Friday, April 29, 2016

Focusing On Symptoms

It is a common error we all make.  It is part of the human experience.  I know, because I did it for years.  We get lost in focusing on symptoms, rather than seeing what is right before our eyes.  After all, the easy road is just focusing on symptoms.

You may be thinking, is this writer nuts?  What else would I do but focus on my symptoms?  While this is a good question and will get you thinking in a positive direction, it can be quite confusing.

Symptoms are just outward manifestations of something going on in your physical body.  It is like if you hit your thumb with a hammer, the pain you feel in your thumb isn't the cause.  It is the hammer hitting it that is the cause.

Unfortunately we often look at the pain felt in the thumb as being the sole cause of whatever is happening and we stop looking any further from that point.  Yes, you may need to deal with real issues such as in the case of the hammer, a broken or throbbing thumb.  It all depends of course, upon how hard you hit it.

However, the more important part of healing is not focusing on the symptom, but what happened that caused that to show up.  What was going on in your life?  What experiences had happened before this?

Let's say you wake up and your back is sore or your neck is stiff.  Often we like to say that we "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" or "we slept wrong" or something to that effect.  Unfortunately, there is more to the picture than we see.  Focusing on the symptom may get us to the point of applying heat or ice to ease the discomfort, but if we don't look to the root cause, sooner or later the ice and heat may not help in the way that we need it to help.

In order for this approach to work, you have to be very honest with yourself.  You can't even hide from those things you might not consciously recall in that moment.  You can't hide from the things you have tried to bury all these years if you want this to work.  It won't help to hide from things that you really don't consider to be important or much of a factor.  It is easy to minimize things and that's a human trait we all have. 

Let me give another example in case this isn't clear.  Many years ago I worked with farmers.  At times the animals would get sick.  Immediately some farmers would want to give the animals medication and while that might have been necessary in the moment, you had to stand back and look at the whole picture.

Sometimes we gave medications initially to get the animals feeling better and keep them from dying, but then we took steps to solve why they were getting sick.  If you didn't see the whole picture and just focused on the symptoms (i.e. the animals getting sick), you would end up treating the animals over and over again.  Sometimes some simple change to the cause of the sickness was enough to get completely past what was happening.

When we focus on symptoms, we lose the ability to see the root cause.  Sometimes the root cause is not apparent and there are times when it takes a long time to see the root cause.  However, we must not quit searching for the source or even how to discover the source of the symptoms.  It is the source that matters, not the symptoms.

When I was going through Conversion Disorder, I could have gotten lost in all the symptoms including the seizures, fatigue, and paralysis that I was going through at that point.  Fortunately I had some smart doctors that helped me focus on getting better, not on what was happening to me.  I'm equally as grateful that I didn't get lost in the symptoms and I learned to look forward to understanding the source, not get blinded by the symptoms.

I'm not going to tell you that the source of what you are going through will show up tomorrow or the next day or even the next month.  In my case, it took many months before some of those things began to emerge and even more time to clearly see the entire picture.

I did not get lost in the symptoms.  Instead, I kept trying to understand how to reclaim my life and discover more of myself then I knew was in existence.  I pushed back the paradigms of all that I thought I knew, and quit clinging on to the things that had not gotten me far in life.  After all, if what I was doing had not worked up until this point, then I finally realized that I had to let it go. 

It was in that embrace of all that I did not know, searching for the root cause, that I began to heal and find myself.  If I would have stayed focused on all the symptoms, I would have never made it.  It is a futile exercise that drains you of your energy required to heal.  Yes, I understand it is human nature, but in order to heal, it requires us to step our game up a few notches.

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
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