At the core of natural medicine is a strong belief that the human body is designed to heal itself. Our main job in taking care of our bodies is to protect it and give it the tools and environment that it needs to thrive and, if something bad happens, to heal.
To do this, we have to “get to know” ourselves. Let me explain.
I was born into an unhealthy environment, and early on, was set on a path that leads to illness, disease and dysfunction. Thankfully, I started learning truths about natural medicine as a teenager and began my journey toward health. There were many health problems that needed solved, and I discovered that the key to healing and learning to thrive was listening to my body’s unique needs.
Getting To Know Ourselves Physically
The physical aspects of getting to know ourselves are limitless, and the rewards of getting to know our bodies can greatly improve every area of our lives. For example, here are three that I’ve learned:
1. Cravings aren’t just for pregnancy. Everyone craves certain foods. Cravings are usually one way that our bodies communicate a need to us. When I am craving chocolate, it is usually my body telling me that I need magnesium. If I take a magnesium supplement, the craving goes away.
2. Sunlight affects each of us differently. Surprisingly, my mom always felt most productive and happy when the sun was not shining. But when I was 19 years old I began to show symptoms of multiple sclerosis. My older sister had already come down with the disease, and I was afraid. I started going to college a couple of months after the symptoms started, and within weeks they all left, never to return. I didn’t understand how until years later when I read that MS can often be prevented by 15 minutes of sunlight every day. It wasn’t until college that I had been getting that much sunlight. Needless to say, I have continued that routine!
3. Journaling is key to knowing ourselves. Keeping our own personal records of what we eat and how it makes our bodies feel can tell us millions of things about our unique needs. However, journaling can also be done for many other purposes. I try to keep records about illnesses I’ve had and how I heal them. For example, when I heal from a cold or flu, I like to keep records of what I did and how fast I healed.
Getting To Know Ourselves Mentally
There are many aspects to getting to know ourselves mentally, but if we want to function well it is important to find out what works best for our individual styles.
Growing up, I always struggled with focusing, but over time I have discovered some unique things that really help me. I realized that I am a kinetic person, and the more hands-on I can make something the better I can focus on it. For example, to organize an outline for writing an article, I write each topic on a piece of paper, cut it up, and sort the pieces into categories. Because of my brain’s unique needs, evening primrose oil’s extremely high amount of gamma-linolenic acid helps me focus a lot better, too.
Our thought life is a key component to our health. For example, if a person is trying to lose weight and they get frustrated about it daily and allow themselves to think they will never lose weight, then they probably never will. But if they keep thinking they will lose weight, it will give them the hope and desire to keep trying until they do.
Our emotions are extremely powerful and affect every part of us. I grew up in an environment that taught me to always try and control my emotions. Although this can be helpful in some ways, I was missing out on appreciating, utilizing and enjoying my emotions. Our emotions are such a big part of us, and we need to learn to listen to and understand them to better know ourselves.
Also, our emotions dramatically affect our bodies. As a teenager in an abusive home I often used the coping mechanism of “pushing my feelings down.” Every time there would be an abusive episode, I would push down the negative feelings caused by it — and each time sharp pain in my gallbladder would directly follow. Once I left that environment and the abusive episodes became a thing of the past, I stopped getting the pains.
But how can we get to know ourselves if we don’t love ourselves? How can we seek health for the people that we are if we don’t learn to love who we are? These are questions I ask myself on a regular basis.
One of the biggest challenges I have had to face in the last year is cutting off toxic relationships. A relationship is toxic when it brings out the worst in you on a regular basis. This person may seem so sweet and supportive, but you know in your gut that they are pulling you down. Every time you see them, they drain you.
Of course, there are seasons where this can happen in a healthy relationship. For example when my husband’s mom passed away, my husband went through a spell of depression that made it hard for me to be around him. I gave him time, tried to support him, and eventually he got through it. But in a toxic relationship, we usually know deep down that this person we care about is not healing, truly accepting help, or changing at all. If we want to find total wellness we have to face our fears and let that person go. Because if we don’t love and respect ourselves, how can we truly love and respect anyone else?
Knowing ourselves is the center of natural medicine. Wholeness and wellness is found when we do the work and really listen. Because the answers to our health are within us.
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