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by Joel Delaney.
Chronic conditions certainly can be hard to treat. My hope is that these 5 key points will help you get better clarity around what is working for you and what is not. I believe that this understanding can break a yo yo cycle of symptomatic ups and downs to a ground swell of fundamental, life changing results.
Above all, there needs to be clear understanding from not only the practitioner but also the client as to what you’re doing, why and how this will lead to symptomatic change.
5 Steps To Creating Long-Lasting Health Change
- Know what you’re assessing
First you need to understand what you are assessing or what you are trying to change. This might sound obvious, “I want my pain gone”, “I want my anxiety gone”, “I want to finally have energy”. But if we only assess one symptom, the magnitude of change can be missed. Pain can be a good example of what we are talking about. If you have chronic pain, you’re (a least at some level) using pain to assess how you’re going. If the pain gets better you’re doing better if the pain gets worse you’re doing worse and if the pain doesn’t change, you’re not getting change.
Chronic health conditions are not as simplistic as this and over time have included more and more aspects of your body, mind and being to help you cope. For example, when your body starts to work better your joints can move more. This initially might create a level of irritation that could increase pain. So if you’re going through this process and your pain stays the same, using pain as your marker for success, you would say: The pain is the same, therefore no change, not working.
But you could assess holistically and say: Well, I can move my shoulder more, my sleep is improved, my energy is better, etc, and this means something to us as practitioners. These are markers that the body is functioning better, which can help accumulate what the body needs to make healing possible.
Tools to assess: Assess in context. Find things that you do daily that relate to your symptom. E.g when I put my shoes on my back hurts, walking up the stairs to work = pain, etc. Likewise: Intensity, frequency, duration. Breaking down the symptoms into these categories so you can observe the process of change rather than just yes or no.
2. Assess retrospectively
Along the way to great change there will be highs and lows. This is normal. It is common with chronic conditions to focus just on the lows. “Oh, there’s my pain again….. I knew I could never be pain free”.
But if you look retrospectively combined with a clear understanding of what you’re assessing, you might say. “Hey, when I walked up the stairs to work it only was 2/10 pain, it cleared really quickly and I wasn’t out of breath, whereas last week it was a 5/10 and took a long time to clear and I was panting all the way to my desk”.
This might only be a small change but can make a big difference to building the momentum of healing.
3. With change comes change
This might sound silly but when you’re in the throes of change, this is important. What this means is the change you expect might not be the change you get (initially). The scope of assessment then needs to be broad. As the body gets “healthier” it can heal, problem-solve better and get you the change you want. So you want to know if the body is overall getting healthier.
Look for signs that the body is changing. Change accumulates to build more change. Assess the body as a whole (use Points 1 and 2 to help). E.g.
- Resilience to stress
- Breath quality
4. Proper order of change
The model here is: Crisis first, everything else second. When the body is in crisis all the effort goes to managing the crisis. This means everything else shuts down: digestion, reproduction, immune and healing. All these aspects are considered optional extras when in the face of crisis.
The crisis in the body might not be “specific” to the symptom you experience or worse still, the symptom you’re experiencing might by stopping you from making the crisis worse. For example, if your energy stores are low you will naturally start to run on your nervous system so you can get through the day. After a while you might feel anxious. While anxiety is very uncomfortable it might make you want to be at home away from “everything”. This can help the body recover its stores of energy. If you just took medication to “stop the anxiety” you can keep doing more and burning up your stores. This is when people say, the medication doesn’t work any more or I need more just to function. The core problem is actually low energy. Build the energy and the nervous system can maintain a balanced, calm state.
5. Be open to new beliefs
Beliefs drive action. If you believe something is good for you, you’ll keep doing it. If you believe it isn’t, you’ll stop. This is why I feel the above “keys” to assessment are so important. If you’ve tried everything you need to believe that something different is possible. You need to see the change, you need to stay motivated and be clear that while you’re having a bump in the road you can systematically see the changes that are accumulating.
Momentum and accumulation of effort are key. Sometimes just before great change, there can be a higher level of agitation in the system as the body reorders itself. This can often be seen as a negative and people stop what they are doing, therefore missing out on the big change they were looking for.
I hope these keys help you better understand what is happening for you so you can better see the change for what it is and get amazing, life changing results.