Attitude shapes health.
Our attitude to life – beliefs about ourselves, others and how we approach life – are based on, and formed in, our childhoods. I have noticed that the majority of my clients and others I know who have experienced Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (and other stress-related illnesses and mental difficulties) are often those who learned from a young age to attempt to control life to make it as predictable and safe as possible. These are often children who, for whatever reason, felt that they would not be held/nurtured/supported by others (physically and/or emotionally). What this may look like is the child who worries about Mom, Dad, siblings, friends and general life; who works extra hard in class and achieves in most things; who tries to help others and fix their problems. There may be rigidity in how they do things and a need for structure and systems. An illusion of control and predictability help the child to feel more secure when their environment and/or others around them are not very stable.
These behaviours and attitudes obviously follow through into adulthood and they require a great deal of energy to maintain. After all, it’s like herding cats – an impossible feat. We can never be perfect and control everything. So it’s an energy-sapping exercise to quell anxiety and to feel in control and the more things do not work out the more the control is emphasized. Eventually burnout is the only option.
The only way to stop this cycle and prevent burnout is to change your attitude to life and yourself.
Here are a few aspects of this change to consider:
Be more vulnerable. This may mean letting go of your standards, being honest with yourself, allowing yourself to have breaks more often, trusting others to be OK without your needing to do it all for them. Share your difficulties with others or even approach a professional to help you hold all that you are holding.
Nurture yourself. Pushing yourself punishes that little child part of you that only started out this way because he/she was desperately needing someone to provide nurturing and emotionally holding. Nurturing yourself gives the message to your inner child that she/he is safe and can let go of the holding, controlling and achieving to such an extreme.
Nurturing means being gentle to yourself in attitude and self-talk (yes, talk to your child-self. Acknowledge him/her and the fears/anxiety). Nurturing means warm baths, good food (healthy, wholesome food and not the sweets and fatty food that are mistaken for nurturing food. They just deplete the body further), walks in nature and a few minutes in the morning to breathe deeply. Also, laugh and have fun!
Listen to your body. When you keep pushing and needing it all to feel like it is under control there is very little time to tune in and feel what does not feel good. Tuning in can trigger vulnerability and can cause us to get in contact with the inner child. This can be scary. However, by disconnecting, we ignore the body’s signals that there is imbalance and the body will eventually floor you. In some cases, literally. Feel and acknowledge the gut issues, constant headaches, chronic tension etc and find a functional medical doctor, integrated medical practitioner or naturopath to help you find the root cause versus suppressing it with medication.
Notice when you are hungry and respond and feel what kind of food your body wants and does not like. Feel the emotional pain/discomfort that sits in your chest, throat, gut, even if only acknowledging it for a minute (acknowledging often helps relieve it). Go to sleep when you are tired.
All of this listening is a further form of nurturing yourself and the inner child that is looking for that. It will go a long way to helping you to feel safe to let go of the holding and pushing.
Don’t judge yourself. This is all a process of managing your attitude and approach to life that you will have to continue for the rest of your life to avoid falling back into old patterns. There will be times you will battle and there will be times you take steps back. That is fine and to be expected. Acknowledge, accept and start again from right where you are.
Value yourself and your life. We only have this one life and if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we have always got. Don’t miss an opportunity to be present in your life, enjoy your life, experience nurturing and, especially, to find peace.
Your attitude to life and your life is your choice and in your hands.
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