Friday, January 22, 2010
My Most Trusted Advisor
I consider my body my most trusted advisor. I think it assimilates information from the Universe that I can’t understand fully at first. You see, I know the Universe wants my best life, but sometimes I don’t heed its advice – sometimes I’m convinced I don’t even hear it.
It’s like Oprah says: Life sends you messages - first it will put a pebble in your path, then a rock, and then a brick wall. If I don’t hear the plink of the pebble, the rock shows up - usually as a bodily symptom. I pay attention because I really want to avoid hitting that brick wall.
If I ignore my body’s messages, it’s capable of great drama. In fact, I’ve seen my body produce some Oscar-worthy performances.
I work as a nurse-midwife in a hospital. I consult with physicians when I am caring for a woman who is considered high-risk and occasionally I don’t agree with the physician’s plan for managing a particular case.
One night I told a doctor that I was disinclined to follow his plan and he responded by saying, “That’s why I’m here, to tell you what to do.” Those weren’t his exact words, but you get the point.
I knew the doctor’s plan was not going to cause harm and I didn’t want further conflict, so I followed his orders. Within a few hours I lost my voice. My throat hurt and I couldn’t speak above a whisper.
As soon as I got home I looked up laryngitis in my well-worn copy of Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. I believe the book provides clues to understanding the messages underlying an illness or imbalance in your body. If you decipher these messages and, more importantly, act on them by changing your thinking, you will improve your life.
For laryngitis she writes that the probable cause is “So mad you can’t speak. Fear of speaking up. Resentment of authority.” I was struck by the truth of this: I was mad. I had been afraid to speak up to the doctor. And I resented that he didn’t seem to value my expertise.
The new thought pattern she offers is “I am free to ask for what I want. It is safe to express myself. I am at peace.” I applied this new thought to my mind like a healing balm and got my voice back quickly after that.
The affirmation also helped me gain insight into the fact that I don’t need to compel the doctors to agree with me or even to see my side. All I can do is use my best judgment and present a plan of care. And trust that all is well.
For me, being at peace means that my worth is not predicated on others valuing me. I value me.
Since that epiphany I’ve had other differences of opinion with my physician colleagues but I haven’t had that sense that my value as a practitioner was diminished. And I’ve never lost my voice again.
Many of my coaching clients are women in their middle years and a common issue is insomnia. We all know that there are lots of suggestions for how to improve your sleep through better habits - like eliminating caffeine, increasing magnesium, exercise, routine bedtimes and getting acupuncture. All of these strategies address the hormonal changes that come with menopause.
But insomnia is often a way our body clues us into a deeper truth about ourselves. Christiane Northrup, M.D., in her excellent “The Wisdom of Menopause,” writes that insomnia and fatigue are frequently “the result of unprocessed and unresolved emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety,” which accompany the enormous changes of midlife.
She encourages her readers to identify the emotions that challenge them and look for their underlying meanings. Are you anxious about a daughter getting into her preferred college? Do you feel guilty about the things haven’t gotten done in a day? Do you feel resentful that everything seems to depend on you?
Louise Hay’s affirmation for insomnia is “I lovingly release the day and slip into peaceful sleep, knowing tomorrow will take care of itself.” When you have good sleep “hygiene,” when you address the probable causes — and when you release the negative emotions that occupy your waking life—you will, most likely, find yourself able to sleep like a baby.
You don’t need a copy of Louise Hay’s or Christiane Northrup’s books (although I highly recommend them!) because all you really need to know is that if you ignore the wisdom available to you, your body can create a painful drama.
On the other hand, the Universe wants you to know that you are worthy of love and respect and you can have a life filled with health, happiness, connection and joy – you just have to listen.
Do you think your body may be trying to tell you something right now?
Stacey works as a certified nurse-midwife in North Carolina, and over more than 15 years her career has taken her from western Indian reservations to a center-city Bronx hospital to the mountains of southwestern Mexico.
She has been an enthusiastic student of positive psychology for years and applies it to her midwifery and life coaching practices (www.midwifeforyourlife.com) with great success.
She lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, young son, and Ruby the wonder chicken.
*photo is of Ginger, way back when in the last decade, Emerald Isle sunrise.