September 13, 2010
The Tiger And The Breadcrumbs
Neil F. Neimark, MD
For lasting change to occur, we must, in most cases, address the deeper psychological and spiritual values of life. There is no shortcut. We must--at one time or another--confront the difficult questions in life: Why am I here? What was I put here to do? What is the purpose of my life?
In ending this issue, ask yourself, Am I drinking muddy water? Am I unconsciously choosing the wrong lifestyles, wrong partners, wrong job as a way to validate that I do not yet feel good enough, deserving enough or lovable enough?
If any of these answers are true, then please, stop now. Begin taking whatever steps your soul tells you to start connecting with your authentic strength, spirituality, lovability and essential worthiness as you seek to do goodness with the precious life you were given.
There is a wonderful story told by the great Sufi poet Nasrudin, of the tiger and the breadcrumbs.
One day, Nasrudin is seen in his suburban home spreading breadcrumbs outside of his house. A neighbor passing by inquires, "Nasrudin, what are you doing?" "Can't you see?" says Nasrudin, "I'm spreading breadcrumbs outside of my house in order to keep the tigers away." "But Nasrudin," replies the neighbor, "there are no tigers in this neighborhood." "See," says Nasrudin, "it works!"
On some level, the lifestyles we choose work for us, even the apparently unhealthy ones. On some level, they help us to deal with our unwanted, uncomfortable feelings, thoughts and regrets. On some level, they help us avoid our pain, sorrow, fear and conflict. They help us to mood-alter. They keep us numb. They keep us from having to deal with our unresolved issues: our loneliness, our uneasiness, our loss.
If we feel uneasy, we may cover up our uneasiness by becoming a work-aholic, using our power in the company to avoid the powerlessness we feel in our personal or family life.
We may choose a fast paced lifestyle in order to avoid deeper, more meaningful relationships. After all, if someone really got to know us, they might find out inadequate, alone or afraid we really feel sometimes.
Now, here is the really distressing thought: we may actually choose illness as a lifestyle. Let me say that again: we may actually choose illness as a lifestyle. How could that happen? you might ask. If the only time we received love and attention was when we were sick, then on some level, the payoff for being ill, is getting the love and attention we don't know how to get appropriately.
After all, when we're sick, we get to feel as lousy as we really feel. John Bradshaw, the recovery expert, says, "Needs and feelings can be changed into bodily sickness. When one is sick, one is usually cared for. When one is sick, one can feel as bad as one really feels. Sickness works."
In order to achieve the level of physical and psychological health you deserve in life, please ask yourself, if you are making lifestyle choices to mood alter your anger, sadness, hurt, fear or powerlessness.
Now, think about other healthier ways to deal with the uncomfortable thoughts, unresolved feelings and irrational fears you may be holding on to. Physical health derives most directly from our lifestyle choices,
Be well. In body and soul,
Neil F. Neimark, MD