Health is a Question of Balance

Mary H/ May 15, 2013/ Paul Brenner, MD, PhD

(Original Post from Dr. Brenner’s personal Blog, May 15, 2013)

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” by Rumi

For the past ten years, I have worked as a Psychosocial Oncologist at the San Diego Cancer Center, now under the aegis of the University of California San Diego Health Systems.  My joy involves empowering individuals through their course of therapy and trying to unravel any psychological hindrances that might interfere with their recovery.   The psychological process I used is based on three simple questions (1).  The first question asked is: What did you appreciate most about your mother and father in the first ten years of your life?

The answers to these questions tend to represent the individuals primary values in life; How they show love to others; How they feel loved by others; How they tend to blame those who do not share their values, and finally, if they cannot live these values, they often become depressed. Illness, too often, may diminish the individual’s ability to live their values and so illness demands a new way of being.

These personally held values are lived unconsciously and reflexively.  But the opposite of every value, also has a value.  In essence, every gift has a hidden curse and every curse has a hidden gift.  This truth is often revealed if you take any value to its extreme. The most common value I have found in clients with illness is that they are selfless individuals who give themselves away.   These individuals tend to have extremely poorly defined boundaries.   They are incapable of saying,”No”.   However, their selflessness can be dis-empowering to others and can be extremely controlling.

Part of therapy beyond chemotherapy, radiation or surgery is to emphasize to these selfless individuals the importance of learning to receive, willingness to accept their helplessness, allowing others into there life and definitely, learning to say “No!”  They are also told to take care of themselves, surround themselves with positive people, not to take care of those who feel sorry for them and most importantly, to become more selfish, more self-loving, become number one in their life.  Health is a question of balance.  It is knowing when to give and when to receive, when to say “yes” and when to say “no.”. This transformation demands consciousness, mindfulness and not being reflexively addicted to habitual patterns.

The individuals at The Center are dealing with a transformational disease; their body is seeking change.  The question I ask clients is, ” what, if anything, needs to change within you?”  I try to assure them that they did not create their illness and they are not responsible for their illness.  I believe these folks took on trans-generational patterns from their ancestors and are now being asked to respond to what they were given.”  I believe, they took on ancestral emotional patterns as surely as the genetic color of their eyes.  In creating change in these patterns, they begin to heal past generations, themselves and the yet unborn.

 Next week:  the second question.

(I). “Seeing Your Life Through New Eyes”, by Paul Brenner and Donna Martin,

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Paul Brenner, M.D., PhD