March 13, 2016

A Guide to What our Persistent Physical Symptoms are Telling Us.


Do you get aches and pains in places that don’t make sense?

Maybe you are still struggling with weight gain, a sluggish immune system, or motivation even though you are taking good care of yourself? Do you find yourself having a hard time pushing past certain health/fitness plateaus even though you seem to be doing everything “right”?

You’re not alone. I’ve been there.

About one year ago I had finally gotten to a place where my diet was dialed in, my exercise routine was one that worked for me consistently, I was sleeping well, I had a healthy relationship—everything was “squared” away.

Or so I thought.

I still had this nagging feeling that something was off. All the effort I was putting in to be healthy made me feel good, but it also felt like a lot of work at times, like a lot of sacrifice.

As a certified clinical nutrition therapy practitioner, I’ve made it my job to know what’s healthy and what’s not.

I know how our metabolisms work and the chemical reactions and building blocks needed to create energy so that I can help people get more it. I’ve memorized the chemical processes that take place in phase one and phase two liver detoxification so that I can help people support their natural detoxification. I understand the endocrine system and how hormones send signals to regulate all our bodily functions so that I can help people feel more balanced and aligned.


I couldn’t figure out what was going on with me. When would I stop wanting to eat sweets all the time even though my blood sugar was balanced? Why wasn’t I bouncing to the gym everyday with a big smile on my face like other “healthy” people do?

So I dug deeper. And when I finally came up for air, I was surprised at where my search had taken me.

It had led me away from the physical and towards the emotional, mental, and spiritual.

Skeptical? Believe me, I was too.

When I finally got to a place where I was ready to focus on my emotional and spiritual health, I started see changes in myself I’d never seen before.

I devoured books by Deepak Chopra, Pema Chodron, Tara Brach, and Marianne Willamson. I began going to a meditation center and learning how to quiet my mind and tap into my inner wisdom.

This inner wisdom revealed to me that “health perfection” was the wrong goal all together. In fact, there is no such thing.

Symptoms and feelings are the way our bodies alert us to things gone awry. They are incredibly valuable. When we ignore emotions and feelings, we are choosing not to listen to our innate bodily wisdom.

Instead of accepting my feelings that something was “off,” I had been resisting them, trying to push past them with more physical perfection (perfect diet, perfect exercise). What I didn’t understand was that nothing I could do physically was going to make the emotional root cause go away.

To address the emotional and spiritual root causes, I had to commit to turning inward and examine what I was missing on an emotional and spiritual level.

I did this by choosing to become aware of and ultimately turning off all the judgment of myself. I went through a 30 day “judgment detox” where I told myself I needed to do absolutely nothing. I could eat whatever I wanted. I could work out or not work out. I could go to work, or not. I could get out of bed, or stay in bed all day. No judgment on any of it.

When you clear away the endless task list, the never-ending “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” you start to get a clearer picture of what needs to be healed, and that’s what these 30 days did for me.

After going through this difficult (yes, it is difficult actively doing nothing because you have to constantly be aware of your ingrained judgmental thoughts and habits) “judgment detox” I realized I had been completely ignoring my need for spontaneous creativity, my need to appreciate the “sweetness” of daily life (hence my cravings for sweet foods), and had been denying myself the space to celebrate my daily achievements with true rest and recuperation.

If you want to get to a place in your life where you feel staying healthy is an intuitive process, you have to willing to go deeper.

If you want to live from a place where you can eat, exercise, rest, and adapt from a place of innate bodily wisdom then you have to address all your emotional baggage, your mental health resilience, and your spiritual connection to the Divine (or whatever you believe).

So the next question is: where do we start?

We start by identifying the emotional and metaphysical issues that may be manifesting as physical symptoms in the body.

We start by paying attention to our feelings instead of resisting them.

The following list, from Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, goes through the possible underlying emotional causes for these symptoms. (Check out her book for the full list.)

Accidents: Expressions of anger, frustration, rebellion
Anorexia/Bulimia: Self-hate, denial of life nourishment, “not good enough”
Arms: Ability to embrace, old emotions held in joints.
Arthritis: Pattern of criticism of self and others, perfectionism
Asthma: Smother-love, guilt complex, inferiority complex
Back: Upper = not feeling supported emotionally, needing support. Middle = guilt. Lower = burnout, worrying about money.
Breasts: Mothering, over-mothering a person/thing/place/experience.
Breast cancer: deep resentment attached to over-mothering
Burns, Boils, Fevers, It is, Sores, Swellings: Anger
Cancer: Deep resentment, distrust, self-pity, hopelessness.
Colon: Constipation is inability to let go, diarrhea is fear of holding; constipation = lack of trust of having enough, hoarding.
Ears: Too hard to accept what is said.
Earaches: anger, deafness = refusal to listen
Feet: Self-understanding, moving forward
Fingers: Index: ego, anger and fear, Thumb: worry, Middle: anger, right: a man, left: a woman. Hold with other hand to release, Ring: unions and grief Little: family and pretending

Where in your body do physical symptoms tend to show up?

Awareness and examination are only the beginning to really working through our emotional baggage and perceived spiritual disconnection, but they are the first steps to going from a life where healthy decisions seem like work to a life where health is effortless, intuitive, and natural.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I come back to time and time again from the Way of Mastery.

“What if the things you are resisting are the very keys to your homecoming?”




Author: Clara Wisner

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Nomao Saeki/Unsplash


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