Are we defined by our health? I recently started psychologist Ken Wilbur’s book Grace and Grit. This book has been on my list for quite some time. I have been putting off reading it due to the parallels to Beth and I’s own experience. The book follows Ken and his wife Treya’s journey through her diagnosis of breast cancer and ultimately her death. Beth and I were blessed to have gotten through her diagnosis of non-hodgkins lymphoma not much worse for wear, but the book still brings up many memories.
An important concept Wilbur brings up is how as a species deal with disease two ways. We treat it physiologically, and we try to derive meaning out of it. This attached meaning in many cases can decide whether we beat it or don’t beat it, heal or don’t heal. Before modern medicine discovered how many diseases develop, it was often blamed on a persons deeds or weaknesses. As a society we look at cancer as evil, dark, mysterious, forbidding. Then can take an enormous mental toll on the person who is afflicted, no matter what the prognosis. They can start to define themselves as a victim of something, or become extremely bitter in a seemingly unjust situation.
This not only applies to something as serious as cancer. Our everyday health, how our joints feel, how much weight we’ve gained, how tired we feel, can take on extra meaning if we attach to it the thought that “i’ve inherited the fat gene’, or “work is so stressful that I haven’t been sleeping well”. It is important to separate what is happening to us from who WE are. As soon as we let our stress, our weight, our various illnesses define who WE are then we become one with the affliction. You are not defined by your weight or health at all. The moment you step outside and observe what you would like to change or see, the easier it becomes to separate yourself from the result. This is not to say we can let ourselves go because we “aren’t” our body. This is to say you are not defined by it. This liberates you to make clearer decisions on how you would like your body perform, what you might want it to look like. You are more than all of those little problems you see in yourself, and you certainly are not defined by them.
Yours in health,
Elliot and Beth
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Elliot Steele is a Primal Health Coach based in Chelan WA. He strives to empower those looking to regain their health after a lifetime of misinformed practices. This is the essence of Steele Back Your Health, to truly learn how to be healthy with sustainable habits. Check out the coaching and blog page for more info!