By Joanne Ross
‘How can I get rid of my symptoms? I want them to just go away’
When a client said this to me last week, I was not surprised; it was not the first time I’d heard this sentiment. Almost all of us will have felt like this when we’ve been beset by discomfort. Most of us have experienced painful, irritating or persistent symptoms and wanted more than anything for them to disappear.
Sometimes this frustration is triggered not by physical feelings, but by mental and emotional ones, such as debilitating fear, unquelled worry or unshakeable lowness. It’s a common reaction, as it’s natural to want to be free of these feelings and feel happy. What may be more surprising, as it’s less common, is my response.
The medical legacy
Our current attitudes towards pain and discomfort have been influenced by the philosophies, aims and methods of modern, allopathic medicine. The term ‘allopathic’ means to treat or suppress symptoms by having the opposite effect. The premise behind this is that symptoms are essentially undesirable and should be counteracted.
Sometimes allopathy works efficiently, and a drug or treatment suppresses, blocks or counteracts a symptom so that we no longer feel it. Other times, the symptom is somewhat numbed, so that we are less aware of it. Other times, a symptom is managed, so that, although it’s still present, we can continue life as normal with an added drug regime, for example, in cases of high blood pressure or diabetes. There are also times when it doesn’t work at all, and a symptom persists regardless of treatment.
The successful cases have given us an expectation of ‘quick fixes’, and although we’re sometimes disappointed by not getting them, we still hold onto their hope and promise. This can lead to disappointment, frustration, self-blame and other ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings when a quick fix is not achieved.
Symptoms as signs
The standpoint that symptoms are wrong or bad is only one perspective. META-Health begins with a different premise: that symptoms are meaningful reactions to specific stimuli. If we look at dictionary definitions of ‘symptom’, the word does not inherently denote wrongness (though it’s usually described this way), but rather as a sign, feature or indication of a deeper state.
From a META-Health perspective, a physical symptom is an outward manifestation of a more comprehensive system that incorporates all aspects of our being: body, mind, emotions, behaviour and perceptions of our environment, which all work together as one.
What are our symptoms telling us?
With META-Health, our physical symptoms can be useful indicators of what’s going on within us at a more unconscious level. Tracking our symptoms with the META-Health organ-mind-brain maps, descriptions of the biological functions of our organs, META-Meanings and Two Phase reactions, gives us clear insights into our psyche. When we have an issue with any organ, we are able to map it back to the emotions and thoughts that relate to the organ, and thus work with the root cause.
We can do this whether or not we choose to suppress symptoms. Sometimes symptom relief is necessary and useful; yet without addressing the deeper causes, it remains simply palliative rather than transformational or developmental.
The messages behind anxiety
Each set of symptoms indicates an underlying mental and emotional pattern. The symptom my client was frustrated with was recurrent feelings of panic and anxiety. This issue indicates that there is a blockage with the throat area. In terms of 64keys, and before this the ancient Hindu system of the Chakras, the throat area is correlated with themes of manifestation and communication; establishing who we are in the world and achieving our goals.
In terms of META-Health, panic and anxiety attacks are connected more specifically with the organs of the thyroid (the ducts or epithelial cells), the branchial plexus and the larynx (voicebox). Issues with these organs all relate to social stressors, in particular, wanting to be in control and feeling out of control of others’ reactions and actions; feeling threatened, attacked and defensive in communication; and feeling unable to speak up for ourselves.
So if we experience feelings of panic and anxiety, we can ask ourselves:
- Where have I been holding myself back from speaking up, manifesting, stating my position and communicating my truth?
- Where have I been trying to maintain control over situations that are outside of my control, through fear of the unknown or of other people’s reactions?
- And crucially: What can I do to change these patterns?
Change at all levels
This is a very different approach to simply looking for ways to mask or relieve the symptoms, and leads to bigger changes at all levels of being: not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally and behaviourally. As the term ‘mind-body-spirit’ is often used, we could even add ‘spiritually’ to this META-approach to healing, if we define spirit as aligning with the truth of who we are.
This gradual alignment, or we could say realignment, comes through a process of identifying our blocks and the meanings behind our symptoms, addressing and releasing them, and becoming the ‘I’ beyond these limitations.
What if my symptoms increase?
While undertaking this self-actualising journey, it may be a shock at first to experience more symptoms than we had before! Why does this happen? When we start to delayer and release old, programmed ways of thinking and behaving, this allows the body the opportunity to release stress and rebalance.
As META-Health reveals, many of the symptoms we’ve labelled as illnesses occur, not while we’re actively in stress, but once we’ve released the stress. These symptoms are part of the rebalancing and regeneration process.
For example, a key aspect of anxiety involves the thyroid ducts. In the stress phase, when we’re feeling anxious, the thyroid ducts open up. This is to allow more thyroxin to flood into the bloodstream and give us the power to act. When we overcome or release this stress, we enter into the regeneration phase, in which we are able to rebalance from this experience. The ducts normalise and less thyroxin is released. This can lead to feelings of lethargy and tiredness, and if chronic, can even be diagnosed as hyperthyroidism.
Yet the problem is not the tiredness of the regeneration phase, but the thoughts and feelings that triggered the anxiety in the stress phase. Rather than being wrong, we can see that these symptoms are a necessary part of a process of rebalancing.
What if I still resist my symptoms?
META-Health can certainly help with the healing process by providing an understanding of why an issue is present, what the deeper causes are, and what needs to change in order to allow healing and self-alignment to take place.
Yet this process can be hindered by our thoughts, feelings and judgements about what’s happening. Even when we know the cause, meaning and process, the strength of societal conditioning that symptoms are wrong and the discomfort they can cause can trigger thoughts such as:
- Why won’t this go away?
