“Sure are a lot of folks with autoimmune disorders these days,” he remarked casually, as we strolled down the beach.
“Certainly are,” I agreed. “And what’s remarkable, is the wide array of autoimmune diseases.” The ocean was quite calm and while our significant others were taking it easy by the pool, we were enjoying a relaxing day in the sun. It had been a few years since the four of us had vacationed together and we were having a ball, which made the topic of our conversation seem rather odd.
“Not to mention, ubiquitous. It seems like everyone nowadays has an allergy,” I agreed.
“Yes, and those are just the more common conditions. What about the lesser known diseases like rheumatic fever, meniere’s disease and the like? They are afflicting a lot of people.”
I recalled what I had learned in school about autoimmunity, that it occurs when an organism fails to recognize its own parts, thus causing an improper immune response. It’s similar to what happens when the immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance as harmful, and attacks it, for example, ragweed or gluten. In the case autoimmunity, the immune system actually mistakes specific body parts as pathogens and thus, attacks them. “It’s very puzzling indeed,” I mused. “That the body, that is, the immune system, turns on itself.”
“A form of imploding. Sort of like cancer.”
“I wonder what could cause such a thing to happen?”
“Well, purely on a physical level there seems to be a number of possible factors, including poor diet and a high level of toxins, but I have another theory,” he offered. “Although, it’s certainly not a new idea, because people like Louise Hay have been talking about this for years.”
“Talking about what?” I inquired eagerly, picking up and tossing back an errant Frisbee that had landed at my feet.
“The mind-body connection. Or more specifically, the emotional root cause of disease,” he replied, as we continued on our way. The soft white sand felt like a gentle powder underneath our feet.
“Why, do you think autoimmune disorders have an emotional connection?’
“Absolutely! I believe all physical illnesses do.”
“What do you think it is?”
“What causes anything to turn on something else?”
“Definitely! Anything else?”
“At the risk of asking a dumb question, you mean the body hates itself?”
“Not quite. It’s a subconscious thing. There is a part of us that hates our self,” he said, tapping himself on the chest.
“You mean self loathing.”
“Yes, it’s very common.”
By now, the sun was directly overhead and it was getting quite hot, so we decided to head back to the pool.
“But why would we hate ourselves?” I inquired, continuing the conversation.
“A more appropriate question might be, ‘why wouldn’t we hate ourselves?’ When you think of the number of children who grow up being abused, abandoned, neglected, harshly punished, ridiculed, scorned, bullied, ignored, chastised, criticized, trying to live up to unrealistic expectations or simply told they were bad, it’s a wonder anyone loves themselves.”
“It sure does,” I agreed.
“We grow up holding on to all this anger … especially boys, because it’s much easier to feel anger than it is to feel rejection and grief … and we think our parents don’t love us, so how can we possibly love ourselves.”
What he said made a great deal of sense and I was about to relate my own childhood experiences that were likely at the root of the various health issues I had experienced, when my friend continued his analysis.
“And then, because of our anger, we compound matters by doing things that are inappropriate. We’re unkind. We bully, lie, cheat and steal. We know that what we’re doing is inappropriate and yet we can’t seem to help ourselves, which unfortunately, just adds shame and guilt to the mix, in part, because we feel like we’ve let our parents down.”
“What a paradox,” I lamented, shaking my head. “We blame ourselves for something our parents created?”
“It seems that way, because when we’re young, we believe everything our parents say and every time it happens we’re emotionally wounded and so we end up with all these wounded little children inside us.”
“Definitely a paradox,” I remarked, spying the pool off in the distance, which at the moment, seemed to be packed with high-spirited vacationers.
“What about all the little kids who are born with autoimmune conditions or develop them at a very young age, before they’ve been exposed to all these bad experiences?”
“I believe there are two potential explanations. First, it’s possible that babies take on the emotional woundings of their parents at the time of conception and during pregnancy.”
“That makes sense,” I agreed as we rounded the corner at the opposite end of the pool enclosure.
“And secondly, it’s quite possible that we bring our emotional woundings forward from our previous lives … in our DNA.”
“Better be careful who you repeat that one to,” I kidded. “You might get burnt at the stake.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “It seems that we haven’t evolved much beyond that type of barbarism.”
“So how do we go about healing these diseases?” I asked, actually having a pretty good idea of what his answer might be.
“Three things. We need to start with a healthy diet … and I mean healthy,” he replied sternly. “Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system is out of balance, and since 80% of the immune system is situated in the gastrointestinal tract, a healthy diet is imperative. Healing simply won’t occur without it.”
“We need to heal and release our unresolved emotional pain, which for most people means finding a good therapist. We need to express it. Talk about how we feel about the experiences that wounded us. Get it out there. Cry if we need to. Scream and punch a pillow if we need to. Whatever it takes. We also need to forgive our parents and anyone else who wounded us.”
“And third?” I inquired.
“We need to work on feeling good about ourselves. Healing our emotional pain will help, but we also need to practice loving ourselves. Standing in front of the mirror and saying, ‘I love you,’ helps. We also need to forgive ourselves. We need to remind ourselves that throughout our lives we have always done the best we could with what we had learned.”
“I suppose it would help if parents knew how to raise their children to feel good about themselves in the first place,” I said.
“Absolutely,” he agreed emphatically. “That would circumvent so much unnecessary pain.”
“Yes, but in the meantime, it seems like you’ve described a great process for healing all disease,” I exclaimed, jumping in the pool.
“Sure is,” I heard him holler as my head disappeared beneath the water.
Have a refreshingly awesome day!