By KRS Edstrom, M.S.
I am a hypochondriac. I am 26 and obsessed with developing a major disease and dying. At first it was just a little odd but now it’s causing major stress in addition to that which is placed on me from my work. Could you please help?
Every obstacle is a lesson in disguise. It carries a message. All we need is the courage and some skills to walk through it with eyes (and consciousness) open. Obstacles never come at a convenient time. I know it’s “hell on earth,” but I wouldn’t deprive you of what you can gain from working through it.
You are correct not to shove this obsession aside any longer, as it will only escalate if unattended. What is in the mind manifests in the body, so it is a natural reaction to want to focus on the physical symptoms rather than the root cause of your problem.
Obsessions are our way of preoccupying ourselves with something other than the real issue. In the same way that people drink alcohol, overeat or take drugs to get numb, to not FEEL, we also develop diversions such as becoming phobic. The worst offense is that this obsession is keeping you from your true self and fully experiencing life. Interestingly, many times the fear of dying is actually the fear of living; of fully engaging in life. Sound familiar? I have two suggestions to begin your journey home to your true self:
First, a psychological exploration. Erroneous messages are instilled in us in childhood. For example, growing up with a relative who was chronically ill may have “taught” you that being sick is an option or that it even serves a purpose, such as gaining attention, i.e. love. The point is that unless we consciously uproot our less than perfect belief systems they will take us on an unwanted journey for the rest of our lives. Like a railroad track, our belief system carries our train (self) in the wrong direction — until we 1) discover the false message and 2) rebuild the faulty track.
Second, be willing to fully experience and BE with the physical sensations of your fear and obsessions. A meditation technique I teach called vipassana has you sit still with the obsession and allow every physical discomfort arising from the obsession to “complete itself.” Your only job is to surrender, to get out of the way and be there with it, even though at times it may feel like you are going to explode or even die. You won’t, but you will be permanently altered from this practice. In a sense, it teaches you to walk right into death (real and perceived) and come out the other side more alive than you’ve ever been. When death does come, having “dress rehearsed it,” you will welcome it, unafraid. Here’s to less sickness and higher consciousness. KRS
I have a house full of food and no willpower. My kids and husband insist I have the kitchen stocked with their favorite snacks and junk food. The problem is, at the end of a long working day, I also end up eating it. And, too late, I’m repentant.
Dear No Willpower,
I hear this I-must-keep-my-family-stocked-up-on-junk-food “logic” all the time. First of all, the most caring thing you can do for your family is to remove the toxins (there’s a reason it’s called “junk” food) from your house. Let’s face it, many foods (and accompanying additives) are nothing but slow-killing poisons dressed up in cute wrappers and multi-million dollar advertising campaigns.
Internal storms may be brewing for you and your family of which you are unaware. Blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol levels (don’t get me started) - are all affected by what we put in our mouths. The external storms are more obvious - weight gain, acne and tooth decay to name a few. Our children are more hyperactive and overweight with higher cholesterol levels than ever before.
This doesn’t mean your family must live on carrot sticks and lettuce, but shop around. There are excellent naturally low fat healthful snacks, including cookies, that are quite tasty. In fact, as you cleanse your palates and bodies, healthful foods will taste fuller and richer to you than other foods.
So let’s assume you manage to detoxify your kitchen and restock it with
healthful foods. The next problem is those low fat cookies, right? So
what do you do? Allow yourself a pre-determined amount. Eat slowly,
guilt free and consciously (i.e. not while you’re opening the mail) and
then put them back in their special out-of-sight spot that the entire
family knows about and complies with (or no cookies for them!). Their
protests about no junk food? Tell them they get plenty of that outside
the house without even trying. Tough love.
I’m extremely stressed out over work lately. I’m slacking off and just can’t seem to pull it all together. It feels like my life is crumbling before me! What can I do to release some of this tension? Stressed at Work
Dear Stressed at Work,
Unresolved stress gets trapped in the body and creates a feeling of internal pressure, like a volcano ready to explode. Your instinct is right — to “release” the built-up tension. The trick is not to release it in a destructive way, such as taking it out on those around you. Here are a few suggestions to release the tension in a constructive way that can actually be quite therapeutic:
1) Hit a pillow or mattress until you are exhausted. Rest 30 seconds and repeat this process three times. Don’t be surprised if, by the end of your session, tears come. It’s just your volcano’s way of erupting — and releasing the stored tension.
2) Scream and yell out loud. A good place to do this is in your car or into a pillow (if you have neighbors). Even if you think it seems silly, give it an honest try and you will be amazed at how effective and simple it is.
Naturally, you also want to do what you can to minimize your job stress, such as communicating your feelings to your boss or even consider changing jobs.
KRS KRS Edstrom, M.S., is an author, lecturer and columnist. She is available for private sessions (by phone or in person) and seminars on meditation, motivation, stress, pain, weight loss and other personal growth issues. Her books and audios offer solutions for healthful, conscious living. For free soothing guided meditations and more, visit KRS’ “Serenity and Meditation Corner” at www.AskKRS.com For more info call (323) 851-8623 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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