Be Your Own Doctor!
Self-Healing Strategies for Everyday Living
Being your own doctor means to develop a confident self-monitoring ability that keeps you aware of your physical and mental health condition. It also means becoming more sensitive to the subtle distress signals of your body and knowing the limits of what you can and cannot do to help yourself.
Some common symptoms that broadcast internal distress, deficiency, excess or degeneration, are the following:
The above symptoms are ways that your body telegraphs distress. Many of these conditions have the potential to be healed. While some might be more challenging to heal, there are still simple diet and lifestyle changes you can make which will help, or at least minimize these problems.
Focusing exclusively on treating symptoms does not addressing the underlying problem. Sometimes, symptomatic treatment might be necessary for alleviating pain (an immune stressor) or in situations of progressive infection, but we still need to understand the cause behind these symptoms. Knowing why is critical for healing. Additionally, if your symptoms are persistent, it means your body is talking to you!
We lack education about how our body functions and its basic needs. Many symptoms we experience, particularly with aging, are considered “inevitable”—a “natural consequence of aging.” However, most conditions are a form of degeneration—incidating that the body is deficient, breaking down, overwhelmed, or unable to process the toxicity it has accumulated. Disease is not an “inevitable” part of aging.
Do you know how the body basically functions? The role of oxygen—how red blood cells deliver oxygen to tissues and body cells; how digestion works; what the liver does; how circulation flows; the role of blood sugar, etc. We are body owners, and how we treat this body determines our quality of life. Why are we not taught these things?
I once had a 68-year old client complain about a “stomach-ache.” He pointed to the bottom of his small intestine, about four inches below his navel. I remarked, “that area is part of your small intestine, not your stomach. Your stomach is here…” as I pointed to his left side beneath his last rib. He just shrugged: “Well, I just thought the whole area was my stomach…”
Now, this point about self-knowledge doesn’t mean that we must become students of physiology. But, if you’re going to occupy a body for many decades, it might be a good idea to become familiar with organ locations, functions, needs and signs of distress. Instead, we settle for a symptomatic formula of unquestioned mix and match solutions: for digestive pain, take an anti-acid; for headache (an analgesic like acetaminophen); for inflammation, a common over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug (aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen). The list is endless. And, symptomatic quick-fixes are not without potential side-effects.
Focusing on treating symptoms is like noticing your Check Engine light flashing from your car dashboard—a sign of electrical, fuel injection or mechanical problems. Instead of trying to discover the reason for this warning, you simply place a piece of black tape over the dashboard light and, viola! Annoying light no more! Of course, all you’ve really done is mask it. Ignore it long enough and it’s likely to become a more significant problem—just like your body symptoms.
Symptomatic treatment is sometimes necessary and can even be life-saving, such as bleeding, infection, broken bones, structural damage to our bodies, or any kind of progressive toxicity. This is the reason that modern medicine is often called, "crisis medicine." But for ordinary, everyday common disorders or conditions that signal more serious problems, we need a deeper understanding. We need to know the why, what to do and how long of a period we need conventional crisis support, if at all.
Uncovering the real source of imbalance requires a more comprehensive approach than just treating symptoms; more than taking a supplement, getting spinal adjustment, taking an over-the-counter medication or doing an emotional process. There are many holistic symptomatic treatments that have definite relevance—sometimes a supplement might trigger a positive nutrient chain reaction; a spinal adjustment could help realign a structural problem or allieviate nerve pressure; a medicine can often calm you down so you can re-think your next step with clarity since you are no longer in pain; or an emotional process may end up reducing stress that is usually an irritant to recovery. But, eating is something you do at least 3 times daily, seven days weekly. Cease to eat and death is around the corner. Therefore, our daily food has strong influence, because it changes our chemistry, for the better, or for the worse.
So much of what we’ve learned in our primary schooling did not offer practical tools for enhancing our health, articulating feelings that are important to us, or knowing how to treat emergency basics, beyond just running to the ER. Most of us do not know how to manage or maximize our health potential. Nutritional clichés such as “eat a balanced diet,” are vague and fraught with convention, politics and economics. They mask a collective ignorance.
Unfortunately, there was no manual given to us at birth, leaving us to our own devices to research and discover through personal experience or depend on physicians to simply treat our symptoms. Figuring out a natural course of action is not about philosophy or guesswork, but by experimenting to discover what personally works for our bodies and what doesn’t. This is the role of self-challenge in developing your health and sensitivity. It requires focus and paying attention; it requires time put aside to learn educational fundamentals and more about the workings of the machine that you occupy for 80 to 100 years, or more! That machine works with an divine brilliant wisdom—we just have to learn better ways to nurture its functioning.
The Trinity of Despair: Pain, Boredom and Stress
The early 19th century philosopher Schopenhauer once said: “The two human foes of happiness, are boredom and pain.” Pain colors our ability to enjoy life, devouring energy and the will to live. Boredom fuels depression, taking the color out of life. I’ve seen these characteristics in many cancer patients. Come to think of it, I’ve equally seen these characteristics in healthy people.
Making sure we understand the source of our personal pain is therefore, a priority. There are many kinds of pain. Some people are in constant physical pain, which can be due to internal inflammation, structural flaws, surgical recovery or unbalanced chemistry. Others might be in emotional pain from years of suppression, an inability to communicate, or self-generated fear. You only need to speak with someone for short time to assess the degree of their emotional pain; it is difficult to hide, but you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice pattern, see it in their posture, or listen to a conversation thread. You can also observe it in their movement and note a definite lack of animation.
Some people are in philosophical, or spiritual pain; they either have a conflict of meaning or a profound fear that paralyzes their faith; a negative life view that is without faith, along with an insensitivity to the energetic, invisible world. They consider themselves “pragmatists.”
I have found that people who claim to be “bored” in their lives usually have less meaning and driving purpose. By the same token, I’ve seen many wealthy people whose sustaining life goal was simply to make money. Then, having made money, they slipped into the realm of boredom, unaware that a life devoted to making money did little to fulfill their inner life. Their sense of challenge and adventure for life gradually began to fade. Cynicism moved in and dulled their inspiration for life causing them to become excessive frugal and fearful that others would take advantage of them.
The pain or unresolved conflict that people endure, creates a subtle and consistent stress; a stress that permeates their existence. It’s with them during waking hours, it’s with them when they sleep, as is revealed by dream symbolism. So, there is really no escape, only resolve.
You can attempt to distract and numb yourself with compulsive behavior or food and substance indulgence, but unless you’re willing to work at core levels to better understand the source of this stress, it remains subtle, but constant.
Eventually, unresolved conflict and chronic stress results in physical or mental breakdown—the state we know as dis-ease. Through the combination of acquired knowledge, good health and a personalized game plan of body, mind and spirit therapies, a conscious consultant or therapist can offer many ways for people to uncover the source of their conflicts. They can help redefine old perspectives, stabilize health and create beneficial self-challenges that can promote greater self-reliance, independence and confidence. Allowing yourself to ask for help, is the first step.
Next Week, Part 2:
Levels of Self-Care
Seven Conditions Attributed to Most Modern Ills
Following Week: Part 3:
Twelve Essential Diagnostic Questions
Active Self-Diagnosis – Exploring the 12 Questions