by Laura Pilati
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“The motor for our lives is within us, regardless of our past.”
And that, my friends, is how I came to have a shrine in my home devoted to Christiane Northrup.
Just kidding. But I am only on page 37 of the 791 page tome that is Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom and I’m pretty sure that I’m about to have a spiritual epiphany.
Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a Dartmouth-educated OB-GYN. In 1994, she published the first edition of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, an international bestseller on holistic women’s health. Dr. Northrup has been featured on the Dr. Oz show and has been a guest writer in the Huffington Post.
In the first chapter of her most famous text, Dr. Northrup lays out the foundation to her medical philosophy: the mind-body-soul connection. One of the tenets (my word) of this philosophy is to “value ourselves deeply, name our addictive behaviors, and commit to living our lives fully and joyfully.” In turn, she explains, “our jobs and circumstances will begin to change.” First step for me? Naming those so-called “addictive characteristics”. Luckily for some of us in denial, she provides a easy-to-use table to help pinpoint some of the most common characteristics right here (scroll to page 19).
Among all the addictive characteristics in this table, I found that I had a weakness for four. Once I identified them, Christiane told me that I needed to learn how to “feel them fully”.
Gotta blame it on somethin’.
The first one on my list (and hers) is BLAME: believing that someone or something outside of yourself is the cause of whatever is happening to you. This one had manifested itself in several ways for me, but one of the most challenging was strangely related to my body. Many of you who know me personally know that I have experienced chronic back pain for several years, the root cause of which I did not originally know. When I began seeing a chiropractor about three years ago, however, she quickly helped me to determine that my injury originated from an accident that I had had approximately two years earlier. After I became aware of this piece of the puzzle, it became easy for me to pass blame and helplessness off on this accident–something out of my control. Every time I woke up in the middle of the night from a muscle spasm or just wanted to throw in the towel on physical therapy, my thoughts centered on this: this is not even my fault. But it totally was. I may not have asked for the accident, but I did agree to just lay there and let myself be helpless. And that’s just crazy talk–cause I know now that I can do something about it!
The second one I identified with on the list is DEPENDENCY: believing that someone or something outside of you will take care of you because you can’t do it for yourself. I recently came to terms with this one (before picking up the book, actually) after a period of stress in my boyfriend’s and my relationship. I think that the issue that I was experiencing is not uncommon to many women (and men) my age. I moved simultaneously to a new town and in with my boyfriend and then realized that I knew practically no one else in a 60-mile radius. Top that off with the fact that we had previously been living in a somewhat long-distance relationship, and…here we are. It took me a long time to figure out where this personally-inflicted discontent was coming from, mostly because I had nothing to compare it to. Now that I’m aware of my personal needs to get out of the house, get busy in things I enjoy doing, and have structured weekly activities for myself, I feel a lot more in control of myself.
My final two addictive characteristics somewhat “complement” each other–NEGATIVISM: seeing life in terms of lack and the SCARCITY MODEL (ZERO-SUM MODEL): believing that there’s a limited amount of everything that’s desirable: love, money, men, happiness. Of all four tendencies, these two are probably going to take me the longest to wrap my head around completely. I grew up in a home where finances were often tight and I subconsciously developed a very conservative spending style around that. When I make purchases–any purchases–I have guilt associated with them. Do I save plenty? Yes. And what on earth would I do with the leftover money otherwise? Fill up my basement with gold and do high dives a la Scrooge McDuck?
It’s hard to let something that hard-wired to your brain go. Do any of you relate to this tendency? What are your coping methods? I think what will help, for me, is to set more concrete financial goals and ritualistically remind myself to worry less about the rest.
This was a pretty personal post, so thanks for letting me start my healing process with you! Do you share any of these addictive characteristics with me? Have others you want to discuss? Are you totally obsessed with Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom? Let’s get all giddy about it.