Values, Illness & Healing

“Regardless of your circumstances, your values, your unique attributes, and your gifts and talents are relatively consistent. They may be buried, the may be misguided or misused, but they exist. A health setback provides you an excellent opportunity to review, revisit and shed crusty old layers of misaligned choices.”

~ Step 2, Embrace the New Normal, Business from Bed

When I became ill with Crohn’s symptoms – and during each subsequent flare-up – I made it a point to ask:

  • Where am I out of alignment in my life?”
  • “Where is the imbalance and what do I need to adjust?”

I had a sense that what happened in my body was, at least to some degree, an indicator that something was amiss within me.

This is an interesting set of questions in that, if taken the wrong way, can be seen as asking “Where am I at fault; what did I do wrong?” This is not what my questions mean. There are a variety of factors that create the environment for illness, everything from genetics to the physical environment to an unfortunate alignment of events.

So, no, I don’t mean to suggest we are at fault; I do mean to suggest that we can ask questions in case there is something within our behaviors, thoughts, beliefs or actions that could aggravate our health.

Oprah show on Anorexia shows me where healing is needed

I’ve already written about some of the ways I connected with my inner guidance during the 10-day hospital stay the first year I was ill. Today, I want to tell you about what happened when watching an Oprah episode during that time.

The topic of discussion was anorexia, not an illness normally linked to Crohn’s Disease. But, as the 3 women guests talked about how they felt about their bodies, I was shocked to see myself in their stories. I had one of those moments when threads of my life flashed before me.

I realized how uncomfortable I was in my own skin. As a girl, I was always thin, a bit hairy and on the short side. I was Jewish in a Catholic community and worked hard to fit in socially. I was athletic but not a star jock. I had a nice look but I wasn’t a “natural” beauty. I became focused on – and fearful of – food after gaining 15-20 pounds the first year of college. By the time I became ill I had taken that weight off, but for a number of years I had a love-hate relationship with food.

I wondered to myself, was Crohn’s my creative diet approach? It scared me to think about that but I could see it as an extreme possibility. It didn’t help that my primary physician described me, upon discharging me from the hospital the first time, as a 36-year-old anorexic women. I believe he used the term clinically, meaning I was underweight, but still, anorexic?

Out of Sync with My Values & Sense of Self

This revelation and the questions that arose marked the beginning of the healing for me. As I got in touch with the depth of my discomfort in my body and in the world, I also realized that so much of my drive to “fit in” gave way to behaviors and beliefs that were misaligned with MY values and my VALUE.

  • For the love of a boy in high school, I hung out with a group of kids who I did not really like.
  • At the age of 36, I was still making less than stellar decisions about personal relationships as I “looked for love in all the wrong places.”
  • I was doing well in my career, thank goodness, but I was also in denial about what was happening in my body, until that second hospital stay. I kept pushing myself so I wouldn’t let anybody down.

At this point I was on my second marriage. 4 months after I was discharged from the hospital I went to see a counselor to make a decision about that marriage. 6 months after that I filed for divorce and left. I won’t go into the reasons here, but I will tell you that I understood what I said “yes” to and what was motivating me. It had little to do with inner strength.

Values Are Our Lifelines

This is the first in a short series of posts (number unknown) about how illness can shed light on misalignment with values, and how recalibrating your feelings, thoughts, behaviors and actions with YOUR VALUES can assist in the healing.

In this post I’ve shared a personal journey, one that had little to do with work or business. However, when we are out of sorts with ourselves in one area of life, it impacts other areas. For today, I invite you to ask the 2 questions I started this post with:

  • “Where am I out of alignment in my life?”
  • “Where is the imbalance and what do I need to adjust?”

If you’re comfortable sharing your replies here, I invite you to. If not, I understand: it’s been over 20 years and this is the first time I’m talking about this part of my comeback story.

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