Spiritual health practitioners, let me first start by calling you in. I am humbled when I tell you that I have health shamed my clients, loved ones and self. It's true. None of this was conscious or intentional of course. There are unintended consequences to our behaviors. I am an unlearner and when I know better, I do better and I teach others to do better. We all have so much on our plate during these times just getting through the day to day can seem unbearable. I hope we can still continue to learn, unlearn and grow so that we can raise the vibration of our professions and seriously help others.
On the topic of psychology, somatic healing, spirituality I feel inclined to post a public service announcement regarding spiritual health shaming. I am not totally sure what to call it so if you have a better name, please share! It feels similar to when you go to the doctor for your check up and you feel totally judged for your weight. Health shaming has been a big topic the last few years and I would like to include those in the mental health or spiritual health sectors. I can not tell you how many times I have been in to see a health practitioner, especially one that is spiritually inclined, who reminds me how physically healthy they are and if I just do their program, I too will be that healthy. “I am 60 years old and not on meds” and it's the energy work I do that keeps me this way, buy my course. “I am 90 years old and I do yoga daily and sit on my head”....well ok maybe I would take that woman’s yoga class, baller. Seriously though, when I hear something like this, and I come in contact with my shame and guilt, I move on immediately. I used to think that I had to go back and work on my shame, guilt and health! Now I realize that it is just time to find someone new. Those toxic feelings are signs to me that the practitioners I am seeing do not get it, are not informed, and will not be the best fit for me to work with.
New script: Thank you body for giving me signs of shame and guilt when I am in an unhealthy relationship with my health practitioner. I see your wisdom and will move out of this relationship.
While I am a healthcare nut (professionally and personally) and participate in lots of healing modalities to keep me aligned, I am also someone who has struggled with health related issues for years. Yes I am a healthcare provider with health issues, imagine that?! Honestly, my health issues have been my greatest teachers (if you want to get spiritual). It is why I have done so much training from energy healing, to shamanic practices in South America, to traditional psychotherapy to neuroscience, fitness, nutrition courses to degrees in psychology and religious studies. My 20 year list of “health & spiritual training” goes on and on. I have not only learned what supports me and my body, mind and spirit but I have also been able to help tens of thousands of others. I think I am better for all the things I do to keep me mentally, physically and spiritually fit and I keep learning more and more each year about the complexity of our health. You know what is important to me? My unique path. I hope I can help others find what works for them.
We need all sorts of medicines, herbs, supplements, and experiences to keep us “healthy”. Not being on meds does not equate to how spiritual you are! I have been in many spiritual communities where people can not feel their bodies because they have meditated so much and have trained themselves to dissociate…some to the point of psychosis. I have had people in my life who are spiritually bypassing their issues and have no idea how to be in a relationship with anyone and are beyond dysfunctional but disguise their abusive behaviors or abandonment issues under their spiritual practices. (Yuck!)
Spiritual health shaming leads people to feel as if something is “wrong” with them. It can become a “God trauma” so to speak. While I believe in the non physical, and have only a slight knowledge of what is out there that is beyond us, we are currently humans on planet earth. We have earthly issues, genetics, and traumatic life experiences. Our planet is filled with toxins (can we be more conscious and clean it up please?). The list goes on and on as to why we have health related symptoms.
I once worked in Oncology and there was a young woman in her early 30s, Ironman triathlete, who sucked on green juice and organic vegetables all day long. She was single, well rested, happy and had a wonderful career. She had ovarian cancer. As I watched her for over a year come and go for her (very invasive and painful) treatments, she would cry to me. She could not understand why she was doing all the right things.. praying, exercising, eating organically, drinking green juice her whole life and she was still at the point of cancer. She was health shaming herself and coming in contact with the collective fake standards for “health” that are simply traumatic. It was a terrible process to watch and one that I couldn’t quite grasp at the time myself being in my mid 20s. This woman died of cancer feeling like she did something wrong and was not healthy enough. How sad is that? I get it now and I still see it going on!
We see health shaming all the time and spiritual health shaming is just another way practitioners (often unconsciously) make patients feel terrible about themselves. If you are a practitioner I call you to raise your awareness around this and try to offer ways that you can help and support without making your clients/patients feel judged.
Here are some tips to help us decrease the spiritual health stigma as practitioners:
My wish for you all is that you find a community of health practitioners who do not cause you to feel shame, guilt or fear but who can partner with you on this path called being human. Spiritual health practitioners, I know you have a lot on your plate and you are human too. If you know better, do better. I hope we can all raise our awareness just a little bit more so that we can help support more people in their healing journey. I look forward to unlearning from you too.
With light and love, Kim