Just because everyone that you know has similar symptoms, does not mean that you are healthy. But it also does not mean that feeling like that is inevitable. Over time we become relatively unaware of our shared cultural trauma. And if we cannot see the forest for the trees (because we are too busy just keeping our heads above water with our daily challenges), then it is hard to know where to start with breaking patterns and finding healthier ways to live.
You can bring more awareness to this by beginning to notice how many times you say something like:
- Everyone in my family has…
- Everyone over 50 has…
- All the women in my family get…. at this age.
- I’m always sick at this time of year.
As we begin to notice how many symptoms we just accept as “normal” or inevitable, then we can begin to think about the bigger picture, and maybe think about making a different choice.
I always remember this one time when I went to see some acrobats, and my first thought was that there was something weird about them that they could move and bend their bodies like that. But then I shifted my thinking to the fact that maybe all humans are created with the potential, and if I had practiced and trained since I was little, then maybe I could move my body like that too. If I had come from a family of acrobats, then I would have had that belief in myself and in my own body. And then I saw some pictures of someone in their 90’s doing some amazing yoga poses, and I thought that maybe there was still time.
I had a yoga teacher once who would have us do a twist at the beginning of class and see what was the furthest point that we could see in the room, and then we’d do it again at the end of the hour and see how much more flexible we were already. Having that shift in perspective in a measurable dose really helped me to start seeing immediate results, even if I was still not quite an acrobat. And to be completely honest, that yoga class was geared towards regaining mobility, and I was taking it with a room full of senior citizens because I was working my way to health and mobility after a few major abdominal surgeries. And being about 30 years younger than the others in the class, I appreciated having those role models to create a healthy vision for my future self.
Read more Scientific Studies about how our thoughts create our reality.
As a culture we are so used to this interesting paradox of a high daily dose of stress coupled with an easy, sedentary lifestyle that we don’t even second guess our own symptoms. As a society we have weight problems, cardiovascular problems, breathing difficulties, etc. that can all be attributed to our shared cultural stress and trauma. Sometimes I see kids at school that are suffering with multiple serious symptoms and their parents think that it is fine, or that there is nothing that they can do. I have learned to read my kids symptoms as messages about something that they need.
This stressful lifestyle of keeping busy, and the constant stream of bad news and drama makes us feel like it is normal to just list what is wrong, or label ourselves with our disorders, instead of listening to our bodies and making changes.
I have learned from trying to teach about health, that the hardest thing is to change a belief in someone who is set in their ways. I can almost visibly see someone batting away the information that I am telling them if it does not match their belief structure. For example, I heard someone who threw their back out talking about how they were going to pay the bills if they were out of work for two weeks. I mentioned that there is this amazing practitioner in town that does Myofascial Release and will have them feeling better in an hour, which it totally worth getting two weeks of your life back, even if it is not covered by insurance. But they just kept going with their story about how it is required to suffer for two weeks.
And before you think that I have it all figured out, I will share that I am still working on this myself. It is really hard to change your mindset because you are so used to your own habits and your own way of thinking. This is why I am thankful to have friends that are willing to tell me when my trauma is showing. I think of it like the friends who are honest enough to tell you that you have food in your teeth. They would rather tell me the hard truth than let me keep walking around with toilet paper on my shoe. They lovingly and patiently help me to see which habits I have that are no longer serving my highest good, and they help me to expand my thinking so that I can create an even better vision for my future.
So, who do you have in your life that is helping you to notice your unhealthy behaviors or patterns? Sometimes we need to stop and realize that the person who is bothering us and making us really angry is just there to mirror our behaviors and thought patterns so that we notice them. It can be really painful, but in the end it helps us to break the pattern and shift to a healthier way of life.
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