All physical illness has a psychogenic component. If you interview the illness, symptom, or pain, it will often tell you how your thoughts and feelings help to produce them and how they can be altered to make those physical symptoms diminish or go away. Jeri’s face has swollen up; the doctor didn’t know if it was an infection or an allergy. The swelling caused a strong feeling of pressure in her face. What would happen if we interviewed that pressure?
The pressure turned itself into a big brown bear. The bear said, “I am creating pressure in Jeri’s face. I’m just being big and ferocious. I’m pushing from the inside out. What I like best about myself is that I am big, powerful, and strong. There is nothing I dislike about myself. I have no weaknesses. If I could be anyway I wanted I would be bigger. I wouldn’t be contained in a small space. I would be five times the size of Jeri.”
Why don’t you go wherever you want, bear? “
“I am beside Jeri’s left side. I’m standing here. I’d rather be out in the wilderness, …so now I am. I’m running on all fours through trees, through the forest, just galloping through and being in nature. I most closely personify Jeri’s wild side! Her ferocious and untamed side. If I were in charge of Jeri’s life I don’t know that I would change it.”
Are you sick, bear? No.
If you had this illness that Jeri has, how would you handle it?
“I wouldn’t know to deal how to deal with it any differently. If I were in charge of Jeri’s life I would have different life issues. I would not be fearful of not being financially sound. I would spend quality time with myself and take time out to be in touch with myself outside of other people.
“If Jeri felt like me in these areas on an ongoing basis she would take the time to do activities on her own, by herself, whether it was taking a walk or a hike or something active. Venturing out to be active. She wouldn’t have worries around her finances. She wouldn’t constantly worry about how much she has and where it needs to go.
”I would recommend that Jeri imagine that she is me when she finds herself obsessing over a lack of money. She can imagine that she is me and that she is abundant and has everything she needs and will have everything she needs. Also, in moments when she feels alone or is feeling an absence, missing people in her life who aren’t with her. She can do one of those activities at that time. Getting out and taking a hike, for instance.”
If this swelling were a wake-up call from Jeri’s life compass the message would be that she doesn’t need to put so much pressure on herself and then worry about how things should be vs. how they aren’t. She has special gifts every day and she has herself everyday right by her side. Take the moments and opportunities to know that she has special gifts within herself, that she doesn’t need other people to give to her because she has what she needs right there inside herself. If she realized this she would feel healthy and vibrant again and energetic or that nothing is holding her down.
“I recommend that Jeri imagine letting me go out of her face, stopping the pushing. Just exiting through her mouth and letting me go off into the wilderness. Relaxing, having no fear. Knowing that she can have fun, be energetic and enjoying each day, like she likes to do.”
What I heard myself say is that I’ve had a lot of worries lately, especially around money. Having my sister here and people around, then having them leave and having that absence. That I need to let that go and turn to myself for that comfort instead of concentrating on being around someone else. The special gifts that others offer me are things that are parts of myself. I need to remind myself of this.”
In the subsequent days, Jeri practiced imagining letting the bear out of her mouth and into the wilderness. She reported that the swelling of her face went away. She also said that because of the interview she now believed that the swelling was related to her loneliness and her missing her family in Indiana.