Allergies. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Lupus. Crohn’s Disease. Eczema. Type 1 Diabetes.
Do you or someone you know have one of these conditions?
Mostly likely yes. Those of us in the developed world are plagued by autoimmune diseases, which each of these are. Autoimmune diseases occur when our own immune system fails to recognize a part of our own tissues or cells as part of us, and instead sees it as a foreign enemy. Attacking.
These are cases of mistaken identity.
We become our own enemy when in reality, we’re not.
I wonder though why we don’t have a classification for emotional autoimmune disorders? I’ve rarely met a human being who didn’t suffer emotionally from confusing themselves with the enemy, and following suit with attack.
Both physical and emotional autoimmune diseases are equally misguided attempts to protect ourselves. Our immune system thinks it’s helping.
Emotionally speaking, we so often think that if we shame ourselves, judge our hungers, and self-loathe that we’re making ourselves somehow better or safer.
We speak to ourselves with disparagement because we want to be loved or just liked.
We mistrust our hungers because we fear that feeding them will make us unlovable or judged by others.
We all have our own best interest at heart it’s just that our emotional immune system too often gets confused and thinks that we are the enemy of our self.
I may not be a doctor and I don’t know much about treating Lupus or Crohn’s Disease, but I do know a few tricks to get you on the road to recovery from an emotional autoimmune disease.
1. You must know that you are not the enemy. Take this as fact, even when reality appears different as these diseases effect our vision sometimes.
2. Know that any internal voice that is not kind, loving, or compassionate towards yourself is not speaking the truth.
3. Know that when you emotionally attack yourself your deeper intentions are good. You want the best for yourself, you want to be loved and somewhere along the way various sorts of self-attacks appeared the path to get there. They aren’t.
4. Healing depends 100% on your willingness to practice non-judgemental self-observation. You must notice your attacks, however subtle or seemingly harmless, and practice ending them. Notice. Let go. Make peace. Notice. Let go. Make peace. Mess-up. Start again. Notice. Let go. Make peace.
5. You must own your power for bringing this peace to your internal world. You must own your ability to decollapse yourself from this made up enemy. You already have everything you need to heal.
Like the first time you got behind the wheel of a car.
Like you’re first week at a new job.
Like when you attempt to use Photoshop for the first time, or try to understand a complex global issue, or find out your parent has cancer.
Holy sh*t, right?
It’s uncomfortable. Sometimes we want to quit. Sometimes we don’t want to own up to our big dreams (or hungers) if it means we have to own up to all that we don’t know. Often we want to just hire an expert. We want so badly to be the expert – right now.
In the 1970’s Noel Burch, of Gordon Training International, developed The 4 Stages of Competence, a fantastic map and model to help see us through not knowing. I apply this model not only to learning how to do something, but also to understanding concepts and topical information. The model goes like this:
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetency
This is when you’re totally unaware of what you don’t know.
Example: A 5 year old and driving a car. The child has no idea what it doesn’t know.
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetency
This is when you’re aware of all that you don’t know. (This is the stage I’m talking about)
For example: A 16 year old the first time they try to learn to drive a car. It’s crystal clear to them, all that they don’t know.
Stage 3: Conscious Competency
This is when you can do it or know it, but you’re fully aware of doing it or knowing it.
For example: A 16 year old, a month into driving a car for the first time. They can do it, but they are hyper aware of every gear shift, turn signal, and glance in the rear-view mirror.
Stage 4: Unconscious Competency
This is when you can do it without thinking about it.
For example: Anyone who’s been driving a car regularly for more than a year. It’s unconscious and they are totally capable.
Stage 2 is where I see us so often get stuck and give up. We’re afraid of getting it wrong, making mistakes, appearing stupid. We’d rather only do what comes easy. We’d rather turn a blind eye to what’s confusing. We’d rather pay someone to tell us the answer. We’d rather know it all this instant.
But it doesn’t work that way.
We have to start by knowing that we simply don’t know.
Only through staying with it – the curiosity, the dream, the desire to be competent and understand better. Only by being a student. Only by having patience do we wake up one day and know.
Not knowing is not the end point, if you don’t let it be.
Not knowing is just a step on the road to knowing more.
Kelly Wainwright, of Messy Monkey Arts, is a flashmob on legs. She simply bursts with creativity, joy, and a little rebelliousness. She’s gotten Desmond Tutu to jump on a bed. This photo was part of her Play, Jump, Eat project a photo series that blends beauty, joy, juxtaposition, play, and abundance…with proceeds going to charity. She’s a wild and wonderful woman…and yeah, well-fed too.
Kelly, what are you TRULY hungry for?
What’s a craving that you previously denied that you now happily satisfy? How has this impacted you?
What are you a conduit for? What comes through with ease, meaning, and spark?
Favorite bite in recent memory?
Are you following me on Twitter??
Are you a fan on Facebook??
Are you RSSing??
Are you well-fed??
I’ve had 15 or so years of psychotherapy.
Yep. Half my life. The better half.
I asked for it for Christmas at 13 years old.
Psychotherapy is but one of the notches on my branch to spiritual enlightenment (I said ‘on my way’) and radiant meaningful work in the world.
You know what played perhaps the biggest role? Books.
I venture to guess that for every exhale I’ve made I’ve given a book recommendation. Few of these books will be new to you, I imagine. Some are best sellers. Others are Oprah-approved. Do not be turned off by this or their location in the ‘self-help’ department. These books are popular because they are excellent and they labeled ‘self-help’ because they assist you to do just that.
Through these books I’ve experienced paradigm shifts that no one will ever be able take from me.
I’ve had concepts explained to me that I could never have understood from any other voice.
These books gave me words when I had none.
I’ve been validated, found kinship, and felt my connection to you and you and you simply because of the books I have read.
Here are 11 that have changed my life. One for every month of the year and a month off to digest.
Personally, I think this list is worth big bucks. If you read these books – you’re life will almost certainly get more awesome.
But it’s free and I invite you to read up.