Initially, most of our beliefs about everything in life come from our family. Our parents teach and unconsciously mold us by their behaviors and dictums from the day we are born, until we start school and may learn conflicting beliefs from other students and teachers. What we choose to retain as core beliefs influences the quality of our lives, and this is especially evident in what we believe about health and healing.
It’s important to discover where your beliefs come from. Do they come from the heart of your religion? Are they based on fears? Or are they an intuitive knowing that feels right to you? Fear or defeatist based beliefs are limiting and keep us from moving towards wholeness. So many times I’ve seen people dismiss medical treatment that would help them with their chronic illness with a sweeping statement like, “Oh, that’s poison—I’ll never take that.” Or as one person recently told me, “Everyone dies from this disease. Always. There’s no use trying anything.” They certainly have the right to choose no treatment at all, but a decision that originates from fear without consideration of all the facts, is unwise.
I worked with a young Hopi woman who wanted to sage the chemotherapy medication before receiving an infusion for her cancer. When the doctor told her she couldn’t do this because other patients might be sensitive to the fumes and there was flammable oxygen nearby, she became angry, saying white people wouldn’t let her carry out her religion. After talking with her, she agreed to modify her beliefs about the purification process by touching the medication with the unlit sage stick and doing her prayers. The intention brought the healing power, I suggested, and her Kachina gods would understand. Flexibility is called for, not dogma.
One set of beliefs you may want to examine closely is your thinking about the course of your illness and how it will turn out. Rather than reinforce a belief that you will suffer greatly or not have a meaningful life while ill, open your mind to all possibilities. Whether you will recover or get worse or die soon, is unknown, and the quality of your life will be greatly enhanced when you examine the source of these beliefs carefully. Perhaps you can prevent negative thinking from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m not suggesting that you limit your thoughts to positive thinking, but that as you consider the reality of your illness you open yourself to all possible outcomes. Examine your beliefs about your karma, fate, heredity, good and bad luck, and personal worthiness. As you trace the origin of these beliefs and open to all possibilities, it’s like cutting heavy stones from your shoulders, creating a lightness that is healing to your bodymind.
Excerpted from Carolyn’s book, Through the Dark Forest: transforming your life in the face of death