Stop The Fight: Engender Trust Often-Ignored Treatment Plan Essentials
Jody Stanislaw, ND
What is the root cause of disease?… Toxins? Poor diet? A sedentary lifestyle? Digestive system breakdown? Immune system irregularity? Over-medication?… As naturopathic physicians, we’re experts in looking deeply for these types of root causes. But in this article, I propose we look even deeper for an additional cause that may often be ignored.
To make my point, I’m going to share a remarkable true story of a patient named Anita. (I will use her real name because her story is already public.*)
Anita was a woman who spent most of her life being fearful of just about everything – of not knowing the “right” path she should take in life, of making a wrong decision, of never being good enough, of failing, of not being liked, of letting others down, of contracting an illness… Frankly, these are common fears I see in my patients, as well as in my own life, on a regular basis.
Overcome By Fear
Everything she did in her life was designed to win approval from others, though not from herself. If anyone had asked her what she really wanted in life, she wouldn’t have known. She was so caught up in the cultural, societal, and familial expectations placed on her, that she had no concept of what was really important to her.
After 2 people close to her died of cancer, she became fearful that eventually this would be her same fate. She started researching how to prevent it, yet the more she read, the more her findings fueled her fears. She learned how pathogens in the environment and in food were carcinogenic; plastic containers for food, microwaves, preservatives, mobile phones, the glorious sunshine… so many things in daily life all seemed to cause cancer. Not only was she afraid of the disease itself, but she was afraid of the detrimental effects of chemotherapy and radiation as well.
Her fears soon ballooned into a paralyzing fright of not only dying, but of living too. The world seemed to be such a menacing and untrustworthy place. She slowly started saying “no” more and more, as her life experiences became smaller and smaller.
And then she was diagnosed with cancer.
Anita’s Response to Illness
Due to her fear of standard treatment, she quit her job to dedicate her life to pursuing natural therapies. She traveled to India for Ayurvedic healing, to China for Eastern methodologies, studied with Buddhist monks and Indian yogis, became vegan, did pranic healing, practiced Qi Gong, forgave everyone she ever held a grudge against, and more… yet her cancer kept getting worse.
Surrender and Freedom
Cancer ravaged her body for almost 4 years until, eventually, she was simply too weak to hold on. She surrendered to what felt like the inevitable and welcomed death, because she decided that anything would be better than the life she was now living. Finally, she gave up fighting, and let go.
Malnourished and listless, she fell into a coma. Yet, as the doctors were predicting her imminent death and while she could even hear their discussions down the hall from her room, she had arrived into a state of clarity and bliss unlike anything she had ever encountered.
Her fears had vanished. This absence of these mental shackles allowed her for the first time to see herself as the powerful and magnificent person she inherently was. She realized how harshly she had treated herself throughout her entire life, that it was she who had been judging herself so ruthlessly and that it had nothing to do with anyone else. She realized she’d never loved herself, valued herself, or seen the beauty of her own soul.
In this other-world state, she was given the understanding that her cancer was her own energy, manifesting as cancer, because her fears were not allowing her to express herself as the magnificent force she truly was.
After 24 hours of experiencing this clarity and bliss, her eyes opened. Not only did she wake up, but astonishingly, just a few weeks later, the doctors declared that they could no longer find any trace of cancer in her body. After several months of rehabilitation to regain her strength and vitality, Anita now lectures on the lessons she learned from her miraculous experience.
Now, of course, this case study is nothing short of a miracle. By no means am I suggesting we could reproduce these results even if we were to become experts at teaching our patients the wisdom Anita gained during her coma. However, we should not ignore the powerful lessons garnered from this story, which I will do my best to summarize here…
1) Self-love is essential… One of the best-kept secrets of all times for living in optimal health is the importance of self-love. Anita speaks about how vitally important it is to cultivate a deep love affair with ourselves. Being in love with ourselves is necessary for allowing qi to flow freely through the body in its most effective manner. Thus, self-love is an essential ingredient for any treatment plan.
One way I suggest bringing this up with patients is to include these questions on your intake form: “What do you love about your life?” “What do you love about yourself?” Depending on the depth of their answers, this easily opens the door to a discussion if needed.
