I am hoping that your 2018 is starting off with a lot of love 🙂
One exciting and loved filled venture that I am going to be doing this year is teaming up with my dear friends over at Grounded Nutrition to talk about physical/mental/emotional healing. Each month we are going to focus on a different body system, and providing suggestions for what you can do to support this part of your being with dietary suggestions, supplement suggestions, holistic lifestyle habits and finally how that body system is mirrored in the spiritual being and how you can work with both to create order on all levels.
With that, I am going to be posting the 'spiritual suggestions' for each month here on my blog as part of the Monday Musings lineup.
I hope you enjoy our explorations of the body, health and how all the levels of the being work in tandem.
Without further adieu, here is article one!
Your Immune System And Your Boundaries:
Being that this is the beginning of a brand new year, now is the perfect time to take a good look at all the things in your life that are serving you, all the things that are not and to really reflect on how you want to move forward so that you can feel even more vibrant and alive as we make the transition into 2018.
Collectively at this time we all feel that rush of ‘newness’ - the desire to re-evaluate, declutter, set new goals and intentions and what better place to start than with your health? This year, rather than setting some steep ‘resolutions’ or looking to completely overhaul your entire way of being only to find yourself exhausted and frustrated come the end of February, why not take a few steps back, settle into yourself and ask yourself a few questions that may serve to actually foster lasting positive change in your life? Why not take advantage of all the ‘restructuring’ energies and put them to really GOOD and PRACTICAL use?
In keeping with the ‘Immune System’ theme we have going for the month of January, I thought it would be pertinent to talk about the more ‘energetic’ aspects of the immune system, what it means for us and our boundaries, and how we can use the metaphor of what the immune system stands for to gauge where we may want to re-adjust our ways of relating with ourselves and others so as to support a more vibrant physical experience.
The thing is, no one likes getting sick. No one likes feeling like their body is run down, tired, worn out and stretched beyond its capacity to cope. When you think of your immune system, you may think of it as your ‘defense’ system - the part of your body that is designed to fight foreign invaders and ward off disease. This is not all together ‘wrong’ - but we can also look at it in a more dynamic way that will serve to open our eyes to other aspects of our lives that may need re-adjusting.
With a more holistic view, we can look at the immune system like a mirror for our boundaries.
Where we are allowing things enter our being that do not need to be there, where we are projecting our energy into places where it is not needed and thus unnecessarily draining our own stores, and where we are not able to discern this leakage or boundary crossing is happening and thus not taking the appropriate action to remedy the situation.
Boundaries Are Everything:
In this world you most likely have a million demands placed on you during any given day. You may have co-workers and bosses that depend on you, children or adult family members that need your love and care, partners who expect certain things from you - not to mention the society at large that imposes huge expectations of what you are supposed to look like, feel like, act like and be experiencing.
We have all been raised in a world where we are constantly being drawn outside of ourselves, looking at the world for what it is we are supposed to be providing, as well as what we are supposed to be experiencing/expressing/desiring/having and so on. All of this can become a never ending energy suck that leaves you feeling exhausted, burnt out, out of sorts and sick most if not all of the time.
You may not even notice that you are feeling stretched beyond your limits until something ‘breaks’ because you are simply SO USED to feeling overdrawn. We, as a culture, tend to wait until we fall sick, get a scary diagnosis, experience a traumatic mental/emotional breakdown, get so over taxed we literally can’t keep up with everything we have taken on so important balls start to get dropped or until something equally earth shattering takes place before we decide we are going to do something different. Either that or we find ourselves in a never ending loop of ‘working really hard’ to be all the things you need to be, finding ourselves indulging in self sabotaging behaviors like over eating, drinking to excess, watching too much mindless t.v, gambling, yelling at our partners or descending into periods of deep anxiety or depression with no idea why these things are so out of control and why we can’t stop engaging even when we see how destructive they are.
All of this is not a sign of your weak will or lackluster body. These are all signs and symptoms of a system that is being overdrawn by the demands of a life that is too much.
Sickness And Self Sabotaging Behaviors Are A Boundary Issues:
If you resonate with any of the above described scenarios - your body/mind is speaking to you. It is letting you know that there is imbalance in your way of living, and that this imbalance needs to be corrected lest you continue to fall sick no matter how well you eat/how many supplements you take or that you wind up with self sabotaging behaviours you are never able to remedy and rectify.
You see, when we are getting sick all the time, this is a message from the body that there is simply too much stress and not enough nourishment coming into the body. This is showing you that despite your best efforts, you don’t have the energy required in your being to keep yourself healthy. This is usually due to a combination of expending too much energy in areas of your life that are not actually your responsibility as well as giving too little energy to the places in you that need support.
