If we as doctors want to truly heal our patients, we must first reflect on what makes healing possible.
In the service of answering this question, we have to consider a wide range of factors—most of which extend far beyond supplements or medication. In fact, the largest part of that formula has nothing to do with traditional treatments, but instead comes from the quality of our relationships. Do we feel love, appreciation, comfort, and support from those around us?
These “feel good” emotions are so important to our recovery that I call them spiritual nutrition.
If your soul is not fed, the body cannot thrive. It’s that simple.
This concept reminds me of a story my grandma used to tell me when I was a child. A man died and was met by the angel Gabriel. They stood before two great halls, one labeled “Heaven” and the other “Hell.”
As they entered hell, the man saw an enormous banquet table, beautifully set with the most delicious, exotic foods. In spite of the feast, the inhabitants of hell were oddly emaciated. The man quickly noticed that everyone in hell had casts on both their arms from wrist to shoulder.
When they sat down to eat, he understood the reason for their starvation. Their arms were locked in the straight position and no one could eat the beautiful foods that sat just inches away. It was a torturous scene with much crying, wailing, and suffering.
The angel then took the man into the hall marked “Heaven.” It was the exact same scene: the same table, delicious food, and every inhabitant with the locking casts on their arms.
The difference was that these people looked robust and healthy. But how could this be?
When the people sat down to eat, the man knew. With their arms locked in their straight positions, the inhabitants of Heaven were reaching across the table to feed each other.
To me, that is the difference between Heaven and Hell.
To receive, we must give first, especially when it comes to love. What we attempt to keep for ourselves, we will lose—but what we give up for others, we will keep.
Nowhere is that more important than in the love we cultivate in our relationships. Too often, our ego puts us in a cast, unwilling to bend, compromise, and nurture others.
In the end however, it’s only we who starve.
Most would say a relationship is healthy if it is based on love. While, in the truest sense, this is correct, I see it a bit differently.
For too many of us, love is conditional. It is based on co-dependence, neediness, insecurity, jealousy, or manipulation. We can love someone so long as they comply with our terms of what love is.
I’ve found that health in a relationship is directly proportional to the amount of freedom allotted to each person by their partner.
If there is freedom in a relationship, then we have permission to be who we are and not what someone else expects us to be.
When we have the freedom to speak and live our truth by being our authentic selves in an environment that is safe and free of judgment, love is already present. We don’t have to “try” to love our partner. Love just is.
That’s not to imply that love is always easy. It’s not. However, that is where love begins: in freedom.
When we experience freedom in a relationship, we automatically know we’ll be supported in our goals, comforted in our sorrows, and appreciated for our efforts.
We’re valued simply for being—not being a certain way. That’s love, and the divine mandate is that you deserve it simply because you exist. Love isn’t something you earn. It’s what you are.
Freedom and love are inseparable partners. Just consider the popular adage, “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, it is yours. If not, it never was.”
Oftentimes, we give away our freedom to be who we are. This causes the same problems in all of our relationships, romantic or otherwise. From job interviews to a first date, we’re always trying to put our best foot forward, which gives someone else a false sense of who we really are, and leads to unrealistic expectations later on.
I think it’s better to put our truest foot forward even if we don’t get the job or a second date. Author Iyanla Vanzant said it perfectly when she explained, “When you don’t show up as who you are, the other person falls in love with who you’re not. Then, you want to blame them for the expectations you set in the beginning.”
It’s popular now to say that our life partners are our best friends—but is that true?
Odds are you offer your friends a latitude of freedom that your partner doesn’t enjoy.
When our partners irritate us, it’s always a sign to look inward.
Struggling to change them is futile and can only add stress to our lives. Their behavior is only a trigger for our existing emotional scars. When we can identify the real reasons why we feel abandoned, dismissed, or unappreciated, then our partners don’t need to do anything. They can just be.
Remember, just as we learned as children, when you point a finger at someone else, there are always three pointing back at you. Unconscious hurts that limit the love we give are like allergens: they hide beneath the surface and continue to re-infect our relationships each time a certain behavior flares up and irritates us.
Understanding our emotional allergies will unveil the cause of our pain in relationships, which is almost never the other person. All it takes is a slight shift in perception and the freedom to allow your partner to be who they are. In this loving, nonjudgmental place, we can find the answer to the pain in our relationships that manifests in our bodies as dis-ease.