To bookmark:

Login or Sign Up

The Wisdom of a Symptom

One of the things that initially drew me to chiropractic and something that I continue to appreciate to this day is the unique perspective on sickness and health that the philosophy of chiropractic can offer. It creates a different language and framework for some of the “whys” surrounding why some people get sick, and others stay well, when living in similar conditions.

I have recently exited what was close to one year of being off and on sick, culminating in an acute illness after taking an international family trip. While what I went through, from the standpoint of a conventional diagnosis, had some names, the longer-term one being Lyme disease and the acute illness being bacterial pneumonia secondary to a respiratory virus, I’m going to offer a different perspective. Not on what happened but on the why. In fact, I’m going to take a leap and say that a major factor in all illness is the result of us living incongruently. And that the purpose of the illness is to reconnect us with our center so that we can live more authentically. This is somewhat different when it comes to our children being ill, so for the sake of this article let us consider that we are talking about adults…or rather human beings who have relative autonomy.

Living incongruently and off our center doesn’t just mean physically, although it could. It goes much deeper than that. Living off our center is living in a way not in harmony with our highest values and ideals. Living less than the full version of ourselves. Subluxated.

Now, living congruent with our highest values and ideals isn’t some selfish ideology where we’re putting ourselves first at the expense of those around us, as if this were some zero sum game. It’s much deeper than that. It means that we are living according to our highest values so that we can deliver our unique gifts to the world. Those unique gifts that only we can offer at the highest level possible. For who can serve others when they’re down and out? There is very little personal power for someone in that situation. Very little life-force energy to move the world.

When we are incongruent with ourselves, when we live in ways off center and out-of-balance, illness is a natural corrective action to get us to be more congruent with ourselves. This is the wisdom of illness. It’s the universal wake up call to get us to pay attention to what we’ve been avoiding and take responsibility for who we are in the world. And when we take full responsibility for who we are in the world, full responsibility for how we show up each day, we naturally make different choices regarding our lives, our health, and our well being.

So how was I off my center? Certainly, from an outsider’s perspective it wouldn’t have appeared that way. I probably looked pretty normal. But internally there were some significant loose ends in my life that I wasn’t addressing. The illness gave me a unique opportunity to address those loose ends and actualize more of my potential, that I always knew I had, but that I wasn’t fully stepping into. It had become far too easy to make excuses about why we weren’t where we wanted to be in life because of time, or energy, or stress, or kids, or all the other reasons we create in our head to make our lack of follow through ok. “We’ll get there eventually, won’t we?!” But really, I was evading myself. I wasn’t stepping into my power as a spouse, as a parent, and as a leader in our family and community. I wasn’t taking full responsibility for the conditions of my life.

I was staying up late playing video games and watching movies instead of sleeping or getting shit done. “It’s been a busy day, hasn’t it? Surely I deserve this.” OR, “I’m stressed so just gonna do this for a few hours to unwind.” And hey, if it’s true that I needed a break, no problem. I could authentically take a break, love it, and take full responsibility for it. But that’s not what was happening, and I knew it. My wife knew it too, and she tried to reach me but I wasn’t fully available. She had half a man supporting her, not a full man. We had our third child and instead of coming together like nothing else we disconnected like never before. Naturally, the illness came with the full force and wisdom of the universe in order to coax me to live more authentically. Because what my wife, my family, the world, and I really needed was to fully show up. I didn’t listen right away though, it took some time. At first I called BS on what was happening. And that was another layer of disconnect and denial. Finally, after the acute illness I was open and ready for change, and the change took place. And now, thankfully, each day I have a unique opportunity to connect with more of who I am and accept full responsibility for the conditions of my life. And you have the same opportunity each day as well. To take full responsibility for the conditions of your life.

So in closing, my challenge to you is this. Are you willing to fully show up? And if you missed a day, a month, a year, a decade, a moment, don’t worry. Here comes another moment… and it’s ready for you.