When we are lost in a cycle of self destruction what this shows us is that we are dependent upon stimulating/numbing coping mechanisms to get us through our days. Every self sabotaging behaviour is either going to be something you are using to numb yourself (think eating, drinking, binge watching t.v) or to stimulate yourself (think drugs, risky sexual behaviour, over spending, creating dramas in relationships/being constantly out of control of your emotions and projecting them onto others) so as to give you the ‘boost’ you need to keep pouring out energy to a system that is draining you.
It is all a sign that your boundaries are leaky and are in need of a tune up.
What Leaky Boundaries Look Like:
This information may be challenging, but it is important to start to look at these things with an honest eye so as to give ourselves the chance to come into balance. Our society right now is based on a fundamentally draining structure - everyone has been taught through our societal values to live in a way that is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the human organism. We have all been reared to believe that certain things are ‘good’ and ‘right’ and ‘noble’ that are actually totally destructive to the self and therefore to the world at large, and at the same time we have been told that certain things are ‘selfish,’ ‘lazy’ or ‘unproductive’ that are in truth vital to wellbeing. Your culture does not have it right, and this is why trying to live up to the cultural expectations that currently exist always lead to illness, distress and feelings of something not being ‘right.’
Bellow we are going to look at a few of the main leaky boundary teachings that you are most likely unknowingly participating in so that you have the power to identify where your leakages are and how to rectify them.
Emotional Suppression: This is the first and most important boundary leak that we face in the Western World. Most of us have been taught from day one that there are ‘good’ emotions/emotional expressions and ‘bad’ emotions/emotional expressions. We have all been taught to over emphasize certain feelings and characteristics and to suppress others. This is not something that is universal either - each household/family will have their own ‘code of ethics’ when it comes to emotions and emotional expression that will dramatically shape how each child sees, feels, expresses and experiences their emotions. With this emotional education, children are stunted in their learning process.
What we have to realize and recognize is that ALL emotions have their place in the human experience, and when properly processed ALL emotions can and do lead to productive, positive life enhancement. It is only when we stunt the emotional expression so as to never get to the true root of WHY we were feeling what we were feeling so that that thing can be remedied or processed in other ways that the emotion turns destructive.
For instance, in some families anger and rage are complete no-no’s. Meaning when a child experiences frustration or anger over something not going how the child expected it to go, rather than being allowed to go through the learning process of seeing that frustration can be a great motivator to do things we have never done before and to persevere even when challenges arise (such as the frustration a baby experiences when it is learning to go from crawling to walking) OR learning that sometimes things go in a way we don’t expect and that this too is simply a learning opportunity for how reality works - instead we are faced with a situation where we feel totally disempowered and helpless to circumstances that did not turn out how we wanted them too.
The suppression of this frustration/anger actually inhibits our ability to feel that we have power in our lives to learn, grow, change and adapt - and leads us to feeling like we are victim to our circumstances.
If a parent has never learned to handle their anger/frustration so as to allow themselves to learn and grow from life rather than feeling like a victim to it, they are likely to be the kind of parent that is explosive with their anger but never PRODUCTIVE with it. There is never a resolution or an empowering end to the rage, only a cycle of unmet expectation being expressed through emotional outbursts as a way of letting off steam. This education that anger is wrong and bad leaves us feeling disempowered and weak - which leads to more and more anger being felt and expressed in unhealthy ways.
On the other side of the coin, if we are raised in a household that was overly emotional on the dramatic side of things we see the same kind of trauma. If all a child sees is a wildly sad/mad/depressed/overly enthusiastic parent who does not seem to be able to see why their emotions are coming up and what to do about them again the child learns that some emotions are good and some are bad, and this leads to even more of a victim mentality.
The Solution Here Is This: We need to start to connect in with ALL of our emotions with the perspective that they are there for a reason. Our emotions are messengers to us about what is and what is not in alignment with our highest good/well being, and we need to become mature enough to be with these emotions, to mature them and to decipher the messages they are sending to us.
There are no bad emotions, only unintegrated and misunderstood emotions.
Codependency: From here, we will start to realize that that resentment/anger/frustration/fatigue/overwhelm or any other negative emotion you have is actually showing you where you are letting someone overstep your boundary. That anger is encouraging you to say 'no' where you usually say 'yes.' That fatigue and overwhelm are not signs that you are wrong, bad, weak or lazy but rather signs that again you are draining your energy by engaging in relationships or habits within relationships that are asking too much of you/are out of synch with that which would be beneficial for both parties.
You will start to realize that in your over giving/compromising your boundaries you think you are helping others. You are helping them avoid pain or discomfort by fixing things for them or otherwise helping to distract them from their own pain. This is something you will come to see as not only being harmful for you, but harmful for them as well. We need to experience the pain of our out of alignment with truth actions in order to rectify our behaviour so as to live a life that actually serves us. If we are running around all the time trying to rescue everyone from their pain all we are really doing is rescuing them from the messenger of their pain, not the pain itself.
