shower of Light – Visualize a pink shower of light coming from the crown of your head and washing down to your feet. The light you picture will flow through your body like a river, clearing away any debris and darkness. Pay attention to whether you see areas that are dark or grey or never get “cleaned” by the light or if you just can’t get the light to flow inside parts of or your whole body.

Exercise#2:

Chakra Meditation – Listen to this chakra meditation from the Wellness Experiment on You Tube.

 

Pay attention to what thoughts come to you during the meditation. What do you sense? You may find there are certain chakras you can’t visualize as being “lit up” or chakras that feel heavy or dark.

The inability to visualize these colours/lights in either of these exercises is usually representative of a blockage (unless you are a completely non-visual person). Sensing darkness is a sign that you sense you have issues in these areas/chakras.

Second Step – Starting to Shift your Thoughts about your Health and Healing

Now you’ve assessed your thoughts and hidden beliefs about your health and healing. If you find your thinking is negative and disempowered or you have blockages identified through the visualization exercises,  you can now start to shift your thinking to more positive trains of thought that are more empowering, enlivening, and hopeful.

A) Affirmations

To shift our thinking to a more positive train of thought regarding healing and our health, affirmations can be a powerful tool. Affirmations allow us to forcibly send new powerful positive messages to our mind and body and start to rewrite some of the old scripts and stories we have playing constantly in our mind. When we practice sending positive instead of negative messages we remind our body of its innate healing ability and the interconnection between our body, mind and spirit. For tips on using affirmations see my previous post (https://justbreathereiki.com/2012/04/25/the-power-of-affirmations/). It’s important when you read them they feel true. If they don’t you continue until they do (and use the lack of truth to alert you to your beliefs about healing).

Here are some to try:

  • My body is full of healing energy (you can picture a vibrant light emanating from your body when you say this)
  • My body’s natural healing abilities are turned on and grow stronger each day
  • The healthy food I eat to nourish my body  (supplements I take, exercise I do, fill in the blanks) help my body to heal
  • The cells of my body are bathed in  love and are clear of any negative energy and debris
  • I am vibrant and healthy
  • Each day I am getting better and better

Practice these at the start of your day or before you undergo a treatment. When you are in pain or a negative state/condition, pull these out and see if they can shift your thoughts and mood to a more positive place. When in pain, we can add an affirmation, “this pain is temporary and fades with my breath” (and do some deep breathing sending your breath to the area where the pain is, seeing it like a pink light, and continuing to the pain starts to subside); when we are in pain we tend to contract our breathing and taking big breaths helps to relax our body.

B) Talk a Different Talk

Start to change the dialogue you have with yourself and others about your health.   Talk about your health issues truthfully and honestly with medical practitioners – your doctors, therapists etc.  In your day to day conversations with family, friends, strangers, don’t have your health issue be the focus or the start of your conversations.  If you saw in the above questionnaire exercise that there is a strong focus in your life about your illness, that your illness or condition now defines who you are, start to change that.  Tell your family and friends you don’t want your conversations to focus on your illness – that you will share news with them when necessary but you want to start to focus on being well. Start to see yourself as more than your illness. Talk about the beautiful weather outside, a new book you’re reading, or your loved ones.  Start to break the pattern of your ego identifying you as this illness/condition or a victim of this illness/condition. Talk about any healing or progress you are making. Talk about how great you feel (even if it’s only part of you). If you have people who share your illness you may want to share what you’re trying to do and ask them to join you in your efforts. Recognize there is nothing worse than spending time with someone who celebrates your weaknesses or illness like a badge of honour and brings you down when you spend time with them.  Start to see the light that shines in you again.

If you have trouble finding things to talk about at first or it seems awkward, that’s fine. It will be a bit uncomfortable making that shift because sometimes we become so identified with our illness/condition and talking about it, we can find we have nothing else to talk about. That our health has become all that people ask about or we talk about that we lose our well-roundedness. Know that you will find you start to feel a little sigh of relief when you start becoming more than your health issue. Start to cultivate some new interests that you can talk about. Start to find some things that delight you or entertain you again. Start to embrace life again, even if it’s only for a few minutes to start. These new interests can distract you when you’re in pain or getting or recovering from a treatment that’s uncomfortable too. Start to embrace life again with your mind in a new place of being.

You will find as you take your attention off your illness and focus on the goodness in your life, the beauty around you, the people in your life, and being well, that you feel your life and your mood shift to a more positive place. It may take some time so be patient with yourself (and others) as you make this change.

C) See Yourself Being Well and Your Body Healing

We must remind ourselves that our body has amazing healing capabilities; that healing happens inside us, not outside of us. We can get outside support such as medical help, medication, and treatments to help us heal, but the healing happens inside our body. Think of something simple, like how we get a cut and our skin regrows and heals over a short period of time. How amazing is that?

There are numerous visualizations you can do to empower your healing. One big thing is to picture yourself in the future being healthy and healed (stopping picturing yourself in current or worse condition). Deal with the realities of your condition in the present but stop seeing your future as a bleak one.

You can become informed of your condition and visualize your cells, organ, part of your body being healed. Adam Dreamhealer has some amazing visualization CDs you can practice customized for various diseases/conditions.  Our cells are constantly being renewed, so start to picture the damaged cells dying and being eliminated from your body then coming back as healed vibrant cells. Send that message to your body.

You can also repeat the above visualizations you used to audit your thoughts (the pink healing light shower and the chakra meditation). See if you can see a change in the “strength” of your visualization.

