Sometimes people won’t hear what you tell them, no matter how you say it. They have to experience it for themselves.

Have you ever had an argument, at work or in a relationship, where the other person finally came around to your point of view, in a completely frustrating roundabout way, instead of just listening to what you were trying to tell them in the first place?

This happens all the time, and I used to get so frustrated — why can’t they just listen to me, I’m spelling it out so clearly, it’s so obvious (to me)! One day I realized it wasn’t the words I used or the clarity of my argument or the passion of my conviction. Sometimes people just need to realize things in their own way, on their own time. They can’t be told, they need to be shown. They need to discover the evidence their mind needs, which is often not the same as what worked for yours.

This realization has saved me a lot of self-inflicted drama. And it’s also helping me avoid feeling completely silly about my own stubborn resistance to a lifestyle change that I probably was told I needed in a hundred different ways for too long.

Perhaps my story will help others on a similar path

There’s been a huge shift in my life over the last 6 months that I’ve struggled to put into words. Previous blog posts here reveal my struggles with adrenal fatigue, insomnia, and maybe I’ve mentioned my chronic back pain. I experimented with my diet, light therapy, chiropractic care, and more, always looking for some answers — what’s wrong with me?

Throughout my reading, the idea that these issues could be rooted in my mind came up time and again. That I just needed to let go and sit under a tree and think of nothing, man. I bristled against this suggestion. I did not like the idea that I was somehow thinking my way into my problems — this implied to me that my issues weren’t real. And they certainly felt real. I didn’t want anyone to tell me that it was all in my mind.

Robin Williams in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) illustrating this western ideal of our minds and our bodies existing as almost completely distinct separate entities

Like many of us, I was seeing my physical problems as separate, my mind separate from my body. I was convinced I had some sort of allergy that I hadn’t identified yet, or side effects from the physical structure of my spine… I was looking for something completely self-contained, diagnosable, if only I could ask for the right test to diagnose it.

Because if I could diagnose it, then I could treat it, and we’re all looking for a quick fix, aren’t we?

It was a diagnosis that eventually helped lead me toward accepting this idea that maybe there’s something to this woo woo stuff about meditation and gaining control of your thoughts. As I’ve mentioned previously, a doctor suggested I may have adrenal fatigue — finally, a label! Something I could read about! And read I did. And here we find the link between adrenal health and stress. A physical symptom made directly worse by the state of your mind.

I took steps to lower my stress. I reduced my hours in the office. I also cut down on social time and increased how much sleep I got each night. This definitely helped, but this alone wasn’t a sustainable solution. I felt my life had become nothing but work, sleep, and eat, and I was still unhappy.

I continued to look for other solutions. I had by this point read about meditation, and had tried it a few times. My apartment building even hosted a guided meditation session by a Tibetan monk, so I went. But I didn’t like it. It was hard, it hurt my back to sit still, I didn’t see the point. I was stubborn. I still thought maybe there would be a magic pill to solve all my problems.

My turning point came about in a strange way.

A few months earlier, I had a test result come back from a doctor that my thyroid was slightly low. Not crazy low, but since I was so tired all the time, it seemed worth looking into. I decided I wanted to be tested for Hashimoto’s Disease, an autoimmune disease where your body attacks your thyroid.

This sounds crazy, but I guess I was hoping I would test positive for Hashimoto’s. Yeah, crazy right?

My reasoning was this: If I caught it early, before it did too much damage, at least I’d have something to work towards. There would be tests with solid data showing me that I was getting better. And there’d be a point when I could say I’d recovered, I hoped, and then everything would be peachy.

Instead, I got an email from my naturopath with the good news that my tests were negative. I knew I should be grateful and feel relieved at this wonderful news.

But I didn’t.

I felt lost. Just as confused as ever. No answers for whatever was going on in my body.

My symptoms took an immediate downturn at that point. In one day, my back pain flared up worse than ever, my energy levels sank to an all-time low, my mood and attitude was down and suddenly it all made sense.

Clearly, my body was reacting to the state of my mind. The confusion, anxiety, depression, and stress I was feeling was obviously and directly leading to these physical symptoms — I could see this by the immediacy and severity of what I was going through and the timing of it to getting that note from my doctor. There was no other explanation.

Is this when I gave in and surrendered to my spirit guide? No, not really.

Continued — part 2