On the flip side, if there is a tendency to over use those in your life, to be overly self focused and demanding of others there will be pain, exhaustion and discomfort in YOUR being as well. Sometimes we are not aware where we are over asking for others to rescue us and protect us from the consequences of our actions, and this leads us to big crashes when the other person is not able to shield us at every turn. The other person is ALWAYS going to fail at some point to measure up to your expectation of them/your desire for them to serve as a barrier between you and the consequences of your way of being, and if this is so and you tend to go into blame and projection of your partner - this is something that needs to be looked at within your being. If we are needing those around us to act in a certain way so that our peace is possible, we are being codependent. It is never anyone's job to be something for you so that you can be happy. If this is the case, there are leaky boundaries afoot! Often times there will be a resistance to take responsibility for our own pain and the consequences of our actions here, but this is the work that must be done to remedy the lose boundaries for both parties.
The root of the pain is out of alignment living. The pain is only the symptom. When we sacrifice ourselves for another, we actually sacrifice both parties. No one actually wins. We may feel better in the moment, but overall we are hurting still because the root hasn’t been addressed. Setting up healthy boundaries may at first seem to cause others pain, but in fact we are only revealing the pain that was already there and thus giving everyone an opportunity to choose to worth through it or stay stuck in it.
When we realize our emotions are not wrong, we can start to figure out what they are saying. In this we will start to see where we are leaking our energy by not honoring what we need and thus where we are harming ourselves. If we are brave enough to follow the emotions and to take responsibility for where we are over giving, we will find that our tendency to be sick decreases dramatically.
The Solution Here Is This: As we honor our emotions and work to start living in a way that serves to nourish what we need, we will see that we serve to honor what EVERYONE needs - maybe not what everyone wants right now, but what is actually for the highest good of everyone in the long run. We see that we were acting in a way that was motivated by trying to get eternal love and approval because we were not giving ourselves any internal love and approval.
Self Loathing: Finally, the biggest boundary leak we have cultivated in today's world is that of self loathing.
None of us have been taught that we are capable of being the source of the love we so desperately seek.
This is not to say that we are all to move towards becoming independent islands who never want for the love or affection of anyone else ever again - but it is to suggest that if we are abandoning what we know is good and right for ourselves, if we are compromising so as to be degrading our health, we are showing ourselves that we are lacking the capacity to love ourselves enough to honor what we need even when this makes others unhappy in the moment.
This agreeing to do whatever is expected of us so as to earn outside love and acceptance is rooted in self loathing. Meaning it is rooted in the idea that we are not worthy of love from within, that we must be told from the outside that we are good and acceptable before we are allowed to feel good and acceptable. We are believing that unless the outside world deems us worthy of love, we automatically assume we are not. We default to self hate, to self criticism, to self rejection rather than defaulting to self love and appreciation.
Meaning we do not do what we want to do, we say 'yes' when we mean 'no,' we say 'no' when we mean 'yes,' we do things for appearances, we judge and criticize ourselves when we can’t fit in or do what is ‘expected’ - all because we do not have the capacity to approve of ourselves no matter what the external world thinks.
We cannot have healthy boundaries if we are moving from self loathing. We cannot have health if we are moving from self loathing because in self loathing we will ALWAYS compromise what we need to serve the unhealthy desires of those around us, who are also working from self loathing. It is a cycle - those who place demands on you that are out of alignment with what is truly good for you, are also hurting themselves. They too are rejecting who they are and demanding that YOU love them where they are not willing to love themselves. This cycle goes round and round until someone breaks it.
The Solution Here Is This: Choosing to love and approve of you in this moment so much that you are willing to disappoint people, to say no when you mean no, to say yes when you mean yes, to honor your feelings and your body when they need rest or reprieve is the most important thing you can do for yourself, your boundaries and your immune system. This is going to be a huge challenge for most, and that is ok. There will be may times when you fall back into self loathing behaviors and this needs to be seen as all a part of the journey. When you allow yourself to disappoint others, to do what you need to do for you - and you allow yourself to RELAX while you do it, telling yourself that 'it's ok' when all those fears of being unloved and becoming a selfish person arise, you will find that this gets easier and easier. The gentler you can be on yourself while you move in the direction you know you need to move in, the more effective this process will be.
If you are finding yourself constantly run down, feeling like you are doing everything ‘right’ physically but can’t figure out why you keep getting sick, why you keep getting tired out or why your body seems to be shutting down on you - you can find the answers. They are within you. In your boundary keeping.
Here’s to your good health.