Can Illness Be a Positive Experience?

No one wants to be ill. Illness causes us suffering and cramps our style. It is so easy to resent our body for succumbing and to think negative thoughts about it. All we want to do is to recover, preferably in the shortest possible time with the minimum of effort.  If only there was a magic pill….

An instant fix might seem very attractive, especially if we believe that the illness has been caused entirely by a random dose of bad luck.  But, if we are honest, in many cases we would have to admit that our lifestyle and diet may have had something to do with it.  Did we get ill because we worked too hard and got too stressed? Did we forget to eat a balanced diet? Did we rely on caffeine to get us through an assignment when we should have been keeping properly hydrated?

That kind of self analysis may be all very well for minor acute conditions like coughs, colds and ear infections but what about the more serious stuff? How can I claim that these can be positive? Well there are undoubtedly heartbreaking conditions which strike without apparent rhyme or reason, affecting those who have led an exemplary lifestyle or who have not even had the chance to lead any lifestyle at all.  Of course to find the positive in these is extremely hard to say the least.  What I am talking about is the less controversial stuff, the stuff that inconveniences us, shakes us up, but doesn’t tear our soul apart and threaten everything that we have in life.

We don’t want to beat ourselves up about getting ill. As a herbalist I am not going to say to my patients ‘You are ill, it must be all your fault’.  This would be a guaranteed way of reducing my patient list!  Yet it is not right that I should encourage people to just take a pill or drink some tincture and then carry on just as before, only to get ill once again.  The cynically inclined could say that this would be better for business, but I would rather my patients learn to safeguard their health so they can stay truly well.

What then if we can see illness as a learning experience?  To see symptoms and suffering as our body’s plea for help.  To see that illness is our body’s way of letting us know that it is out of balance.  To understand that if we ignore it for long enough our body will have a full blown tantrum. Believe me if you can possibly avoid it then you don’t want to experience your body having a full blown tantrum!

To accept the positive in illness would involve a sea change in our attitude to it. We need to take responsibility for our own health and to take a more active role in our treatment.  It doesn’t mean that we have to become obsessive hypochondriacs or medical experts, but it does mean that we have to start listening to the language of our symptoms and understand what they are telling us. After all, each one of us is the expert in our own body, or we should be.

Helping people to decode signs and symptoms is a large part of my job here at the clinic. I spend plenty of time with my patients so I can understand the underlying reason for their health condition. I need to understand what is happening and why it has happened.  This is not always easy. There can be a puzzling maze of shifting symptoms and apparently unrelated events. But in the end, even in the most complex case, the root cause is there, waiting to be found …. if you look hard enough.

Once this underlying root cause has been found it can take time to start to address it. It is not easy to change one’s lifestyle and diet overnight, and a dramatic change is not always very sustainable. So the herbs are there to help and support. A carefully blended prescription will ease suffering and improve vital energy whilst beginning to tackle the underlying issue. With less suffering and more energy there is the motivation to start to take on board lifestyle and dietary changes.  Together we can look at ways to build sustainable health instead of glossing over the symptoms.

Sustainable health, vibrant energy, more joy – it sounds great doesn’t it!  To enjoy these we need to find and maintain a healthful balance. So, if we accept that regaining balance is a helpful thing, then maybe we need bouts of illness as a spur to make us sit up and take notice.  Illness becomes a positive nudge in the right direction.

So let’s make friends with our body! Let’s not blame it when we get ill. Let’s try to see illness as an opportunity to get back onto track, to re-adjust our course a little so that we can safeguard optimal energy and health.  We don’t want to waste time feeling tired and below par. Today is the first day of the rest of our life.  Let’s live it!

To find out more about Myrobalan Clinic please visit


About myrobalanclinic

I am a registered medical herbalist who uses a unique approach combining Tibetan Medicine with Western Herbal Medicine. I love my job - it is so rewarding seeing people taking control of their health and feeling healthier and more positive. I like to think that I help people get more out of life.
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3 Responses to Can Illness Be a Positive Experience?

  1. Belle of Mountains says:

    Well, if we realise that being ill is our body’s way of telling us something’s not working for it…then being ill could be a way of becoming more in tune with ourselves…a move more towards inner harmony, if you will…

  2. I loved this article! xx

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