The Quest for Perfect Health (Control)

Having spent a great deal of my life trying to cope with everything from allergies, to headaches, stomachaches, gluten intolerance, and now Hashimoto’s, I’ve read and searched a great deal about health – pretty much ever since there’s been an internet. I’ve learned a bunch of stuff, unlearned a bunch of stuff, and here’s the big truth that I found (are you ready?):

The desperate search for health answers outside of myself can be summed up as efforts to control. It goes back to the Pema Chodron quote I tweeted recently about “the dream of constant okayness”.

It’s about this human thing we all do where we try really hard to reduce uncertainty, all aimed at securing our own personal comfort, pretty much at the expense of everything else, and to our own detriment. It literally makes us miserable, working so hard trying to ensure happiness. This occurred to me in a big way recently while I’ve been trying to figure out how to make the discomfort in my throat that is likely a symptom of my thyroid issue go away.

My desperate search for a cure, I realized, is partly resistance to the fact of my illness, a refusal to accept anything less than “perfect” that doesn’t fit my idea of how I expected life to be. The very idea that I might search forever and still not succeed in completely curing myself only occurred to me recently and was at first met with flat out disgust and rejection. The idea was just plain unacceptable. I would not accept any such possibility. Period. It just doesn’t fit with my idea of who I am, so I refused to acknowledge it. Meanwhile, the lump in my throat is ever present, squeezing, choking, threatening to become my newest, unwanted best friend and closest companion, as I grow still more desperate to fix it. How in the hell can I make friends with this? Tolerate this? Allow this?

The evolution of my spiritual path has included surrendering egoic control in many areas of life – career, identity, relationships, money – and yet, here’s this one thing, this one area, my health, that I still make endless and desperate attempts to predict and control.

So, in the face of this massive resistance welling up in my chest like a giant wall of glue and knots and nails, a twisted ball of NO!, I ask myself the magic meditation question suggested by Adya (what would it be like?), just like I’ve done for other instances of difficulty letting go.

What would it be like if I let go of the idea that the perfect solution to my complex health dilemma is out there somewhere? I might simply rely less on “common sense” advice and more on the information my body and intuition provide (which I often ignore) as a guide to what is good for me. I might stop expecting any piece of information to be THE one. I might be less devastated every time I discover that what we think we know about health changes. I might have more compassion for health professionals struggling to live up to our expectations. I might relax a little more and try to enjoy the present a little more rather than waiting for a future state of perfect health. I might be more tolerant of imperfection in myself and others.

And, all of these things might lead to less stress and better decisions, and ultimately, more free time and money, and better health. The evidence continues to mount for stress as a significant factor in health problems. Hmmmm. Could someone please remind me – what I thought I was resisting ?

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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