Last week, when I posted Fighting Parkinson’s, and following your heart, I was not anticipating a part 2. However, the dialogue that transpired later that day in a coaching call with our friend Susan from Maine prompted me to write this part 2. Susan kindly has given me permission to write part of our conversation.
Last Thursday afternoon on her coaching call, Susan asked me a very important question about my post, “Fighting Parkinson’s, and following your heart,” from earlier that day.
She asked, “How do I follow my heart when my mind won’t be quiet.”
“What do you mean won’t be quiet?” I asked.
She said, “My heart wants a full recovery, and I want to follow my heart. However, my mind is filled with fear and self-doubt, and my mind keeps telling me that nobody can recover from Parkinson’s, so certainly I cannot recover from Parkinson’s, and then fear sets in and then no matter how many times I tell myself that worsening symptoms are a sign of recovery, my mind keeps telling me I am wrong. How do I quiet that mind?”
I began telling Susan that I engaged in what I call self-talk. I would tell my mind, “You are incorrect. I am recovering no matter what anybody else thinks, you included.”
Then I gave her this example: When I was close to my full recovery, I would have occasional spurts of “normal” movement. On one particular day, the shopping cart took off down the aisle like it had turbo boosters. I was walking in full stride and fast for the first time in 8 months.
In that moment, my first thought was “This cannot be happening; you have Parkinson’s.” As quickly as I could, I told myself, “This IS happening; you are getting better.” I pointed out to Susan that if you look at my knee-jerk mind’s reaction to a recovery event, my mind was in complete denial of reality. The reality was that I was flying down the aisle of the grocery store, and my mind was saying, “This cannot be happening.” Even in the face of recovery, my Parkinson’s mind could not handle it and tried to talk me out of it.
And then it hit me for the first time why this is so hard…for me back then, and for all of you now…CONFLICT!
People with Parkinson’s tend to be conflict avoiders, or should I say professional conflict avoiders. You, and me back then, tend to avoid conflict by making the other people happy, even if it means not speaking your truth (how you really feel). Self talk means conflict within ourselves. And why does this present such a big conflict?
Because, it is the neurologists, and some non-supportive family members, and some non-supportive friends, and most of the rest of the people on the planet who are telling you that you cannot get better from Parkinson’s. And there you are, the audacity of it all, following your heart and actually getting better. And your mind cannot handle the conflict. Your mind flat out denies the reality of your recovery and you struggle, absolutely struggle, to tell your mind, “No, you are incorrect. The reality is that I am recovering.”
And the struggle is because to speak your truth, even to your own self-criticizing mind, is the functional equivalent of speaking your truth to the neurologists, and to the non-supportive family members, and to the non-supportive friends, and to the naysayers, and this will create conflict with them. So, as a professional conflict avoider, you sheepishly say, “Yes, worse looking tremors mean I am getting worse; yes, you are right about the medications; I am sorry I even considered getting better; _____________ fill in the blank with whatever it is you say to yourself to deny the reality of your recovery.
And guess what? Your symptoms get worse. Why? Because you failed to speak your truth for fear of upsetting the other people. You avoid conflict with them, but you create so much internal conflict with yourself. It is why, in the end, I realized I needed to resolve my life-long conflict-avoidance-make the-other-people-happy-even-at-my-own-expense issue. It looked like this: “There is not one person on this planet worth me continuing to have Parkinson’s just to make them happy. I need to be happy first, and that is not selfish…IT IS NECESSARY!”
I have discussed this with many people with Parkinson’s over the last week, and everybody has agreed that this is it. And, I do not think they were just agreeing with me to avoid conflict. This is real. Your symptoms will get worse when you fail to speak your truth, the truth you are feeling when following your heart, and the reason your are failing to speak your truth is because your mind says somebody will not like what you are feeling in your heart and it may cause you conflict.
You feel you cannot win. Speak your truth and maybe have conflict with somebody else. Don’t speak your truth and guarantee you will have internal conflict within yourself. Nobody said this would be easy.
However, you have the choice to speak your truth or not, to be authentic and genuine with yourself or not, to express how you feel in your heart or not. The “or not” choice is based upon fear of conflict, a conflict that may or may not occur in the future. But also, the “or not” choice guarantees the kind of internal conflict that inhibits and prevents your recovery.
Feel your recovery in every fiber in your body, down to the depths of your soul, and make the choice that supports your truth, your authenticity, your genuineness to who you are in your heart. And, do it fearlessly!
Follow your heart to your recovery.
You are worth it!!!
All my best,