WILD IDEAS … musings for the mind, food for the soul.

Illness As A Teacher

In recent months, I’ve encountered more and more people inquiring about my counseling and creativity services who struggle either with chronic pain or illness, or with a psychological complaint for which no clear medical solutions exist.

Typically, these individuals have been making the rounds, consulting with a variety of traditional and nontraditional physicians, sometimes for years, with little or no improvement in their condition.

As each promised cure fails to bring the desired outcome—or the side effects prove unendurable—they become increasingly tired, hopeless, and often, angry with their doctors, angry with life, and angry with their bodies for betraying them.

The challenge of chronic pain and/or illness.

Not feeling well, not feeling like ourselves, is one of the most difficult states to endure. During the initial phases of chronic disease, we tend to see our affliction as an invader. All we really desire is to be restored to our former state of health and well-being. We seek a potent cure powerful enough to blast the marauder out of existence so we can continue on with life as it was before we became ill.

During these early stages, we may feel locked into mortal combat with something inside ourselves we often don’t entirely understand. Feelings of helplessness, fear, frustration, and depression arise when we try and try to do something to fix the problem but nothing we try seems to work. By the time people call me they are ready to surrender to something completely new—they are ready to heal.

Healing is not curing.

Healing and curing are entirely different. Curing happens at the level of the body. To cure implies the elimination of physical symptoms with little or no involvement on our part.

We put ourselves in the hands of people with more knowledge and training than ourselves. We go through mysterious procedures and/or take medicines dispensed by an expert. So long as we follow medical recommendations and instructions, we can be completely unconscious about the details of our recovery and still get well. The marvels of modern medicine cannot be overstated in this regard.

On the other hand, the natural process of healing requires active, conscious participation. Whereas curing happens to you, healing can only happen with you.

When we speak of a cure, we inhabit a reality that is very black and white; either we have recovered or we have not. When we decide to heal, however, we willingly enter the realm of mystery. We must learn to live within a more ambiguous reality.

The fact that a person can heal from an illness without actually recovering completely is an example of such a paradox. We can even heal in the midst of illness and eventually die from it. No matter what your condition or level of pain, healing is always possible, even if curing is not.

Intrigued? Want to know more about healing vs curing?

Check out my services at Body-Centered Healing. Read my FAQ page: Question #9 focuses on chronic pain. Or Contact me for a 20-minute complimentary phone consultation. Read related posts: My Adventures With Chronic Pain and Strategies for Coping with Chronic Pain and Illness.