Set Yourself Free

Set Yourself Free

The Cloud

The woman in the ad is depressed. A gray cloud hangs, cartoon-like, over her head.

The announcer talks about a drug the woman can take for her depression. He speaks in a soothing voice. He clearly wants you to take the drug as well—for your depression. Now the cloud moves a few feet away from the woman. Is she free of it? No. It’s not gone; it’s just been pushed to the side. But the announcer acts as though great progress has been made.

Now we see the woman laughing, enjoying a beautiful summer day in the park; she smiles at her friends, her family. The little gray cloud follows along behind her, like a satanic pet. The woman has done the right thing, taken her medicine. She feels so much better. But, make no mistake, she has not actually been healed. She will need to keep taking her pills, perhaps for the rest of her life, to keep her depression, her gray cloud, from once again hanging over her head.

While the horrifying list of possible side effects, delivered in a slow, calming, reassuring voice, is reason enough to be repulsed by this ad (the drug may kill you but, hey, at least you won’t be depressed), It makes me cringe for another reason entirely: its insistence that a disease or condition belongs to the person suffering from it. The announcer was clear that the woman would always have a connection to “her depression.”

Got Disease?

A couple of years ago, a woman who was then a Reiki student of mine, and who was struggling with an autoimmune disease, once referred to the disease as “my Lupus.”

“Yuck,” I said. “Why would you refer to a disease this way?” I told her she made it sound like a friend of hers or, worse, a permanent part of herself, something she accepted, nurtured.

She explained that she’d been a member of a Lupus support group. The therapist had counseled the members that it was important to “own” their disease, to speak to it (speak to it?), to recognize it as an important part of their lives.

If the therapist meant that you shouldn’t be in denial, well, OK. But facing reality, recognizing that your body is ill and taking action in an effort to reclaim your health, is a far cry from owning a disease, making it your friend and companion—a cloud forever floating along behind you.

When you own a disease, you settle; you accept that the situation can never change, you cast yourself in the role of victim. You spend the rest of your life “managing” your illness, being its slave—heck, maybe even its lover. It embeds itself in your personality, and you begin to define yourself in terms of “your” illness, “your” disability, “your” addiction.


Do you Secretly Like Your Illness?

A client, once told me, “Some people don’t want to get better.” I found this statement shocking. How could anyone not want to get better?

What was interesting was that I had been working with the woman’s cat over the previous few months. The cat had been very ill when I began working with her, but our monthly sessions were keeping her happy, active, and (as far as we could tell) relatively free of pain.

The woman also had physical challenges, but although she had been thrilled by the dramatic improvement in her cat, she had nevertheless refused the offer of assistance for her own painful challenges.

Now, in a completely unrelated conversation, she was telling me, “Some people don’t want to get better.” Once I sorted the meaning out, I realized what a gift these words were, how deeply true and instructive.

People become attached to their illnesses, so attached that they cannot imagine their lives without them. They cannot imagine who they would be, what would fill the hole that the illness or condition had once filled.

What would you think about instead? What would you be able to do—be expected to do—if you were fully well?

Does your illness, your condition, your addiction hold you back in ways that you actually, deep down, appreciate?


Be Like the Animals

A wise healer once told me I didn’t have to own a condition I was suffering from, had been suffering from for several years. She told me to “give it to Spirit.” I did. It changed my life.

What is so difficult for many humans is so easy for the animals. I have never worked with an animal who did not quickly and completely give up any attachment to pain or sadness when offered healing. Even when they are terminally ill, when the end of their time on this sweet earth is near, they are always eager to embrace healing and to live their lives, not their conditions.