Until you understand yourself, you will never understand your health. I have found this to be true time and time again both for myself and my clients over the last seven years. I will tell you the truth: your body is a metaphor for all you have lived, all you have experienced (the good and bad), and all of the trauma you have suppressed or internalized. The answers you seek are right in front of you.
That ache in your back, the tightness in your throat, the gait with which you walk, the way you carry your shoulders, the food allergies, the stomach bloat, the chronic fatigue, the brain fog — it is all a cue and clue as to the greater analogy of who you are, what you have been through, and how your body handled it all.
Think of your health as a poem. A left-brained critical thinker (aka: doctor) may take a look at the words (aka: your body) and assume prescriptions are the solution for any and everything that ails you. That is all they have been trained to do and they do not function outside of these boundaries because it feels scary to them. It is a trek into unknown, uncharted waters. To them, you are black and white, cut and cry, no gray area or room for discussion. Anything else would imply they don’t have all the answers.
Modern medicine has relegated health and wellness into the realm of the left-brained scientist: “Only they can be trusted, only they can be believed, only they have the answers I seek.” This just isn’t true. It takes a right-brained creative thinker that knows no bounds, is comfortable with free thought, and understands you are a limitless individual with limitless solutions available to you to find the answers to your pressing, painful health complaints. It takes a poet, an artist, an inventor to say, “there is more to the story. I know this because I can read between the lines.” Yes, we’ve been doing it all wrong.
What if instead of medicating (which never gets to the root of why you are experiencing the health problem in the first place) we began to “read” you to deconstruct the meaning behind it all? What if we unraveled, line by line, symptom by symptom, the meaning of you? What if we went so deep into you that we solved the mysteries?
Chronic illness does not have one cause. Yet thyroid diseases and autoimmune conditions are diagnosed and treated as though they do come from a singular cause. Medication, testing, adjusting of dosage, more testing, more adjusting. Round and round we go on this hamster wheel. You end up so frustrated or defeated that you give up trying to improve things altogether. Let me tell you this: it is not you, it is them.
I think of each client as a unique mystery begging to be solved. How did they get here? What is their potential for healing? What do we need to do to get them there quickly? I know there are always solutions because I healed my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and put it into unmedicated remission despite medical professionals telling me it wasn’t possible. They couldn’t read between the lines, but I could. And I did.
I have worked with clients at the end of their rope with their health. I have seen women with Graves’ disease go medication-free and keep their labs in check with specific, tailored nutrition and deep mind-body work; Graves’ Disease! — an illness that can literally kill someone. They came to me eating a gluten-free and dairy-free diet because that’s what they’d read big-name left-brained doctors and internet stars say they had to do. It wasn’t getting them anywhere. You see, diseases happen for “cluster” reasons. Once we understand the cluster, we deconstruct it to stop it.
This means they didn’t just have a genetic predisposition to autoimmunity or hyperthyroidism — they had 10 or more issues that were compounding to create the Graves’ disease state:
- histamine intolerance
- large consumption of thyroid-stimulating foods (coconut, avocado, and brazil nuts, for example)
- leaky gut syndrome
- Epstein-Barr infections
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- adrenal fatigue or high/low cortisol
- erratic blood sugar
- too little cholesterol in their diet and way too much plant-based saturated fat (thanks to big name doctors promoting a low-cholesterol, high saturated fat Paleo diet)
- nervous system dysregulation
- stored chaotic energy
- abuse or neglect
- little to no self-care
- “screaming” to be heard their entire lives
What happens when you deconstruct and remedy the cluster? You stop the disease state.
But keep in mind, this is only a template. It’s like the stanzas in a poem. The words will be unique to you, despite the outline of the rhythm being the same. Until you understand your unique cluster, you will never halt the health problems.
The answers you seek are literally and figuratively right in front of you. You must find someone to help you deconstruct the metaphor that is you.
The other night I was indulging in an episode of trashy reality television. Cat fights, gossip, stilettos — the whole bit. It’s not often I watch these shows because of how sensitive my stress response is, plus I’m just not proud of it, but it’s one of the few guilty pleasures I still can’t shake because it’s so darn ridiculous.
In this episode, one of the cast was arrested and taken into court before a judge. While the judge was executing orders, the charged woman tried to ask a question. The judge cut her off and quickly replied, “Don’t speak. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Even though this statement shouldn’t seem remarkable, it struck me.
