Ever since reading Why People Don’t Heal—And How They Can by Caroline Myss, Ph.D. back in the late 1990s I have been a fan. No matter how many times I read her work, or listen to a lecture she gives, I am always inspired. Myss continually fills in the blanks in many of my thoughts about how to stay healthy and happy from a psychological and spiritual perspective that is often absent in so many conversations. This last week I found a recent TED Talk she gave at the Findhorn Foundation. In this short talk she presents five choices that she has observed in her long career that she finds essential to living a long and healthy life. Surprisingly so—it isn’t the big choices that make the real difference, it’s those little daily ones that matter.
In case you aren’t familiar with Myss, she is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition. Certainly one of the more interesting aspects of her work is the fact that she is medically intuitive. In other words, she can do a “reading” on a person who is facing health issues and offer a psychological, emotional and/or spiritual explanation for why that person has become ill. After years of working with people from this energetic perspective, Myss has learned to identify a variety of common themes that appear to be at the root of many mental and emotional blocks to becoming healthy and well.
Central to her work is the idea that we are all energetic beings—and that our health exists within the combination of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wholeness. In other words, illness does not just descend upon a person from nowhere. To Myss, everything is connected. Beyond that, as she says, “We need to create health every day and all the time, and we need to do so consciously.”
Obviously, this mixture of internal and external influence requires deep thinking and exploration. However, during the recent lecture I heard, Myss says most of it boils down to our choices. According to Myss, “Choice is a fundamental power of the human experience.” But again, these aren’t the big things like who to marry, when to marry or should you buy a house or go to college. Instead, these choices are those subtle decisions we make each and every day when we wake up and go about our day. According the Myss, the big five we need to consciously answer every day are:
1) The decision to live with integrity. In other words, learn to walk your talk. Besides always telling the truth, this also means not compromising ourselves to keep the peace or to get others to love or like us. It also asks us not to ask others to compromise themselves to please us. Myss says, “Liars don’t heal.” We must be truthful with others and ourselves. And Myss believes that what we eat or how much we exercise matters far less than our honesty. It’s not about being a good person—it is about being true to ourselves.
2) Choosing to share our wisdom rather than our pain. What do we want to pass on? What is it that we want to share with others on a daily basis? Myss believes the path to healing is one where we share the wisdom we’ve learned in every experience—rather than the suffering. But make no mistake, Myss recognizes that we all have times of pain and grief—but we can still make that choice. She suggests we let go of wanting life to be fair. And she also doesn’t believe it is helpful to know why something happened. Just let it go. Some of the grief and injuries that have happened to people are truly horrible and nothing can ever make the pain go away. But ultimately it is not about denying the tragedies. Instead it is looking it in the face and saying, “This will never defeat me. “ She says we can all choose between wisdom and woe.
3) The choice to take risks. Don’t wait for proof. Don’t ask for everything to be clear or easy. Take risks. Refuse to slide into regretful living. Most of the time we hold back on decisions that seem risky because we fear being humiliated by failure or by what others think. Myss says, “Never look backward for guidance.” But especially, when you don’t know what to do next, do not go to what you once were or what used to exist. We weaken ourselves by looking backward. Instead, exist in the “newness” of possibility.
4) Choose new words. A lover of words, Myss considers words powerful. Start paying attention to the words you say to others but most especially the words you say to yourself. She strongly advises us to never ignore the power of the vocabulary we use. Myss recalls saying to a woman who came to her searching for answers to why healing eluded her. Myss told her, “Your vocabulary is so toxic that the vibration of your neurology includes thoughts, includes frequencies, that are so toxic that even if you do visualization, it is off-step by a vocabulary that is organically so negative…I don’t care what your visualization is…If I had to rate your vocabulary it is fundamentally hostile toward everything you see, toward everyone, and toward to yourself. You get up in the morning and you are hostile, your first thoughts are angry, you see your life as not enough, you see others as not enough. Your first reaction to everything is critical.” Clearly, any of us would do well to avoid words that promote those thoughts or reactions. Of particular note, Myss strongly suggests we avoid three powerful words: 1) blame, 2) deserve, 3) entitled. She says “If you could extricate those three words from your head, you have no idea how much better you would feel.” Blaming others for anything takes you out of the present and puts toxic perceptions inside of you.
5) Choose to get up every day and bless your day. Be happy to be alive and refuse to base your gratitude on what you have or how you feel—just be grateful because you are. Celebrate each day as a unique moment never to be repeated. This choice alone should take all bitterness out of our hearts, and allow us to see the present with gratitude.
Regardless of whether you believe that Myss has the ability to diagnose illness, along with the thoughts and energy that are blocking a person’s healing, it is hard to argue with her perspective on choice. And while she strongly urges everyone to take full responsibility for their health and circumstances, including those with all types of illness, she doesn’t do it to make people feel guilty. Instead she believes that only through total responsibility do we retain the ability to be fully empowered to take action and make a change.
Myss believes that our tiniest choices have infinite consequences and the choices we make in the privacy of our own company have the ability to heal and fully empower us. Perhaps the SMART option is to stay open to the possibility and as always, stay grateful for yet another day of life.