D) Dealing with Your Emotional Wounds

If you carry a lot of emotional damage around with you and have a chronic health issue, seriously consider seeking professional help/counseling be it traditional psychotherapy or alternative approaches (like those discussed by authors such as Brene Brown, Byron Katie, Ekhart Tolle, or Brandon Bays). I am intuitive and an empath and can often sense emotional wounds/hurts in people when I am treating them, usually in their area of illness or injury. You cannot dismiss the effect of carrying emotional pain on your physical health. If you start to clear some of the emotional wounds away and allow them to truly heal you may find your physical health starts to improve.  We can hold emotional pain in parts of the body and this can slows or stop our healing. If you know you have stuff you carry around with you that you relive over and over, regardless of your age, do start to look inside and start to address the source of the negative emotions you may carry with you (grief, sadness, hurt, low self-esteem). Our bodies and minds are interconnected and emotional wounds can manifest as physical symptoms in the body. That’s not to say there’s not a physical component to your illness or condition. It is to recognize that being emotional healthy and healed can help us heal our physical bodies. There is work we have to do to heal that is internal and not always from outside.  Read the work of some of the authors I noted above and see if they start to shift your thoughts about who you are, were, and who you can be.

E) Have an Attitude of Gratitude

When we put our focus on things we are grateful for it shifts our thinking to a positive place (see my previous post on this topic).  We can end our day by naming the things we are grateful for…the parts of us that feel well, the things we are able to do, kind people in our lives, the beauty around us, having clean drinking water that comes from our taps, having a warm and soft place to sleep…. Practice listing 10 things to be grateful for when you go to bed each night.

F) Being Compassionate with Yourself and Leaving the Pity Party

When you are affected by an illness/condition you may have limitations in what you can do in your life and may not see yourself as “normal”. What we have to realize it that most people aren’t “normal”.  Virtually everyone has something that is a problem for them. You may not see it. It’s human nature to hide your struggles. People may have an injury or disease that’s not apparent, or mental health issues that aren’t apparent, that they struggle with everyday. You may try to do things so you don’t disappoint people in your life that aren’t best for your health or you may beat yourself up for having to rely on people or being a burden. Learn to let go of that and be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are a lovely being and when you are tired or in pain, know your limits and listen to your body.  Don’t do something to please someone if it’s going to mean you having to leave midway through an event or being in twice as much pain the next day. Start to listen to what your body is telling you and respect your body. Treat your body with care, eat nourishing food, get the rest you need, get treatments that help you and send yourself love. You can send the parts of your body where you have an issue love instead of hate, frustration or anger. Treat it like a baby you are nurturing. Picture you body and its cells being filled and bathed with love washing away any grey areas or debris.  Treat yourself with as much kindness and compassion as you would a loved one.

Now feeling compassion for yourself is very different from feeling self-pity and like you’re a victim. Think of what it’s like when you’re on the receiving end of these two emotions from another person. Compassion is lovely and pity is icky.  When we see ourselves as a victim and feel self-pity we attach to the feeling of being powerless, of being at the whim of the world, everything is out of our hands, the world is our enemy.  When you share your victim story too it can be exhausting and toxic for others to be around. People get addicted to being a victim and when the source of their victimhood goes away they just find another source. Compassion is about being kind and loving to ourselves and making empowered choices that support our health and well-being.

G) Seeing the Gift in your Condition/Illness

You may not be able to do this at first, but as you travel down the road of healing yourself physically and emotionally you will be able to see a gift in your condition or illness. Maybe you were a workaholic who was career driven and didn’t have time for your family, then whoa, the brakes were put on your life. Maybe you were not really compassionate towards others until you experienced pain and illness yourself. Maybe you didn’t really connect with your loved ones on an emotional level until you were ill or injured. Illness and injury make us hit the brakes on our lives and stop and look. Just like any crisis in life, it forces us to observe where we are and see what is truly important. Illness and injury can greatly change who we are, open us up to being vulnerable, being needy, being loving, being grateful, being compassionate and letting go of our emotional wounds and who we thought we were. Try to see if you can see your transformation as it happens or after it’s done and be grateful for it.

H) Be Open to Trying Other Treatments

When you’ve seen a lot of practitioners or tried a variety of treatments for a problem you can experience burn out and you give up hope. Or perhaps you’ve only tried only one approach (medication) so far for your issue/condition.  Always be open to trying a new treatment. If the treatment won’t harm you, give it a try. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right practitioner or treatment for our issue. There are countless alternative treatments and practitioners out there (especially in a city like Vancouver). Do your homework. If you’re unsure if it’s right for you, consult with your physician before trying out a new treatment. If someone has a strong recommendation based on their own personal experience, talk to them about their treatments and their issues to get an idea if it might help you.  Do your research on the internet on the practitioner (sites like RateMD.com and even Yelp have reviews for various practitioners) and the potential risks/benefits treatment (stick to the more reputable sites). Then discuss any questions you have with the practitioner and discuss the anticipated treatment schedule and effects.

It is a very good idea to stick to trying only one new treatment at a time; otherwise you won’t be able to tell whether a new treatment is having a positive, negative, or no effect on your health. A lot of alternative health clinics will have multiple practitioners and modalities offered. When they get a new client a practitioner might recommend seeing other practitioners in the clinic/getting other treatments. This cross-referral helps the practitioners expand their client list and clinic gain more income, but isn’t always in the best interest of the patient. Ask to stick to one treatment at a time, so you can figure out if it is helping. Once you figure out if the new treatment is working, you can always try another.

End Goal

The end goal of the exercises and advice in this post is to help you to shift to more positive thoughts so you can start to focus on becoming well again, reignite hope and possibility, and start to disentangle your identity from your illness/condition. You can start to see yourself as an empowered warrior instead of a victim.  Just give this a try. You truly have nothing to lose by starting to change and harness the power of your mind and thoughts towards healing.