2) We already are love… Love is the true nature of all beings. We don’t have to do anything to deserve it because we are already made of love. Understanding this puts us in the flow of working with the life-force energy and towards healing, whereas if we think we have to do something to deserve love, we work against the flow. There is nothing we need to do per se to deserve love, because we already are love.
Anita saw that one of the main purposes in life – and a key that opens the door for healing – is simply to be loving in day-to-day life. Being true to yourself and your own desires, fearlessly, is an essential part of this. This can be addressed with patients by asking them what their dreams are and then helping them identify baby steps they can take now which can move them in the direction towards turning their dreams into reality.
Another great discussion can start by asking, “What are ways in which you see yourself as being loving to yourself and others in your day-to-day life?” What I find with this question is that patients unfortunately are very skilled at saying where they deem they are falling short. I always highlight this question as a means of helping them strengthen their ability to focus on all the ways they are being a good person instead. I often write this on a treatment plan: “Take note on a daily basis of all the ways you are a loving and kind person.” This exercise helps their neural pathway of focusing on their strengths become stronger, as their focus on faults weakens.
3) Let go and allow what is… An absence of Anita’s preconceived belief patterns was also necessary for her healing. When she was willing to let go of what her mind thought it wanted, this allowed the vibrant life force within her to take over. She was then able to receive not only the gift of life, but of more joy then she had ever previously known.
Anita speaks about how we are at our strongest when we are willing to let go of our stories and preconceived notions about the way life “should” be, to suspend all beliefs, as well as our disbeliefs. If we can accept that our narrow human understanding is incomplete, and we become comfortable with uncertainty, we open ourselves to infinite possibilities. In real-life application, this is a practice that takes the journey of a lifetime.
As physicians, it is easy to have a preconceived notion of if and how long it will take for a patient to get better (whatever that looks like, anyway, since life is a constant ebb and flow of catabolic and anabolic processes). This is an easy trap to fall into, so we must remember that we really never know, since every patient has his or her own unique path.
This point also applies to the patient’s own belief system about him- or herself. When I hear patients speak of their bodies in terms of fear, resistance, and doubt, I always address this and remind them how they are the authors of their life, and how an open and peaceful mind creates space for endless possibilities.
4) Acceptance and trust… Accepting the truth of what is actually going on… be it a tumor, an inflammatory response, an endocrine imbalance, etc – and separating it from the likely inflated stories of doom and gloom around what is happening – can cause a very healing shift in energy.
The dichotomy is that often for healing to occur, we must let go of fighting. By bringing a sense of trust to whatever shows up in our lives, and by working with it, healing is more likely to occur. Because otherwise, “What we resist, persists.” It is important to model to patients to not let fear be the driving force behind their reasons for working with us. Fears need to be acknowledged, but do not have to run the show. Trusting that illness is a wise and benevolent process, albeit painful, is a core naturopathic philosophy.
We are more effective when we work with our patient’s ailments from a place of, “How can we work with this and improve it?” instead of, “What’s happening in your body is so unfortunate, and we must fix it and get rid of it.” We must work with what is going on, from a place of trust and respect, and not from a place of fear and repugnance. It’s a very simple shift in thought that we can quietly remind ourselves of each time we write a treatment plan.
So, the next time you’re writing a treatment plan full of vitamin and herbal supplements, remember to include some of the vital pearls highlighted here, and perhaps, with some of your patients, even schedule a separate time to discuss these vital healing ingredients…You already are everything you need to be. Who you are right now is perfect and whole. Be true to who you are. Be fearlessly yourself. There is no need to act to please anybody or prove anything. Do what feels good and easy. Detach from preconceived outcomes. Trust what shows up in your life. Let go of fighting. Take action that comes from a place of trust and love. Fill yourself with the truth that you are a powerful, magnificent, and unconditionally-loved being. Laugh and have fun… Life is meant to be enjoyed.
*Anita’s full story is captured in her book, Dying to Be Me, by Anita Moorjani.
Jody Stanislaw, ND graduated from Bastyr University in 2007. She works with patients located anywhere around the country via phone/Skype. She is a lifestyle transformation specialist and works intensively with patients, not only in regards to their mental well-being, but also to help them make the lasting habit changes they need to reach optimum health via her 3-month “Four Pillars of Health Lifestyle Transformation Program.” Being a type 1 diabetic since the age of 7, she also specializes in diabetes.