Expectations and Illness

by Leigh Matson, London, UK

Recently I have been looking at my expectations, about myself, others, life and situations and what I have been finding is that these expectations directly have an impact on my health.

One such example is that I called work today to say I would not be in due to a viral illness and while I was on hold waiting to speak to my manager, all sorts of thoughts came flooding in. Expectations of ‘I need to be apologetic,’ ‘I need to show that I will be back into work tomorrow, no wasting time ‘being ill,’’ ‘I can’t be ill because work won’t be able to manage without me’ etc. As well as the judgments of ‘you should feel bad because now you’ve placed more work on people’ …you get the idea. All in the space of being on hold on the phone, and in my body my heart was racing at a thousand miles an hour. This made me feel even more drained and worse than I did before.

Over time I have built a relationship with my thoughts in that I question their quality and relate it back to the way my body is feeling after certain trains of thought. Like for example, if I am thinking about a worrying situation often my heart will race. So in this particular moment I clocked how all these worries were affecting my body that was already feeling unwell due to the viral illness. I then paused for a moment and came back to my body and the warmth that I know is there to support me and as soon as I did the thoughts stopped!

I can still feel the illness, but if I push myself to meet these expectations I am now more aware of the impact that such a push creates in the body through discomfort, aches and pains. These messages from the body have always been there, but now there is a responsiveness on my part that has learnt to listen to these signals and if I don’t, then the consequence is more ill health.

As I have taken the time to pause and be with these expectations, I get to feel their quality and firmly state ‘No’. The more I repeat this, the more obvious these expectations are should I fall back into them, because I am now more aware of the reaction in the body that acting out such expectations causes.

There is such a negative view and relationship with illness and disease in the world today, such that if you say you are ill or have a condition it can bring up responses or reactions in others such as ‘That’s life,’ ‘Poor you,’ ‘That sucks’ etc. But when I give myself the chance to pause and feel how my body relates to ill health, all that heavy emotional loading is not there, it is simply a moment which I can learn from. For example: when there is a cold sensation in my hands, often there are cold, hard thoughts in my head and the illness is no different in that it is showing me (without all the drama) that the body needs some extra care in this moment and it is not a failure.

These learnings have come about through my involvement with Universal Medicine and the teachings of the Ageless Wisdom as presented by Serge Benhayon. A way of life that brings a focus back to the body that we live with every day and not just remaining in one’s mind or headspace, as we have been taught and educated from young to believe is the way to be in life. Instead the body is given a far greater presence in life and its communications and responses to human life are vital, if not a basic key to true health, well-being and vitality. This has certainly been my experience thus far.

Another teaching is that ‘the body is our marker of truth’ and from here everything and anything can be understood, should we choose to take the time to connect and listen to our bodies, I have found this is a constantly expanding process. However, there are socially acceptable behaviours and ways of relating to the body that have impacted my relationship with my body, for example, that the body is there to allow us to party, to pick apart in the mirror, to get us from A to B, to just function and so I have had to gradually re-learn how to listen to my body’s messages.

This initially started with going to the bathroom when needed, such a simple task, but at first it was not so easy as there were so many things that I had placed ahead of even basic bodily functions, whereby I would hold it in for hours on end. Those outer expectations are still around today, but now I can say that the body is being given more input as to whether those impulses to perform certain behaviours are true or not. What I have learnt is that the body would never willingly put itself into a situation whereby it would become ill or diseased. Listening to the body when all around me there is the inclination, if not downright use of force, to ignore this innate inner wisdom is something that I am developing.

This experience has got me wondering – how much of our illnesses and diseases could be alleviated, or supported to not be as dire, if we were to take off the weight of our expectations and reactions towards the process of illness and disease? And is it actually the illness or our perceptions of illness that make it the heavy, burdensome, depressing or downright loathsome situation it can be? This was certainly my experience in the past, whereby I thought myself a failure for getting ill, and pushing myself through the pain to ‘fight the illness’ was seen as a good thing. You wouldn’t drive a car with flat tyres, so why do we continue to push our bodies, making matters worse by expecting it to function as normal when it’s calling for rest and care due to illness?


Read more:

  1. Self-loathing and low self-esteem
  2. What are illness and disease?
  3. Starting a new relationship – the pictures we hold 

982 thoughts on “Expectations and Illness

  1. This understanding has also been revelatory in my own life Leigh, and you have beautifully expressed it here: “…the body is given a far greater presence in life and its communications and responses to human life are vital, if not a basic key to true health, well-being and vitality.”
    How simple the inherent premise is – listen to our body, and respond to what we ‘hear’ – and yet how intently we have been disposed to resist this, over and over again… continuing to behave in ways which we do know are harmful, damaging…
    And so the essential understanding also presented by Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon from day 1, i.e. the difference between ‘spirit and soul’, is also key to not only our own self-healing, but deeper appreciation of healing as a whole, and just who/what has been ‘running the show’ in our bodies, and having us live and treat ourselves as far less than the magnificence we truly are, and deserve to live in and by, every day.

  2. Going deeper with this I have found that while my thoughts can be traced back to the quality within my body. How I move my body can ensure the quality of my thoughts. We get trained to live from the mind and the process of returning to the body I have found started by entertaining the idea of listening to the body in my mind. Now if I make the choice to walk taller, wash my hands gently etc then the mind doesn’t need reining in, focusing with a strain or being dominant because it feels lovely being present with these more loving movements.

    1. Great addition, Leigh. By working with and engaging our mind in what we do, rather than fighting it, is far more successful in dissolving the negative thoughts and in time our mind and body work in tandem.

