If you have a confirmed diagnosis of IBS, and other diseases, allergies, and organic dysfunction have been ruled out, it’s time to stop seeking and start healing.
As a licensed psychologist who had IBS, I understand your frustration in not knowing the cause or cure for your physiological symptoms. I see this struggle every day as I work to help my patients heal and recover from IBS. Because there is no clear-cut medical cause, there is also, maddeningly, no sure-fire medical cure.
The night before I had my barium swallow test, a test in which you drink an awful, sludge-like liquid on an empty stomach, I wished that the doctors would find something specific that was wrong with my digestion. Then, I reasoned, they could operate on whatever organ was malfunctioning or at least give me some cure-all medication. Finally the excruciating pain I’d been experiencing for months would end. When I found out the test results were negative, meaning that my digestive organs seemed to be working just fine, I felt crushing disappointment. My IBS diagnosis offered no explanation for my awful, life-altering symptoms.
Since then, here is what I have learned…
Our brains want to solve problems, and that includes the problem that exists within your own body, be it physical pain, chronic constipation, diarrhea, or whatever your most debilitating symptom is. When you have a functional GI problem, your brain really likes to focus on solving that problem so that you can find ease again. Of course, the way our thinking brains know how to solve problems is by seeking the cause of the problem. If we can identify the cause, then we can address it. Unfortunately, this idea implies its inverse: if we can’t identify a cause, then we can’t address it. Often, our brains make this unconscious assumption.
But it is time to interrupt this unconscious process — right here, right now. Why? Because erroneous assumptions such as these can get in the way of your healing. Here’s what to focus on instead: When you have IBS (or another functional GI or even a non-digestive functional medical problem), you don’t actually need to have a clear-cut cause in order to heal your body.
Healing is available anytime you are ready for it.
So, if you’ve already gotten corroboration of your IBS from two or three physicians you trust, it might be time to stop seeking answers to questions like:
“Why do I have IBS?”
“What is the reason for these awful symptoms?”
“Why is my body doing this?”
Ultimately, these questions only lead to frustration. The truth is, if those questions were likely to lead to clear answers, you’d have answered them already. It has already been firmly established that there is no clear-cut cause for IBS. You could spend a lot more of your valuable time obsessing about these questions and getting closer to nowhere, or you could invest your time, energy, and effort in something more productive: your own healing.
Stop seeking and start healing. In next week’s blog, I’ll talk about what healing is.
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Don’t hate your guts. Instead, discover how to heal your body.
Watch the Stop Seeking, Start Healing video here: