By Dr. Scott E. Rosenthal
If the wisest and most skilled doctor offered you advice about your body or mind, would you take it?
-Pretend you don’t.
Again he or she offers it, but this time with greater vigor and volume!
-Still you heed NOT the warnings!
Desperately falling to one knee, the wise healer claws at your waist, and with pleading eyes, he or she begs for your final acceptance.
-Peering down in annoyance, you declare that you do not have time for these trifling warnings. You plug into your IPOD and stride away, happily shutting this healer out of your consciousness.
You won’t be happy for long. Unbelievably, this brilliant doctor resides not Harvard or the Mayo Clinic, but within each of us. It lives in our inner intelligence! It uses a language of symptoms to help us learn how to maintain or regain a state of wholeness. Your deaf ear to your body’s many cries for change is one of the greatest threats to your good health!
Let’s face it; symptoms are not very pleasant. Pain hurts! It’s hard to make it through life depressed, inflamed, aching, swollen, bloated, itchy and smelly… in any combination… or all at once. Who wouldn’t want to escape with the handsome orange bottle wearing the white hat selling an 8-hour vacation from misery? Unfortunately, we must all eventually return home and pay the travel expenses.
Are you surprised when a disease seems to appear out of the blue? Of course you are. You think, “How did this happen all of sudden?” In the majority of cases, the tiny or even MASSIVE warning signs from your inner voice were repeatedly ignored. Sometimes for years! Why does this happen? The answer in most scenarios is that we CHOOSE for it to happen.
Why would we make such poor judgment calls? We are programmed early in life by a society that has become accustomed to relieving the suffering brought on by symptoms at the cost of addressing their causes. We have replaced personal responsibility, lifestyle education and living in balance within our natural environment with outside chemical crutches, compensators and suppressers. We have turned away from the wise inner voice of Mother Nature to the loud proclamations of Madison Avenue and Big Pharma. Additionally, we are prone to evading symptoms due to our cultural values. We must be “strong” and move on despite how we feel or what our bodies are telling us.
Symptoms large and small are like a breadcrumb trail. They are not the problem, but are outward signs that something is wrong. First they give warning, like a fire alarm or bright red dashboard oil light. Second, they help us to solve the problem. When followed, they can lead us out of a labyrinth of disintegrated health, dysfunction and breakdown. Early recognition of the presence of symptoms can spur us into action weeks, months or years prior to the onset of a major life threatening illness.
The following types of questions should be asked in order to better differentiate between a symptom and an underlying problem:
Is my heartburn a result of poor coping mechanisms for stress or having too few antacids in the bloodstream?
Is my back pain from spinal weakness, misalignments and lack of maintenance or inadequate amounts of hot baths and anti-inflammatory and muscle relaxant drugs in my veins?
If my shoulder pain is relieved by over-the-counter pain medications, is it wise to pop a few prior to playing softball or golfing each week?
High blood pressure, fatigue, menstrual pain, headaches, elevated cholesterol levels, asthma, diabetes, and anxiety are not only problematic, but can be outward signals of deeper issues.
It would be unreasonable to suggest that all symptom-oriented treatment is inappropriate. Decreasing chronic and/or severe suffering mentally or physically or stabilizing life-threatening conditions may be the only vital course of action. Sometimes, the true cause is beyond detection or incurable. In these cases, the risk of symptom treatment is outweighed by its benefit, BUT it is always wise to assess your options.
Symptoms are a trail of breadcrumbs set forth to lead us out of a labyrinth of lost health. Each time we choose to ignore the messages sent from within, we wander deeper into the cavernous depths of impending illness. Be willing to take the high road to wholeness, follow the crumbs, listen to the wise doctor within and make appropriate changes… this is one case where ignorance is NOT bliss!