If the intelligence is capable of running a perfectly healthy body, why do we ever get sick? We find with Graf Stress Management that health problems don’t generally just “happen.” Rather, they are the result of the intelligence giving us what we subconsciously feel we need.
Many health problems fall into one of three categories according to the need they fill in our lives:
- Escapes from unmanageable situations;
- Justifications and manifestations of fears, expectations or negative feelings;
- Punishments of self or others.
Escapes There are times we feel that we can’t cope with a situation. If we see no graceful way out, we may create a physical health problem to save face and justify our escape. Whether it’s minor like the stomachache that gets us out of school, or extreme like the terminal illness to get out of a bad marriage, there are thousands of reasons people escape and thousands of ways to do it. Our intelligence can give us whatever we need to make it happen. We’ve all used escapes at one point or another without even realizing it.
Justifications Have you ever heard someone say, ”I was afraid that would happen, and sure enough, it did”? We frequently justify our fears or negative expectations by turning them into reality. We fear “catching” a cold from someone, and we do. Is it because our immune system can’t kill the virus, or because our expectation is so strong that our intelligence complies by directing the immune system not to attack? Have we given the virus the upper hand by virtue of fears and expectations? Why is it that some people never seem to have cold symptoms? Could it be that they don’t expect to catch a cold if sneezed on, and therefore don’t need to justify the fear and expectation?
We live in a world filled with microorganisms, many of which have been linked to various diseases. Billions pass through our body every day, kept in check by our immune system. But when situations trigger our fears or negative expectations of becoming sick, our intelligence responds by delivering the illness we feared, expected, or felt we deserved. It would be interesting to observe the disposition of these same microorganisms in the body of a person with no need to justify fears or expectations, escape from a situation, or punish himself.
Justifications of negative feelings can also appear as “hereditary” weaknesses or diseases, in which a problem occurring in the parent also occurs in the child. We may think of these as genetic imperatives but in Graf Stress Management we frequently find that children, including adult children, often subconsciously feel the need to exhibit the same malady as a parent to “justify” being accepted by that parent. It’s as if to say, “See, I’m your son /daughter. I have the same problem as you.” This is especially true when a child has felt rejected by that same parent.
Justifications can also help us save face, as in the overweight young woman I saw who subconsciously used excess weight to justify never being married. She had carried feelings of rejection throughout her life and feared she would ultimately be rejected by any suitors. In the Stress Evaluation we found that it was less painful for her to think that a man wouldn’t marry her because she was overweight than to think that a man wouldn’t marry her because she was her.
Punishments Each of us has value standards associated with our performance in every aspect of life, from the mundane, like how we organize our drawers, to the important, such as integrity, morality, financial success, educational achievement, and family relationships. When we live up to our value standards, we like ourselves and enjoy high self-esteem.
But when our behavior falls short of our standards, we don’t like ourselves and have low self-esteem. Often, our first response is to justify the behavior by blaming someone else for what we did, but when this isn’t possible, we may internalize the stress and develop physical symptoms to punish ourselves for it. We may also use our symptoms to punish others for what they’ve done to us.
Viewing health problems as escapes, justifications, and punishments, rather than things that “just happen” because of microorganisms, genes, and other forces beyond our control, may be a new idea to many but it is the essential paradigm that has worked at the center of Graf Stress Management for over thirty-five years.