I hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather.
This week I want to share some thoughts on one of the most important lessons that an illness can bring. When the relentless and humbling teacher we call disease comes into our lives, our instinct is to grasp onto whatever we can control. This isn’t a bad instinct. After all, the unknowns that comes with an illness and the unknowns that come with change are REALLY, REALLY SCARY!
In my experience, every aspect of illness and healing can be described in terms of momentum, and momentum is the beginning of control. The outcome of an infection or an inflammatory process depends on the momentum that the infection builds compared to the momentum of how your immune system can mount a response. The same can be said of anxiety and depression. Will the momentum of racing thoughts or dark nightmares into the abyss win out against the momentum of your emotional resiliency, mental stillness and spiritual hopefulness?
Another fairly obvious example is physical fitness. If you create the necessary momentum with consistent workouts, healthy eating and sufficient rest you will increase your fitness. If you don’t take care of yourself for years and years, the momentum of normal physiology and aging will get you into the first shape of your life. And then there is mindset. The momentum of positive thinking, staying focused on purpose and passion as well as the willingness to accept your wins and losses (lessons) will always transcend the momentum of negativity and self limiting beliefs.
So how does this relate to you?
The Barge Analogy
I often share a story with my patients to help them develop a conscious relationship with the process of recovering from any diagnosis of a disease. As a young man I once had the job of driving a barge. Basically, a barge is a giant boat that weighs many tons and deliver massive amount of cargo. The most frustrating part of driving a barge is when you suddenly have to turn around. Spinning the barge to face the other direction takes a while and you have to be careful depending on the cargo you are hauling. Once you are facing the other direction the hard part is actually gaining any momentum in the other direction. I remember once being about two miles along an eight mile trip when my employer called me on the radio and said “you have to come back as fast as you can”, apparently he had forgotten to load something important. So I turned the engine down and gradually turned the barge around. I was going a whopping ten miles an hour towards the east. After turning around I was going almost the same speed (east) I was just facing west. Given the way the cargo was stacked I could only accelerate so fast. I actually went just over another mile to the east before I was actually almost still on the water. It took quite a while to build up the same speed in the other direction and to actually pas the two mile mark where I first had to turn around. True story!
I share this with people because it mirrors exactly the process of going from illness to disease as well as going from disease to health. Once you get the message that you need to turn things around you may continue towards disease for a whileeven if you have turned your lifestyle and diet around. It takes each of us our own time, depending on our particular barge (body) and cargo (stress/trauma/genetics) to actually build up enough momentum to actually be going the other way and have the momentum to get to where we want to go.
What is important – scratch that… What is essential is to choose a direction and a result. Choose something that really matters and is within your reach. Focus on each step along the way and feel the momentum increasing. Remember that, at first, forward momentum is going to feel like going backwards – just a little slower.