I’ve just finished reading the book The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks, and it has some interesting ideas that I believe are relevant to anyone wanting to recover from CFS. I had to get past the New Age business about channeling messages from non-physical beings in order to access the wisdom in the book, but with that done:
The first idea is that you get what you focus on in life, rather than what you want. Now given the intensity of the symptoms associated with CFS, it’s natural that we end up spending a lot of time focusing on our symptoms. After all, the whole point of physical symptoms is to get our attention. But I found that focusing on my symptoms simply set up a vicious cycle of anxiety that probably just made the symptoms even worse. Better to focus on activity that ultimately makes us well than on symptoms that just create more suffering.
The other idea from the book that resonates with me is what they call our Emotional Guidance System. The idea here is that our unconscious mind sends messages about what is important to us via our emotions. If the emotion is pleasant, it tells us that were on the right path. If the emotion is unpleasant, that tells us that we are headed in the wrong direction and need to turn around.
This is very similar to the idea in Mickel Therapy that our symptoms are simply trying to tell us something important, and that we need to start paying attention to what they’re saying if we want to get well again. It’s just that as highly sensitive people, the messages appear as debilitating physical symptoms rather than just as emotions.
Most of my life, I considered my emotions to be an inconvenience at best, and a massive problem to deal with at worst. So the idea that they could actually be a useful guidance system is intriguing to me. It seems obvious when you think about it that our emotions are telling us important information, but I have to admit that most of my healing journey has been about trying to get my challenging emotions to go away by expressing them, rather than to listen to what actually trying to tell me.
Much of the book talks about creating the life we want by imagining a future associated with positive emotions rather than focusing on negative emotions associated with our current reality. Now there’s nothing new about the idea of imagining being well when you’re feeling unwell, but an interesting point that they add is that if what you imagine is too different from your current reality, it’s likely to be associated with unpleasant emotions rather than pleasant ones; because it seems unachievable.
For instance, if you can’t even imagine being 100% better, you’re likely to feel unpleasant feelings when you think about it. In that case, they would suggest that you imagine feeling just a little bit better, but perhaps not 100%, so that what you imagine still seems realistic enough to have positive emotions attached to it. Think a constant stream of thoughts that have positive emotions attached, and your find yourself feeling better and creating the life you really want.
This sounds blatantly obvious once you’ve heard it: Of course all of us are motivated to have more pleasant emotions and less unpleasant ones. And I have to admit that I wonder how the role of past trauma factors into this, where we’re left with emotionally charged memories that leave us with a distorted sense of reality. Conventional emotional healing wisdom says that you have to be willing to feel the unpleasant emotion in order to heal it. I think Hicks would say to just continue thinking thoughts that generate pleasant emotions, and don’t worry about all the trauma in your unconscious mind. Maybe I’ll ask her when she visits Sydney in September.
The other interesting point from the book is what they call The Art of Allowing, which is very similar to the Buddhist notion of acceptance. They’re particularly big on allowing other people to be who they are, to do what they do, and to have the experience that they currently having, rather than trying to fight with other people all the time. I can see how much of the stress in my life has come about by not accepting that other people are the way they are.
The other aspect of allowing, is allowing yourself to have what it is that you want: the health that you want, the vitality that you want, the fun that you want, the energy that you want, the relationships that you want. In short, the life that you want.
The final idea in the book is what they call Segment Intending, which is the idea of breaking your day down into small segments each of which have an achievable positive emotionally charged intention; rather than trying to tackle everything in one hit. A bit like clearing things off your To-Do list one at a time to avoid overwhelm. Every time you have a small segment of your day with positive emotions, you’re heading in the right direction.