- How much longer is it going to take to heal?
- Why can’t I just get over this and get on with my life (like everybody else)?
- Why do I have to put up with this? It’s not fair!
- Why isn’t the therapy working?
- Other people have more issues than me, yet I’m the one who has these symptoms
All of these thoughts, and many like them, lead to a plethora of ‘negative’ feelings, the most common of which are injustice, disappointment, blame, frustration, resistance, resentment and impatience.
What we resist persists
The phase quoted in NLP and personal development circles, so often that it may seem overused, has nevertheless been shown in our work time and again to be true: What we resist does persist. When we hold onto negative judgements and their associated emotions, we are actually holding the issue in place through our lack of acceptance of what is. While desperately wishing for a different future, we are simultaneously blocking change by fighting the current situation.
With bodily symptoms such as pain, we often resist them physically as well as mentally and emotionally. For example, we tend to clench the muscles in that area, breathe shallowly or even hold our breath. This not only fails to relieve the discomfort, it can worsen it, as it activates the stress response and drains our energy.
What we accept flows
One of our core transformation processes involves eliciting the negative thoughts and feelings that lie behind a person’s stuckness with a particular issue. Each time we use this process, the change occurs only when the individual gives up resistance to the perceived negative state. When they are able to, in their words, ‘give up fighting’, ‘surrender’, ‘let go’, ‘accept’ or even ‘give into’ a perceived negative, then neutral and positive thoughts, feelings, images and behaviour begin to flow in, and they are able to transcend their old way of thinking and being.
When we are able to let go of fighting against and accept what is happening now, this opens up the doors to change. This involves letting go of the need to control; if our goal is to force open these doors, this in itself creates a barrier to change.
It is the same in the ‘real world’ outside therapeutic intervention. When we’re able to let go of resistance to a symptom, problem, feeling or unwanted situation, a large part of the discomfort is lifted.
On the first morning of our EFT Foundation courses, we teach the opening statement: ‘Even though I have this (name of problem), I deeply and completely love and accept myself’. This key statement enables the two apparent opposites to be combined: acknowledgement that the problem exists, and acceptance of oneself just the way we are. This key feature of EFT’s popularity and success reveals that in order to transcend a problem, we first need to accept that it exists, and in order to move forwards, we first need to accept where we are.
We can use a similar set up phrase for all kinds of resistance to a problem, wording the phrase as appropriate, for example:
- ‘Even though I’m angry because I have this (name symptom / problem / situation), I choose to love and accept myself just the way I am’
- ‘Even though I feel frustrated and want (name the situation) to change, I’m learning to love and accept myself as I am’
- ‘Even though I feel resentful that I’ve had to put up with this (name problem) for years, I know I’m a good person’
These set-up statements can be used as the basis for self-tapping. Often, tapping on them brings up different feelings, awarenesses and connections to why you’re feeling the way you are, and you can use EFT to address each of these.
Levels of resistance
Of course, there can be numerous layers to the resistance we build up, and each of these can be addressed. An alternative type of resistance is an opposition to change: when an individual is attached to old ways of thinking, feeling and behaving, and thus, perpetuating the persistence of resultant health issues. While this may seem like the opposite reaction, it can go hand in hand with frustration towards symptoms, and has similar consequences.
I recently heard a common frustration with the idea of acceptance, in this case, to do with romantic relationships: ‘I’ve been accepting that I’m single for several years now; how much longer do I have to put up with it?’. Just as there are levels of resistance, there are levels of acceptance to work through.
Over a decade ago, a colleague described to me his sadness following the breakup of his first serious relationship. He said he’d only been able to fully let go when he’d accepted the possibility of never again meeting and connecting with someone so deeply, and had come to terms with the possibility of remaining single for the rest of his life. At the time, I thought this was a bit melodramatic, and yet, after going through a similar experience, I grasped the wisdom of his words and actions.
New applications for ancient wisdom
Despite the allure and predominance of the ‘quick fix’ mentality in today’s society, the philosophy of acceptance has deeper roots and is also experiencing a resurgence in appeal.
Non-attachment, being present, letting go of wishing things were different and accepting what is are core tenets of many Buddhist-related philosophies going back over 2000 years. Modern meditation and mindfulness practices are often based upon these principles. META-Health, 64keys and EFT synthesise ancient wisdom with recent innovations, enabling us to apply this understanding in new and precise ways.
Acceptance opens the gateway to change
Last week, my client was only partially surprised by my advice that the best way to ‘get rid of’ the problem was first to accept it, as she’s already been working towards this approach and made some significant behavioural changes.
Another of our clients and a META-Health Practitioner trainee took this advice reluctantly and as a last resort. Having struggled with chronic-fatigue-related symptoms for a number of years, she had mainly tried to follow friends’ and well-wishers’ advice to ‘keep going and get on with it’. This had led to increasing exhaustion and eventually a feeling that enough was enough.
The only option she felt she had left was to ‘give in’ to her symptoms, rest when and for as long as she needed to, and let her body, rather than her mind, take charge. Once she did this, a powerful change occurred: the ‘push’ energy turned to ‘pull’ and for the first time in years, she felt motivated to do things, not because she should, but because she wanted to. This is the beginning of her re-alignment: as a ‘Generator’ or ‘Builder’ in the 64keys system, she is designed to listen to and respond to her sacral response, her ‘gut feeling’, as her inner guide.
Find out more
Joanne Ross works as a co-director, coach and trainer with the META-Health Academy. The Academy offers regular courses in advanced approaches to personal development, including EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), META-Health and 64keys. Foundation courses are available in each of these approaches, and are open to all interested in health and self development.
You can also book an Awareness Consultation with one of our coaches if you’d like to explore your blocks, barriers or goals on a 1-1 basis.
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