No one really wants abnormal test results. They mean something is wrong. Yet, when we do not feel well, there is some relief when a test comes back abnormal. It points to the problem. When we know the problem, we can fix it.
Tests are not so clear cut. Most of the time when doctors order tests for patients having a range of mild to moderate symptoms, they come back normal. The body is not quite sick enough for these tests to detect a problem. This is frustrating for many of us because the normal test results do not match our experience of health. Now what?
The space between being medically normal and feeling healthy is a grey zone many of us know. There are a whole constellation of symptoms with pain, weight, skin, fertility, mood, hair, digestion, sleep, fatigue, and concentration that are part of this zone. Without the validation of a medical diagnosis, we can feel afraid and perhaps even judged. So when tests are not useful in pinpointing the cause of the problem, what happens?
Doctors may look at us with despair as they say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find anything wrong.” Depending on your lifestyle, you may be advised to adopt a healthier diet or get some exercise. If you are on top of that, you may be referred on to a specialist who will order more tests and maybe give you a medication whose side effects are right up there with your original symptoms. Worst, best case scenario, you are told “Good news. Your tests are normal. You’re fine.” That would be great, except you don’t feel fine.
Before we get to what you should do, let us shift to how we are looking at this situation. There are two important points to realize and they are radical in their perspective. First, anytime a test is performed properly and comes back normal, it is GOOD news!!! The most essential part of your body’s functioning is intact. If you think of your body as a car, it is working well enough to get you between work and home. It may not be optimal but it does mean there is likely a fixable solution that is achievable through you, with some support. The second point is to meet this not feeling well as an invitation to upgrade your life. Meaning, not feeling well is not a BAD thing. It might be disguised with the harshness of a fire alarm disrupting a deep sleep but its purpose is to wake you up to what is unconsciously harming you. Not feeling well is a call to course correct back to the joy of living your full potential.
Our bodies are such fine tuned hearty instruments, even in their capacity to handle a ton of abuse and neglect from us. We are given numerous survival mechanisms that make up our innate resilience. Mother nature even threw in some pause buttons to help us postpone what we need to when life starts shoving out more than we can handle.
Numbness is one of these ingenious buttons that gets triggered in overwhelming situations. In the acute moments of life, numbness is the anesthesia that allows us to triage our emotions, beliefs and physical turmoil to a later time, while our fight or flight response takes over. Our fight or flight state has a very successful track record over millennia in securing our survival. The problem is when we do not go back and unpause the numbness button but continue to push forward through the discord. Discomfort in the body lights a fire under the deep freeze of numbness.
This is also good news because it means these early subtle symptoms of not feeling well are fixable. Our medical doctor may not have a pill or surgery for these things and that is good if we want to avoid a life of co-dependence with the medical system. We do not need a doctor to fix what we can do for ourselves. We have the ability to listen to the alarm, be grateful for the reminder to go back and address what we were not able to before. We can shift how we think, we can feel what was too much to feel when there was no support, we can adopt lifestyle choices that nurture us and we can restore alignment to our essence. This is attunement. We have the power and control to attune to ourselves.
So what do you do? You can take an audit of your experience and grow awareness of your neglected needs. From this place of presence you can confront fear that is in the way. Cultivate trust in your body’s autonomic capacity to restore itself without too much external poking and prodding. Life wants us to live our highest potential and our bodies are the messenger when we are not attuned to our needs. The more we ignore the symptoms, the harder the body tries to get our attention.
It is important to understand the mechanisms at play when we move away from feeling well and end up sick. Illnesses are not death sentences, they are invitations for change, to shift the course of our lives to support our highest possibility. The tools we need to realize this are ones that help us restore our self-contact with the most essential parts of ourselves. This entails learning the lifestyle choices best suited to us as individuals, cultivating harmony with those around us, and breaking the cycle of persisting in heighten states of stress to survive by entering restorative processes designed to allow us to thrive.