Stress and disease

Again and again, my insights about health deepen. I would like to share my latest insights with you. I believe we can either step into our own energy or fight against it. One path will lead to health, and the other will lead to disease. I call stepping into your own energy ‘alignment’. The opposite movement I call’resistance’.

Of course, you have heard me say this again and again, but maybe this time it is slightly deeper than how I used to say it. Einstein said that the more words you need to explain something, the less you understand it yourself. I will merge my own story into this blog because I happen to be a living example of living in resistance. A life of stress and disease.

‘Fight or Flight’ vs. ‘Rest and Digest’

The nervous system has roughly two modes: parasympathetic and sympathetic. “Rest and digest” and “fight, hide, or flight.” The last mode is resistance; sometimes it can be very useful for a short while, but for me, it was my normal state of being. In the end, I forgot what it meant to be in alignment. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, I was addicted to stress hormones.

Stress and coping mechanisms

Every coping mechanism resembles in a way the ‘fight, flight, or hide’ mode.

  • For example, you can prove that you are worthy when you unconsciously believe you are unworthy (fight).
  • You can flee from feelings via addictions and pretend they aren’t there (flight).
  • You can hide yourself from other people.
  • On top of that, you can also treat yourself in a certain negative way, so others won’t need to say or do anything towards you anymore. (falling-in/victim mentality)

Most people spend around 70% of their time doing coping mechanisms, and thus they activate the stress mode of the nervous system. For people who develop a chronic disease, this might be as high as 90%. Long-term stress disrupts all functions of the autonomic nervous system, like the immune system, sleep rhythm, digestion system, and many other bodily processes.

Internal beliefs, feelings, and sensations

People often get sick after a stressor that floods the so-called ‘stress bucket’. This could be, for example, a loss, a breakup, an accident, a disease, or other traumatic experiences. If we haven’t learned how to deal with such an unwanted event, we probably would use our stress addiction to escape from such an experience. Personally, I experienced a breakup as an event. In my case, I used this former relationship as a band-aid to cover up emotional childhood wounds. After the breakup, I focused my energy on working for my company, getting a new girlfriend, and extreme fitness. These were my coping mechanisms to fight off negative beliefs and feelings in my unconscious mind. This way, I wouldn’t have to deal with the underlying cause (pain) behind it.

In the end, we do not only resist negative beliefs; we resist our entire being and reality. Emotions, external situations, traits—you name it. These rejections of reality and ourselves often come with negative thoughts, which we can then reject with positive thinking.

In our natural way of life, we need the fight or flight mode to occasionally fight, hide, or fly from an external danger. If an internal process activates the danger, however, we can never arrive safely.

As within, so without.

I felt like I needed connection, but I did not manage to reach it. Of course, it is hard to find connection in the external world when we don’t experience it inside of ourselves. As within, so without. I was always scanning the world and other people to see what their needs were and how I could manage to fulfill them in any way. This was a coping mechanism from childhood. It is also a denied (shadow) part of myself that seeks to manipulate others to get its needs met.

Stress personality

What kind of person do I need to be in order for other people to accept me? I chose to have a smart, funny, good-hearted, perfectionist, and laid-back personality. Every day, I was scanning and observing possible ways to express these desired qualities. The further I developed these qualities, the less connection I felt. My coping mechanism was to try even harder. For people with burnout, it is obvious that they are always in “on” mode. For me and most other ME/CFS sufferers, it was the only mode we had.

After trying a drug and starting to give up my ever-going pursuit of money, I collapsed in May 2015. First, I had a weird viral infection that lasted around 3 weeks, but I didn’t feel better afterwards. This was very scary for me, as I felt like I was losing everything I worked so hard for. The rat race was, for me, the perfect way to fight my inner feelings of unworthiness and lack.

Fighting frightening fatigue

The fatigue of chronic fatigue syndrome was also scary, and I was fighting it by pushing myself further than I actually could. Again, I was in resistance; I did not want to deal with the cards that were on the table. I was very good at denying and fighting reality, and for many months, I pretended to be better than I actually was. At some point, the brain fog was so bad that I had to tell my new girlfriend, as I forgot my home address and my own name at times.

Of course, she tried to be there for me, but the relationship didn’t last much longer. She had fallen in love with the personality I created. She was a vibrational match to the achiever I once was. I was fake, and reality was a hard pill to swallow for both me and her. Our symbiotic relationship ended, and I was relieved to not feel forced to be someone I could no longer be. I was a giver, and she was the taker. I couldn’t give anymore, ending a conditional love story.

Stress and the nervous system (ANS)

Currently, there is widespread acceptance of the dysregulated nervous system theory. According to that theory, the nervous system becomes dysregulated after many years of extreme stress. Getting a diagnosis is tricky, as each diagnosis will depend on the type of doctor who makes it. ME, CFS, POTS, fibromyalgia, and there are literally thousands of other labels depending on how your particular symptoms manifest. Dan Neuffer from ANS REWIRED says that all these different labels are, in essence, the exact same disease. Dysregulation of the nervous system.

What if there is nothing wrong with the nervous system itself?

I used to repeat this theory as well, but after working with more than 1000 different clients, I no longer believe that there is anything wrong with the nervous system. The nervous system reacts to resistance. The nervous system calms down instantly when it completes the stress response or applies fight or flight in a good way (EMDR). Establishing a state of homeostasis is easy.

That doesn’t mean that it is easy, as there is currently a very good reason for your body to be resistant to certain things. It is my job to stop that resistance and express the old fight or flight energy from your body in a way that actually completes the stress response.

In the book ‘When the body says no’, Gabor Mate describes the personalities behind every major disease, like various kinds of cancer, e.g. In my opinion, the ME/CFS personality is more or less what I described as my coping personality. To put all the different personalities for every chronic disease on one big pile, the commonalities are the following:.

  • Resisting reality, beliefs, internal feelings, and emotions
  • Having a variety of strong (unconscious) coping mechanisms
  • Not knowing personal boundaries
  • Disconnection with oneself and the body.

There are three modules designed to help you implement new habits that will eventually lead to calming down your nervous system, thereby facilitating recovery.