Sure, we’ve all heard those words before (hopefully not in the same circumstances as this woman) but this time it reminded me of something: expression, freedom, the thyroid gland, silence. “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
Many of the thyroid clients I work with have never (and I do mean never) learned to speak because of how scary it feels. I don’t mean the mechanics of speaking here because of course they do know how to string words together. Rather, I mean the intention of speaking: putting forth new ideas, vulnerable sharing of experiences, speaking off the cuff and from the hip, creation, sussing it out for as long as it takes, and change making.
Why are we so scared to speak?
The fifth chakra of the body governs several things, including the thyroid gland, the throat, the voice box, and the neck. The thyroid gland, which operates as the “master” controlling one’s metabolism, is not separate from your voice. While they may be anatomically distinct systems, they share an energy center which is acting out tension patterns every single day whether we know it or not. This energy pattern usually originates in childhood (or after trauma) and will either be over-developed or underdeveloped based on the adaptation strategies we have learned in order to get the love and care we desire — or, in order to avoid certain punishments from those who prefer we do not speak.
In some ways, developing your fifth chakra abilities is like a baby learning to make its first audible sounds. At first the noises come out as indecipherable vowels and consonants, squeals, shrieks, and growls. Eventually though, through immersion, the child learns to form words, then sentences, and eventually masters written and spoken communication to the point where it is effortless.
So too is our relationship with speaking the truth and our thyroid gland. When you speak authentically, you will release excess tension in that area or you will build-up energy where there was none. Too much energy can indicate hyperthyroid tendencies, and too little can indicate hypothyroid. (I have observed that those with thyroid nodules or comorbid thyroid conditions tend to have a little bit of both.) Knowing when and how to speak is a balancing act that can be remedied in a split second or it may take years depending on the internalized trauma one has endured. Only through practice can we get to the point where we trust our “first” or instinctual voice.
In order to communicate freely, you must address why you were not vocalizing things in the first place. If you take a step back, think about how many times you were scared to speak. Think about how many times you were given “the look” by those in authority. Think about how many times you were spanked, ignored, neglected, ridiculed, guilted, shamed, or had something taken away when you said something others did not like. Is it still happening? Who is doing this to you? It may surprise you that even those closest to us, those whom we love and whom we know love us, are perpetually acting out the silencing.
In many ways, dysregulation of thyroid chakra energy (whether it be too much or too little), points us back to that warning: “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Because it absolutely categorically has been used against us and we have had to learn this lesson over and over to our own detriment. Chances are you have learned to associate speaking with withdrawal, retribution, embarrassment, deprivation, rejection, imperfection, and penance due.
I know you have done these things because I have too. After being silenced for 32 years of my life, I now choose to speak. I choose to speak against the odds, against retaliation, against judgment, against isolation or scapegoating, and against whatever hatred may ensue. I no longer care about the punishment because I have seen the dire consequences of not speaking. I have seen how physically sickened people can become when they turn off this life-giving part of themselves. I have seen how small and miserable it can make people feel when they have no voice.
Your voice is your power. It corrects, it acknowledges, it processes, it prevents, it brings about justice, it plans, it feels, it enjoys, and it releases. When you learn to speak without judging your speech, the power others once had over you no longer activates the sympathetic fight-or-flight response because you see that you are too powerful to be silent for them. You can no longer cater to their desires in martyrdom of your own. In fact, chances are, you were probably so powerful to begin with that your voice was silenced to make life easier for others. Think about that for a minute.
We all get to decide when, how, and to what degree we will speak. Know this: there may always be punishment lurking around the corner. There may always be someone ready to play “gotcha”, ready to argue, ready to tell you it’s your fault because you said something, ready to tell you off. Let me ask you this question: does it matter? Once you activate your fifth chakra, these things no longer hold so much weight because you are fully capable of defending and protecting whatever you have said in truth and honesty to begin with.
Yes, “anything you say can and will be used against you” but whatever is bubbling up to the surface for you to talk about is as necessary to the spirit as pure water is to the body. It may be used against you but how much longer will your body and soul allow you to remain silent?
The term “empath” has gained popularity over the last few years as people seek more and more to understand themselves and their stressors.
I myself am an empathic or highly sensitive person and trust me, going decades without understanding what this personality trait was drove my health into the ground.
When I observe clients with the same traits, I make a point to help them deconstruct this.
Empathic people are highly sensitive to others’ emotions, intentions, and often, even physical sensations. They tend to operate from an “others-centered” place in which we constantly look for ways to reciprocate, recognize the needs of others and meet those, and put off our own needs for risk of feeling selfish—or because we’re waiting for our proverbial “prince charming” or “fairy godmother” to rescue us and finally meet our needs.
