Tracy slumped down on the chair. “Not only do I feel sick and tired today, but I want to talk about how I’m sick and tired of people telling me I can win the ‘fight’ against this disease. I hear about my battle with it and how I have to kill the cells that are replicating. This is my BODY, not some battleground with the enemy!”
She smiled then. “I mean, really, I’m the kind of person who gets a cup to capture a spider in my house to take it outside. I try not to kill anything, so maybe that’s why this type of talk about my body and this disease doesn’t sit right with me”.
Tracy has a point. Doctors have long known that patients have more positive outcomes if they:
The use of battleground imagery in discussion of disease may have begun with the best of intentions. After all, it is empowering to think of slaying the dragon. On the other hand, times have changed. Many do not find images of a war going on in their body as empowering. In addition, people like Tracy have moral and spiritual beliefs that make these types of visualizations uncomfortable or even noxious. Fighting the good fight is not motivating for her, does not help her feel optimistic, and does not use appropriate imagery to empower her. As a method to get to a more positive outcome, fighting words form a roadblock.
One of my teachers is an inspiring woman who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and is living now, over 30 healthy years later. She taught me about the treatment of disease and pain using individualized positive visualization. When battleground imagery did not resonate with her during her treatment, she chose to change it. She spent time and worked with others to perfect an image that resonated with her. She decided to view her cancer cells as little children of her body, desperate for love. They were so desperate for love that they misbehaved by making themselves bigger to get her attention.
She began to notice where she had not loved herself and set out to rectify that. Every treatment, every doctor’s appointment, and every conversation with herself about her disease began with sending love to the cells that were so desperate for attention. She tells me that she did not fight her cancer to death; she loved her cancer until it willingly submitted.
My teacher’s imagery was her own, and worked for her. It is not the imagery that will resonate for everyone. Deep inside each person there is a self that knows what imagery is necessary to assist in the healing process while maintaining a positive focus.
Assisting in accessing that imagery has been a rich experience for me. I am continually astounded by the beautiful images that people tell me about when I guide them to discovering their own imagery. Some are very medical. A person may see white blood cells flowing to an area. Some are pure fantasy, like when a person sees a troop of elves pour glue on a broken bone, knitting it together. Playing with visualizations need only to answer these questions: