Is there a Spiritual Cause?
Chances are, you or someone you know has Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. 45 million people, in America alone, suffer from the symptoms of IBS. IBS is a set of symptoms that affects the large intestine, also called the colon. Symptoms include diarrhea and constipation, abdominal cramping, bloating, gas, and the associated fatigue.
In recent years, the incidence and diagnosis of IBS have increased dramatically. I have noticed, that in the last 5 years, the number of clients who come to me already having been diagnosed with IBS has climbed exponentially. As a Shaman and Doctor, I had to ask myself, why do so many people have this? What is the deeper, spiritual meaning?
I’ve discovered that IBS is not a disease in itself. It is a set of symptoms indicating a deeper and more intricate problem. On a scientific, physical, and quantifiable level, the syndrome known as IBS can be caused by any combination of the following:
- microbial imbalance (lack of beneficial bacteria, or overgrowth of molds, fungi, bacteria, parasites, or viruses)
- organ dysfunction (an imbalance or deficiency in the function of one or more of the organs of digestion)
- and food allergies and intolerances.
But, what is missing from the conversation is the mental and emotional piece of the puzzle. I haven’t met a client yet, with a diagnosis of IBS, who didn’t have myriad negative emotional blocks with a strong link to their physical symptoms. However, the most interesting and nearly universal aspect of this discovery is that these same clients have become so talented at stuffing their emotions, that on first inquiring, they deny that these emotions exist.
So, I dug a little further. Which came first? Did strong emotions cause the digestive upset or did digestive symptoms wreak havoc on the emotions? I’d wager that it was the emotional pattern.. Now, not all of my clients who have IBS resonate with this concept…at first. But consistently, once we start asking the right questions, we identify trauma, sadness, anxiety, or a general feeling of fear that permeates the person’s inner reality. In my clinical experience, it has almost always been linked to a patient’s reaction to a judgmental and controlling parent. And, it is this light bulb of recognition that sets off a domino effect of acknowledgment of a deeper, more sensitive issue.
We, as children, look to our parents for unconditional love and acceptance, combined with a sense of routine, boundaries, and discipline. I can tell you, as a mother, that this balancing act requires constant attention. If I give my son too much acceptance without boundaries for his actions, I have a situation where he is becoming the one in charge…nota bene! But, if I show love, affection, and understanding, with a crystal clear picture of myself being the one who is steering the ship, well, that is the magical sense of loving stability that we all crave. We crave stability because it creates a sense of safety.
Clients with IBS have usually experienced an upbringing that was too much of the boundaries and discipline side with too little love and acceptance. This created a sense of needing to be in control of themselves, and sometimes others, at all times. This sense of control is actually a false sense of safety. The subconscious thought is this: “If I can remain in control, then I will be safe.” This, in turn, leads to a deep desire to “hold on tight” and not make any mistakes. They hold on tight until they can no longer maintain this level of control, followed by a loss of control. This translates, in the physical body to intestinal muscle spasms (a.k.a. cramping), constipation, and diarrhea.
The associated archetypes (personality type) in these patients are the Ruler or the Hero. I also sometimes see it in Nurturer Archetypes. (Although it can be others.) Rulers are often inflexible, a perfectionist, and detail-oriented. The Hero does everything they can to protect others. But, these are more extreme versions of these personalities. These patients are disconnected from their emotions and tend to say things like, “That doesn’t really bother me” (when it does indeed). Or they say things like: “I don’t think about that anymore” (when they have merely stuffed that emotion).
When a person has been stuffing something painful for 30+ years, even they don’t know that they are doing it. They have become so good at holding in their emotions that you would never know it. This leads to problems with self-expression. They struggle with admitting their emotions and feelings to themselves, let alone others. They tend to avoid relying on others for anything. Therefore, on a subconscious level, they are operating from the limiting belief of, “I have to do it all myself.” Sound like anyone you know?
So, what do we do with this information? We start clearing out the years of painful emotions, trauma, and stuck energies. We also do laser-focused healing on the digestive tract.
Next, we identify what this person is really craving on a spiritual and emotional level. With the mindset of having to do it all themselves, they are craving to be able to ask for help when they need it. They tell me that they do things themselves so that it will be done right or because everyone relies on them. Classic IBS mindset.
The other subconscious craving is acceptance. This pattern began in childhood and is kept alive in the wounded inner child, who is the ruler of the subconscious mind. The acceptance that they needed from their judgmental and controlling parent never manifested. So, they continue to be in a rut of needing acceptance on a soul level, not getting it, stuffing that emotion, and not even knowing what they need. Once a person has reached adulthood, we can no longer expect our parents to provide the acceptance that we crave. Instead, we have to “grow up” and give that to ourselves. This is the basis of the self-love that we have all heard so much about.
Therefore, the spiritual remedy for IBS is being our own accepting and nurturing parent. Creating, within ourselves, the balance between discipline and unconditional love, between holding on and letting go. This is deep work, folks. The acceptance that we used to crave from our parents, and that we still crave from our fellow humans, can only come from ourselves and our connection to the Divine. Let’s face it, human approval is fleeting. Self-approval is no different until we address the deep need to be consistent with approving of ourselves. This isn’t the same thing as approving of every move that you make. Self-approval, or self-love, is really loving yourself through your humanness, through your mistakes. Because you will undoubtedly make more mistakes in your lifetime. We are human, after all.
If any of these sound familiar:
- serious and controlling
- focused on perfection
- emotionally blunted or confused
- judgmental and opinionated
- or holding onto anger about your childhood..
then dear one, what you really need may not be the latest pharmaceutical or another supplement. It might be a good idea to delve into the deeper aspects of what ails you. In order to reestablish balance within your digestive system, it would behoove you to look at how else you are imbalanced.
Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself:
- Where am I too disciplined with too little acceptance?
- What am I having difficulty “digesting” in my life?
- Which toxic emotions and thoughts am I still storing from my past?
- What are the painful stories and memories that I still replay in my mind?
The answers to these questions are rather illuminating. Let yourself identify, acknowledge, and feel your feelings. If this is brand new to you, start out with acknowledging something that annoyed you that is minor, or forgiving a tiny mistake. Let yourself admit that trying to do it all yourself is exhausting and, yes, help would be lovely. Start by coming clean to yourself first. Let your true feelings be revealed. For that which is revealed is ready to be healed.
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Love and Naughtiness,