We are on the brink of a New Year. It’s a symbolic beginning for many of us. A point in time where we will likely embark on a new journey, whether that’s a New Year’s resolution or setting out on the road to recovery from a condition such as ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue syndrome), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Fibromyalgia or Burnout.
If you’ve been feeling unwell and experiencing some of the Medically Unexplained Symptoms associated with conditions like those mentioned above, use the symbolism of the New Year to get a sense of how you really are and what you really need.
It is our understanding that your symptoms are your body’s way of telling you that something’s up. They are keeping you informed about the state of your health, much like a warning light that comes on in a car’s dashboard when an issue has been detected.
You (probably) wouldn’t ignore a warning light on your car’s dashboard, so why would you ignore any symptoms that your body is giving you? The symptoms you are experiencing are your call for adventure. More often than not though, we don’t know what the indicators mean or what action to take.
At The Helpful Clinic, we often talk about ‘the journey’. It’s a concept central to the way we work with our patients, helping them understand what’s happening when it comes to their bodies, their symptoms and their health. We help you understand what your symptoms mean and what action to take.
It’s actually timely, what with the New Year beginning, that we are discussing journeys. Being of Nordic heritage myself, mythological narratives are something I hold dear. One such narrative that is particularly relevant as the New Year unfolds is the monomyth, or Hero’s Journey, as outlined in Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With A Thousand Faces.
In a nutshell, the Hero’s Journey is about answering the Call For Adventure and beginning a journey of self-transformation (like recovering from a condition or making a transformational change) – even if doing so feels illogical – and then ‘returning’ home changed having overcome a task or trial.
It’s about following your heart and your body (for a change) and overcoming feelings of: it’s too difficult, too daunting and too uncomfortable – do these feelings sound familiar?
The Hero’s Journey itself can be simplified into three acts:
- Departure – Call For Adventure
- Challenge – Transformation
- Return – Arrival
The easiest way to consider these three acts is to think about some of your favourite movies. Many will start out with the protagonist living a seemingly ordinary, stable life. Then, something usually happens which sees them reluctantly follow a call for adventure and depart the known world (departure). Once the hero arrives in the unknown world or situation, they will have to face their fears and ultimately overcome them, almost always with the help of a small helpful crew (challenge). Finally, the hero returns back to the known world, having been transformed by the adventure into a more complete individual and richer in terms of knowledge and/or power. The protagonist arriving in a familiar world with irrevocably enhanced and strengthened ability to live life more fully and skilfully (return).
The symptoms you are experiencing are your own call for adventure. They are guiding you towards a particular decision and even though it almost always feels overwhelming at this point, by beginning your own Hero’s Journey, you can turn things around. Remember one of the central points in all legends, myths and movies – the hero always needs help, a crew that’s with them as they take up the call for adventure and set out on their journey.
When it comes to the journey to improved health, we have identified six destinations (areas of focus), that everyone travels through. Some will require more time, others less but all need mapping and supporting to some extent:
At this symbolic portal of time from one year to the next, give yourself the gift of an hour with a pad and your favourite pen(s) in your favourite place, free from distractions and interruptions.
Take a look at each of the six areas outlined above and score them on a scale of 0-10 about how you feel each area is at this point.
The scale moves from 0 = most unhelpful to 10 = most helpful.
As you map how your life is at this point you can see whether you are on track with your journey, what areas are off track and if you are stuck somewhere.
Remember that we all need help, someone who has travelled this terrain before, someone who knows the way. This could be with a trusted friend or a colleague or if you would like to take the Helpful approach to getting yourself back on track, get in touch and request an Information Pack about how to set yourself up well for your adventure and how we support you on your journey.
Take a moment to imagine yourself on New Year’s Eve 2019, looking back at the year you have now lived. Although none of us have a crystal ball predicting the future, we can imagine how things will unfold if we make no changes. If that vision feels helpful then that’s great, what do you need to do to protect that and support that happening.
If however, you shudder to think of nothing changing for the next 365 days, now is the time to take a breath and make a choice. Are you going to make 2019 the year in which you answer your call for adventure, start addressing the symptoms you are experiencing and become the hero in your own adventure?
If you are ready or you are just so exhausted of being where you are, now is the time to get in touch.
Wishing you a Helpful 2019