Personal Best: unearthing the root of pain

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 June, 2013, 9:58am

Have you ever wondered why some people get sick and, despite treatment, never quite recover? Are they too attached to their pain or is there something that is not being addressed?

But our physical challenges are sometimes rooted in mental and emotional troubles, which when unresolved result in disease.

For example, we may feel stressed when we are doing a job we believe we "have to do" instead of enjoy. We sometimes expect a great deal from ourselves and are driven to be perfect, to achieve, to succeed.

We feel bad when we are betrayed by a partner or feel guilty for leaving a partner. Sometimes we are not able to say what we feel. I believe these everyday situations have an effect on our physical health.

There is some interesting research to back this up. Masaru Emoto's book, The Miracle of Water, for example, shows how water is able to take in energy and transform. It says good thoughts and emotions can purify the water in our bodies. Dr Brian Lipton's The Biology of Belief, meanwhile, suggests that our beliefs affect our DNA. The Divided Mind by John Sarno looks at the cause of pain and offers a way of using the mind to heal the body.

As a life coach, I help people navigate change. There is change that is thrust upon them, for example when they lose their job. There is also change that comes from choice, either a feeling that "something's got to give" or a desire for personal development.

My clients learn to become self-aware, examining who they are, what they want and where they are out of balance. They look at their physical, mental and emotional well-being, language, beliefs and behaviour.

Nutrition, exercise, rest and the environment in which we live all contribute to our wellness. And our well-being is determined by our attitude.

For several years she suffered from laryngitis and back pain. But when she found her voice ... her physical symptoms went away completely

When Tracey first came to me for coaching, she was moving through the early stages of divorce. Her husband had an affair and decided to leave the marriage. Tracey had been a good wife, living at the beck and call of her family. Brought up to be kind and nice, never to rock the boat, she rarely expressed how she felt and certainly did not allow herself to be angry.

Looking back, she learned that her marriage was an illusion. By all appearances, they were the perfect family, but underneath she felt huge resentment. She likened herself to a dog - always obedient to a powerful master.

For several years she suffered from laryngitis and back pain. But when she found her voice and the courage to set boundaries as well as learning to support herself, her physical symptoms went away completely.

William, meanwhile, had a strict Chinese father who "never accepted him". Growing up, William, the eldest of his siblings, suffered beatings. As an adult, he strove to be extraordinary; the No1 son.

Now a successful architect, he was still never satisfied with his achievements and was very self-critical. He didn't know how to have fun. He was afraid of failure, and thought and behaved as if he were poor although he was wealthy.

He complained of neck pain, headaches and tinnitus (a constant ringing in his ear). When he learned to accept and trust himself, to open himself to the beauty in life, his health issues abated.

Another person I coached, MaryAnne, was adopted and told from an early age that she was "special". She described herself as an optimist who enjoyed a happy childhood. When she looked back at her life, she saw a pattern of trying to prove she was special. A perfectionist, she expected to be in control and be seen as keeping it together.

In her career and sports, she was driven by a need to achieve. Her deepest fear was of being weak and dependent. Her childhood hadn't been so happy after all. There was much tension and fighting between her mum and dad.

One of her goals was to learn to live with her excruciating back pain. MaryAnne learned that her beliefs - "don't talk about it" and "don't be weak" - allowed her to avoid feeling her emotions and being vulnerable.

Her vocabulary of feelings was limited to "good", "bad" and "fine". The latter protected her from experiencing painful emotions.

Her back pain distracted her from her emotional pain. Once she was able to feel her deep sadness and rage, she no longer needed physiotherapy or painkillers.

We create our own reality. We all want a life that we love - feeling joy and peace, and being comfortable being who we are. To achieve this, we need to learn to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You need to let go of judgments, feel your feelings and see the beauty of life.