In some cases, we also attract people who do not have good intentions for us and actively work to harm us (personally, I did not believe this until I experienced it).
While these are honorable traits and most certainly help others as well as society, empaths run a high risk of burnout and increased physical and emotional health concerns than someone who’s not as sensitive.
The nervous system of an empathic person may operate differently because empaths often feel they’re constantly coming up against threats to their wellbeing. These act as fight-or-flight stress responses and can keep them in a state of constant adrenaline rushes, high or low cortisol, gut dysfunction, high blood pressure (and altered heart or kidney function), nutrient deficiencies, and other hormonal imbalances.
For empaths, it can feel like we don’t have a choice in the matter.
But the good news is, we do! It took me decades to realize I had a choice in how I responded to overwhelming stimuli from others, whether they realized they were putting their difficult emotions and intentions on display for the world or not.
I’ve come up with several ways to help empaths protect themselves from the toxic burden of others’ emotions, expectations, and intentions and now make a point to talk sensitive, stressed clients through these as well.
How empaths can protect their nervous system in a stressful world:
- Identify your triggers. When someone’s presence or an interaction with someone begins to stress you out, stop and consider what about them has left you stressed. There’s usually at least one trigger that has us feeling depleted and overwhelmed (for some of us, there are many triggers).Did this person try to bully you into doing something that you didn’t want to do? Were they too pushy and ignored your boundaries? Did they try to shame you? Did they try to guilt you? Did they seem angry? Did they talk over you and dismiss your thoughts and needs? Did they not show appreciation? Did they seem to not trust you or make you not trust yourself?
- Identify the corresponding wound. Once you understand what the trigger was from the interaction, figure out why that trigger bothers you. Did the anger they projected remind you of an angry parent from childhood? Do you feel like no one ever thanks you? Do you carry shame from an abusive relationship or failed situation in your life? Do you never feel good enough? Did you feel invisible? Did you feel chaotic? Did you feel misunderstood? Did you feel like you did not have equal say? Did you feel trapped?
- Understand your reaction to their emotions and work through it. If you were triggered by someone’s anger and, say, you realize it’s because growing up, your father was always angry and you worried about upsetting him, begin to deconstruct those feelings to get past them. So next time you’re in the close vicinity of someone who cannot control their anger, you can consciously recognize your stress pattern and cut it off at the chase. Instead of devolving into your stress response when confronted with this trigger, you can remind yourself that realistically, this person’s emotions cannot hurt you because, in this example, they’re not your angry father and you are not a small child who can be punished.
- Confront the non-empaths and stand your ground. I’m not proud to say this, but many empathic people are pushovers. I mean that in the most loving way possible, and trust me, I myself was one for over 30 years of my life. I bent over backwards for others, didn’t even consider my needs, and did whatever I could to make other people’s lives easier. They walked all over me and I asked if it was comfortable for them.I had also, without realizing it, attracted people who were good at “using up” empaths for their own agendas. It made me stressed and sick and my nervous system was a mess.
Interestingly enough, just as I was acknowledging my own empathic and intuitive abilities (which I have previously spoken about), I was given a message from an Intuitive professional who said my life lesson for the next 12 years was to trust my intuition and “STAND YOUR GROUND,” which he of course said in a very slow dramatic tone.
I laughed when he told me this but thought, “Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.” It wasn’t until I was put in abusive situations back-to-back-to-back in which my old adaption methods of being the wallflower and appeasing others didn’t work that I realized he was right and I had no choice but to stand up for myself or literally end up in the hospital.
I tell you this as a cautionary tale. We must learn to confront the people who are displacing toxic emotions, intentions, and expectations onto us—whether intentionally or unintentionally—and let them know we will not tolerate it.
That said, I also believe in nonviolent communication and behavior. We must be firm both in our actions and words, but we cannot give non-empaths a taste of their own medicine; we cannot be hateful back. We can only be honest and unyielding in order to protect ourselves. Your physical health and your emotional wellbeing is not up for discussion and if we play their games, they’ll just target us more intently.
As with everything in life, getting “good” at being empathic requires constant work.
Many of us were not taught how to enforce healthy boundaries or how to focus on our own needs. As you work to deconstruct the stress triggers in your relationships and environment, you can become better and better at self-care.
Remember, your wellbeing is not up for discussion and recognizing these things is a very important step towards improving your health.