“I’m in the fight against cancer.”
“I’m battling diabetes.”
“I’m threatened with high blood pressure.”
“I have an autoimmune disease, so my body is attacking itself.”
This is what I call body war language.
Our language so often falls short of describing truth, which may leads to minor misunderstanding or catastrophic results. In the case of body war language, I believe that we set ourselves up for disaster by using totally inappropriate words to depict what is actually happening.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habit. Watch your habit, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Lao Tzu said. When it comes to body war language, we reach the same conclusion in a different pattern:
“Watch your words, they become your thoughts. Watch your thoughts, they becomes your health. Watch your health, it becomes your destiny.”
I am not a war zone
When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease, doctors told me it would be a lifelong battle to prevent my body from further attacking itself. I envisioned my body as a war zone, with my healthy colon tissue being destroyed by an innately evil part of my physiology, that had, until now, laid in wait.
Just like our thoughts determine our words, our words shape our thoughts. When we use “war language” to describe health conditions, we illustrate a battlefield inside our body. We begin to understand our inner workings through a lens of “good vs. bad.”
In the case of cancer, we perceive the tumors as “bad” and other cells as “good.” When it comes to something as mild as cellulite, we describe our thighs with a torrent of negative language. Cottage-cheese thighs. Fat and ugly.
But I am not a war zone. You are not a war zone.
Disease is not bad. It does not mean something went wrong. It means our body is working as it should, drawing on protective measures to prolong our life in the short-term. The human body is innately intelligent and each day, it prioritizes how to extend our life in the short term.
When our body is bombarded with stress, environmental toxins, poor nutrition and negativity, it is forced to borrow health from our future to keep us alive. When we provide our body with nourishment and balance, we furnish the materials it needs for immediate health so that the innate intelligence can invest in our long-term health.
It took me years to stop hating my body for developing disease. I realized my body’s inner intelligence deserves my gratitude for keeping me alive by developing disease.
The body is not a war zone.
Your body is on your side. When we stop perceiving our body as an enemy, we can ask of it, “What are you telling me through symptoms and disease? What do I need to know to bring myself into balance?”
You’ll be surprised where that line of questioning will take you. It will bring you to a place of not only physical health, but also emotional and spiritual health. They are hard questions to ask, hard answers to hear. But it is so worth the asking, and so worth the listening.
Great article! Thank you Lauren 🙂
Great article, Lauren! Thank you so much for addressing this topic; talking negatively or using attacking language against our bodies is one of those little traps that most people so easily fall into. Yet, we can change the way we talk; words are powerful! I like how you broke this down so simply and gave great suggestions on how to change the way we talk to and about ourselves. Big smiles!
Crista Vesel, MSc Human Factors and Systems Safety
Thank you for not falling into the ‘binary opposition’ trap! Our culture encourages us to choose from two alternatives… ‘right/wrong’, ‘good/bad’, positive/negative’. Yet, there is so much more to the picture, especially when we are involved in a complex system. When humans are involved, it is always a complex system – one that can’t be predicted or controlled, one that is emergent and changes in unexpected ways. Treating disease as a ‘battle’ is a great example of a disempowering metaphor…. not useful for encouraging us to change in the future.
GREAT post Lauren. Thank you.
I was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis after experiencing my first “flare.” I was quite sick for several weeks, but am now back to yoga class, the gym, and work.
I’m 59 have been blessed up till now with great health. I am taking one medication, and my hope is that after I am healed internally that I can find a way to deal with this disease through stress reduction and diet. I don’t think we necessarily have to resign ourselves to life-long suffering. I believe our bodies want to heal themselves, and while we of course need medicines at times, (I’m not stupid) we do need to find root causes of things like UC and help our bodies heal naturally. Sadly, allopathic medicine does not always take that route, instead believing healing only comes from a pill. My hope is, like several people I have met, that I will eventually not need medication and restore my body’s balance naturally.
Excellent Blog Lauren.
Has anyone tried LDN (low dose naltrexone) for their UC? It apparently works wonders for many people.
I would be interested in hearing how this treatment has worked.