Finally a nurse figured out that the mother was producing very little breast milk and that the reason the baby was crying all the time was that it was actually starving and crying out for food. When she heard this it triggered an enormous emotional reaction in relation to the weight loss and the situation she was currently in. Somehow the information her father shared released from the burden that she had unknowingly been carrying for all these years being sick. She had unconsciously believed that it was somehow her fault that she had been sick for so long and had repeatedly failed in healing. Having another explanation that was outside of her control brought in the possibility that her health conditions weren’t necessarily all her fault.
When she came back in the clinic two weeks later and was asked about what she had been eating she said
Basically everything”. This was shocking news from someone two weeks ago who couldn’t eat most things without doubling over in pain. Even foods with a well known history of causing immune reactions such as Gluten and Dairy were fine. She said “I love eating now! My favorite is eating fish sandwiches!.
She also described having to discover how to live her life now that she wasn’t constantly searching for how to heal. She was excited and also daunted by what she wanted to now do with her life.
The previous case study illustrates the far reaching effects that the mind has over the bodies. It also illustrates that we may not even know all of the ways in which this transpires. This was a very dramatic example of someone’s mind changing and their body instantly ‘healing’ or shifting. It is also and excellent example of how coaching has a way of inviting actions, conversations, or interventions from the clients side of things that can have a dramatic impact on their health and well being.
How can we explain this radical shift? She no longer believed the thought
It’s my fault that I am constantly sick and I have to struggle constantly to find a way to make myself better.
Without this belief a large portion of the anxiety abated, the nervous system and therefore the immune system relaxed, and foods that previously had been a problem in that state of constant stress were no longer a problem. In checking back with the client and month after the big shift and she has since been gaining weight steadily and feels much better.
The content of the brain, the chemicals that are released for there, and our gut have an intimate relationship. The phenomenon of getting ‘butterflies’ in our stomach before giving a speech is a dramatic example of this. What we don’t realize is that even mild stress in the nervous system has a constant affect not just on our digestion, but on everything.
So does thinking affects our health? Is Coaching a viable, helpful medium in which to promote better thinking and therefore better health? In the ancient tradition of Chinese Medicine which is gaining popularity even in mainstream culture now there is a saying that
Ninety Eight percent of illness arises from mental emotional disharmony.
Thinking as a factor in determining whether health or illness tends to prevail might be worth researching and studying despite the difficulties in measuring such a subjective line of research. It is people’s thinking that determines their choices in diet, exercise, supplements and medications. Without the right thinking none of these things will happen in a way that is supportive of the bodies health. It is unfortunate that we live in a society that has a health care system which has trained people not to think but rather to simply rely on the Doctor to do the thinking and to take care of our health when disease strikes. This is health care that is dealing with effect rather than cause.
Rigorous, methodical Coaching applied to the existing health care system can be a major contributor to the people adopting more health supportive thoughts and therefore habits.
The existing studies of the efficacy of Coaching in improving healthcare outcomes are few given the relatively recent nature of the profession. There are signs however that healthcare organizations, even as large as the Federally run Medicare, are considering it. The following is taken for a Home Health Care publication (1) that supports Nurses and Hospice workers –
Health coaching is quickly emerging as a new approach of partnering with patients to enhance self-management strategies for the purpose of preventing exacerbations of chronic illness and supporting lifestyle change. Medicare is now pilot testing this approach for patients with congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Without thinking that is educated and informed by our best ability to make good choices then we are necessarily living out our own ignorance. The root of ignorance is obviously to ignore. What do you ignoring in this case? Ourselves, our bodies, our responsibility to take control of our own lives. When we ignore ourself and specifically how we are thinking, then it seems our bodies may suffer for it.
So what would not ignoring ourselves look like? It would look like an active investigation, a living process in which we are listening to what we are thinking and believing about ourselves and the world and we are listening to what the body is needing or not needing that we are feeding it. This is the kind of relationship that a coach is ideally suited for using active, focused listening, penetrating questions, and non judge-mental support and problem solving skills to get the job done.
Sound like a lot of work? Well, how much ‘work’ is it to live with illness and chronic stress? The effects of chronic poor thinking result in stress to the body. This stress or burden builds as we age and the body is less and less able to tolerate imbalance so we experience more symptoms. More and more people look to medications to manage these symptoms including their moods. More and more mood altering drugs are being used to treat conditions previously not thought to be related like pain and digestive disturbances. All of this is a tremendous burden to the healthcare system. Healthy People 2010 reported that more than 75% of the $2 trillion spent annually in US medical care are due to chronic conditions; spending are even higher in proportion for Medicare beneficiaries (aged 65 years and older). (2)
The body has an elegant mechanism that is constantly informing us of the quality of our thoughts and therefore our relationship with ourself, it is called emotion. When we feel bad about something, ANYTHING, then we are believing something to be bad, wrong, shouldn’t have happened, etc. This feeling bad is actually a measurable cascade of stress related chemicals that has a measurable effect on the ability of the organ systems in the body to do their job properly.
In the case of the client in the case study above, she received a great gift in being invited to have that conversation with her Dad that freed her from the false belief that it was her fault that she had been constantly dealing with sickness in her life. Coaching is the perfect modality to help elicit this kind of conversation resulting in the excavation of limiting beliefs resulting in a burdened body. Since most disabling beliefs are concealed within or underneath our everyday thinking they are hard to spot. It takes a certain amount of trust, grace and hard work to discover them.
Coaching can help people win their freedom from the tyranny of their own thinking. How much people are willing to go there depends on them as individuals, but having a Coach is a tremendous advantage because of the steady support that is built be sharing and relating openly with another human being. So may we all think good thoughts and question the ones that make us feel bad. Perhaps it is having a much more profound affect on our bodies and our health than we ever realized. May this paper encourage people to continue to do more research in the efficacy and utilization of Coaching in the healthcare setting.