When you experience an unpleasant physical symptom, it’s easy to get frustrated or impatient. You’re not feeling good, and you want to get rid of that symptom as soon as possible. And in today’s world, the average person has a gigantic arsenal of weapons with which to attack the “enemy,” the headache, the cough, the upset stomach, or whatever the symptom might be. But when we grab the big guns at the first sign of discomfort, we sometimes overlook the real reason why our symptom is showing up in the first place. In this illuminating new video from IPEtv, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, explains why we should spend a little time listening to our symptoms before we try to eliminate them. When you start listening to the messages that your body brings you in the form of symptoms, you might be surprised to find some unexpected gifts hidden in these humble packages. Tune in now and begin to see your symptoms in a whole new light.
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here’s what I’d love to talk to you about: symptoms are sacred.
Now, usually we see our symptoms, whatever they may be—your cough, your cold, your flu, your headache, your this, your that, your digestion, your fatigue—we see them as a nuisance that you need to get rid of because they’re getting in the way. And they are a nuisance. And you do need to get rid of it.
They could be annoying.
Now, most of us were taught to deal with these health challenges by medicating them. So there’s some kind of over-the-counter thing, there’s some kind of prescription thing you should do. You’ve got to fix this because it’s in the way.
And what I want to say is yes, I agree. But let’s put a big AND there. And sometimes we need another perspective, because life is multidimensional. So we need to look at the beautiful jewel from all different angles. Here’s what I mean.
Illness brings us face to face with our humanity.
It shows us without any doubt our vulnerability, our mortality, just the little things that we can’t get rid of, the aches, the pains, the arthritis.
We’re frail and fragile. And life is precious. And illness in many ways can bring out the best in us. It can bring out the worst in us and everything in between. And illness also, symptoms, it confronts us with the great mystery because we’re not in control. And when I say mystery, I mean mystery with a capital M. There are certain things in life that bring us to a place where we have to admit we don’t know what’s going on. We’re not in charge. There’s something much greater going on.
And when we understand that there is a greater intelligence that’s driving the whole show, on a certain level we can start to relax. Illness and our attempts to heal often brings us into the realm of, let’s call it the religious, the spiritual, the sacred. Use whatever terms you like here.
Now, check it out. When we go back into history, you look at the mystic tradition, the Greeks, mystic Christians, mystic Jews, Sufi tradition in Islam and others, there’s this beautiful story you start to hear that’s cross-cultural.
And it goes something like this: every symptom, every disease, every unwanted habit was seen as something sacred.
It was considered a visitation from your guardian angel. And the angel in this case is always trying to deliver a message to you, a teaching, and wisdom that’s important for our growth.
Now, when you could hear that angel whispering in your ear, when you can embrace the message and learn the lesson, these ancient traditions say that this gives us the best chance for that symptom or disease to leave us. You learn the lesson. And then you can graduate. But if we don’t listen to that angel, it blasts its horn a little louder. The symptom gets worse. And the suffering continues.
Don’t go to the place of, “Oh, my God. This means I’m causing all my problems. Woe is me. It’s my fault.” I’m not saying that. I’m saying that there’s a wisdom to life that’s talking to us. And it behooves us to listen. So, of course, if you’ve got a splinter, pull it out. Of course if you’ve got a migraine, deal with it. Find out what you’ve got to do.
But sometimes, yeah, take the herbs, take the supplements, the powerful nutrients, whatever it is, the technological, the surgical interventions. But also remember that there’s times when we simply need insight. We need to go with it. We might need love. We might need rest. We might need to look at a deep reflection in the mirror. We might want to check out a new way of seeing the world, of seeing ourselves.
The challenge is we tend to mistake the symptom or the disease as if it’s the actual problem.
And we attack it. We attack it like it’s the enemy. And when you attack something like it’s the enemy, you’re in a stress response. You’re in survival physiology. And healing, by the way, happens in the relaxation response.
So the body actually can’t heal when you are attacking it because you’re creating the opposite physiologic state of healing. All healing, all maintenance and repair of body tissue, happens in the physiologic relaxation response. That means when you’re sleeping, for goodness sakes. It means when you’re in a state of rest, in a state of repose, in a state of meditation. Our health challenges are such a great teacher.
Our symptoms are sacred. They’re teaching us. And when we learn, we can graduate.
And when we graduate, we expand. We become the person we’re meant to be. Our metabolism becomes what it’s meant to be.
And that, my friends, is the magic of the world.