Everyone wants to be healthy…don’t they??…
Most people who suffer from a long-term health complaint would have no hesitation in saying that they wish they were well again. After all, who wants to have unpleasant or painful symptoms and the inconvenience that illness can bring? It seems like a no-brainer.
However, being ill can bring us a host of perceived positive benefits, even if we also find the condition distressing or painful. When somebody claims to want to recover but makes little or no progress healthwise, it is sometimes the case that one part of them is sabotaging their efforts to regain their health.
The “pay-offs” of being ill may include:
– receiving more attention and nurturing than you normally would
– being excused from working or doing tasks you dislike or find stressful
– having time to yourself
– punishing someone close to you (“See how ill you made me!”)
– getting other people do do things for you/being able to control others
– being able to stay in your comfort zone and avoid scary challenges
It is sometimes difficult to unearth the pay-offs of being ill, as most people are very indignant at the thought that part of them might actually want to keep their health problem. A helpful way to find out if a part of you is actually benefiting from being ill is to ask yourself, “What would my life be like if I were healthy?” or “How will my life be different when I am well?” and let yourself daydream or visualise how it would be.
When I was at the stage where my health had begun to improve, I found that I often had a flare-up of Crohn’s disease just as things were going really well for me. I discovered that when I pictured myself being completely well and healthy, out doing things and full of energy, I sometimes got an uncomfortable emotion that I couldn’t explain. EFT is wonderful for getting to the bottom of emotions when you don’t know what they are about, so I did some tapping. I discovered that I had two negative beliefs about being well.
The first was “When I’m healthy, I’ll have to be out there doing stuff all the time – I’ll never get to just lie in bed reading, dreaming and thinking” – something I very much enjoy, and which I do when I am unwell.
The second was “When I’m well and strong, I won’t be able to ask my husband to help me with difficult stuff – I’ll have to do lots of difficult things on my own, with no support at all!”
Although these beliefs may been silly or irrational to a healthy person reading them, they seemed very real to me. Luckily, applying EFT to a fixed belief you have is a bit like applying WD-40 to a rusty hinge – it loosens it up and gets things moving again. When you examine your beliefs with the added insight that EFT brings you tend to see that they have been formed as a result of certain experiences, and are not actually the way things are, or have to be.
In fact, being unable to allow myself to rest and relax, or to ask for support, may well have contributed to my becoming unwell in the first place. Learning to give myself permission to rest and do things I enjoy for no other reason when I feel the need, or to ask for and expect support from those close to me, has been part of my healing. Similarly, someone who fears, deep down, that they will cease getting love and attention if they become well again, needs to tap on issues of self worth and being loveable in themselves without having to be ill…and someone who conveniently becomes ill and unable to do a challenging activity they feel nervous about could tap away their fears and either feel able to tackle the challenge or decide it wasn’t for them – without becoming ill. Uncovering this sort of “hidden” belief or pay-off can be incredibly useful, contributing to your both your health and happiness.
Chronic illness can be complicated and mysterious in its causes and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that everyone who suffers from a long term condition is hanging on to it for the sake of enjoying its benefits. However, I have found that investigating and tapping on the possibility that there is a part which actually wants to be unwell has resulted in real progress health-wise for many of my clients – and myself.