If you can answer one question, you will know how to answer all the others: “Who am I?” When you know the answer to this, you know the answer to all other questions. ~Deborah Norville
This week we start with a new topic – health. This includes not only physical but also mental and emotional health. These three elements are deeply connected and contingent on one another.
Good health starts with a state of mind. If I am caught up in the negative messages from my past, I cannot see myself as a healthy individual in any respect – physical, mental, or emotional. When those negative core beliefs about health prevail, they automatically lead to feeling incapable of making the choices and taking the actions that would lead to good health. So good health begins with what I believe about what I deserve in the way of health, not just physically but emotionally and mentally as well. Do I deserve a healthy body that gets plenty of exercise and healthy food for fuel, or am I caught up in old patterns of activity and eating that stem from false beliefs about who I am health-wise? Do I deserve to think well of myself and feel good about who I am? Is it okay to have feelings and experience those in a healthy way?
I was in my late teens when I was faced with a dilemma of whether or not I saw myself as a healthy person. My husband to be stood by my hospital bed and told me he could not marry me because I was too sickly. It was the second time in a three-month time period that I had been admitted to the hospital, mostly due to me not caring for myself, and truthfully I was operating under the premise that this was the way I garnered attention from the man in my life that I wanted to pay attention to me. My illnesses had been the one time that my father gave me attention. When my fiancé confronted me with his conclusion about our relationship and where it was going, I vowed to be healthy, and I have been very healthy since then. Ironically, what I did for someone else ended up serving me well in the long run.
Growing up I received the clear message that it was not okay to have or display emotions. I remember going to my grandfather’s hospital room and realizing that he would not live much longer. I was an adult, but in the elevator as we were returning to the car when my father admonishment me to dry up my tears, I dutifully did so. It was second nature for me to follow his dictates, especially when it came to emotions. Thankfully, I received a very different message from my family about how acceptable it was to seek help from a therapist. We had gone in for family counseling when my youngest brother had trouble in school. At that time, I remember thinking, “These people will listen to me.” Even though the session was not about me, I initiated and began seeing a therapist myself when I got a driver’s license at sixteen.
The hearts of small children are delicate organs. A cruel beginning in this world can twist them into curious shapes. The heart of a hurt child can shrink so that forever afterward it is hard and pitted as the seed of a peach. ~Carson McCullers
How emotionally, mentally, or physically healthy am I? How does do my core beliefs relate to my emotional, mental, and physical health?
We are, each of us, our own prisoner. We are locked up in our own story. ~Maxine Kumin