  3. Since starting to read blogs like this, i have been so much more aware of how apologetic and frustrated I get when I am not feeling 100%, or how dismissive I have been of my bladder when I have needed to go to the toilet, and how much I simply override all the signs telling me I need to stop.
    These days, I stop what I’m doing and I go to the toilet…the next step for me is not rushing to get back to my desk. This I’m working on. It’s crazy, it’s like I now give myself permission to go to the loo, but then I make sure I’m super quick. It is unbelievable the expectations we place on ourselves when we start to unpick them.

  4. It is a sad state of affairs, as the saying goes, that we can feel guilty when we take time off work to recuperate from an illness and so often end up going back to work before it is wise to do so, ending up even sicker down the track; that really doesn’t make sense. And I have seen staff in offices full of a cold, sneezing and coughing, spreading their bugs with no consideration for anyone else, and the illness count grows. Self care needs to part of every business model, as well cared for and rested staff are definitely going to be happier and more productive, something every business owner would appreciate.

    1. I completely agree Ingrid, if business was based upon love rather than on money and profit being its sole objective, we would have a very different world. One in which people would enjoy going to work, which few truly do under the current system.

  5. A great realisation you have shared Leigh, observing a certain quality of thought in relationship to how our body is feeling. This highlights how important it is to be present and feel what is true from our body and what it is communicating rather than relying on or being controlled by our thoughts that does not take in account the true impact certain thoughts and actions have on our body.

  6. All expectations come from outside of us, when I connect to and listen to my body it doesn’t expect anything. In separation to my body the mind expects that I should say this, plan that, eat this and certainly not that. This is exhausting and coming back to this blog I can appreciate that with the support of Universal Medicine I have been provided the tools to root out and expose where these expectations have come from.

  7. Great blog Leigh. People’s perceptions of cancer is an example that comes to mind. Understandably most react fairly strongly to discovering that they have cancer but if they but realised that the cancer is clearing stuff from their bodies and actually a healing, with such a perception embracing the cancer as a friend feels so much better than fighting it.

  8. Thank you Leigh, I appreciated the simplicity you shared of coming back to the warmth of the body when thinking becomes negative in any way. It’s too easy to get caught up in the mind, yet the whole body is there and feels beautiful to connect to.

  9. Awesome writing, Leigh. Last year I took my first day off work…ever! I didn’t even get to the point where I’d phone my manager – I prided myself on going into work regardless of how poor I felt. Needless to say those days are over – I’m not perfect, but I’m definitely taking better care of myself.

    1. That’s awesome Nick. When we’ve been in a pattern for so long and start to break it that is well worth celebrating. And I know my body certainly celebrates when I drop the pressure to do something it doesn’t want to do.

  10. Love the analogy of driving a car with flat tyres which seems so obvious but when I look back at the number of times that I have felt a failure for getting ill and then pushed myself to keep going and often ended up being ill for longer it feels all too familiar. Accepting that my body is clearing and the more I can support it in this process lifts so much of the heaviness of my own expectations around how I should be and about ideals and beliefs of e.g. not letting other people down and doing the ‘right’ thing. Choosing to treat my body lovingly and listening to its messages has been harder than I expected – there I go again having expectations around how I should be?! Now writing myself a prescription for love and tenderness without expectations…

  11. We do tend to take far more care of our cars and other precious belongings than we do our own body, because we feel responsible for the things we own, yet somehow we lack responsibility for ourselves. If we don’t look after our cars they breakdown, and equally when we don’t care for ourselves we too suffer illness and disease.

  12. I agree with where the articles is headed and there are many ways we look at illness and disease and it usually has a negative spin. Like you’ve done something wrong and this is the punishment. Due to this we then try and avoid, run or push through anything to do with them. This is fair enough, because at this point we’re not truly supported in how to be in illness and disease. Even through this article, illness is looked at as a point to be avoided, when in fact could it be something that is not only a result of a choice or choices and our body giving us a point to heal these, but part of a much bigger outplay or healing that involves more than just us. When we become unwell often we are reflective and see why we got where we did, at time we make steps to support ourselves so it doesn’t happen again, but what truly happened? Like a cold or flu did the person on the bus coughing really ‘give’ us the cold or flu or yes was this a part but how did we end up with their illness? What is the bigger part at play in anything like this? The world communicates with us all the time, literally all the time and then we gauge, measure or choose what part we see or listen too.

  13. ‘You wouldn’t drive a car with flat tyres, so why do we continue to push our bodies’… hmm this is something for me to ponder on as when our list of things to do hangs over us and teases us like a proverbial dangling carrot despite being tired and exhausted we still push ourselves to get it all done. Great analogy Leigh, resulting in a great wake up call for me.

  14. You raise a great point here Leigh… ‘how much of our illnesses and diseases could be alleviated, or supported to not be as dire, if we were to take off the weight of our expectations and reactions towards the process of illness and disease?’ It seems that when we are ill, our mind set changes, we can become negative, down and depressed… all because the body is feeding back to us that it needs some care and attention. Interesting how we have made our life to be and yet it is just a matter of turning the mindset around to become something more supportive.

    1. This is something I am looking at deeper currently, when the ache or pain comes up it can be almost automatic to adopt and identify with the ache or pain. But what if the ache or pain or illness is in us but it was NOT us? And that it’s a message to look deeper within to who we truly are.

  15. Everything we do or don’t do affects our body – for example, not going to the toilet and holding it in affects the heart rate, something that can be easily measured. We forget that it is not just about the bladder in these instances, a stretchy sac that accommodates the extra volume, but about the homeostasis and wondrous cooperation between all body systems and parts.

    1. I know that one well and it’s such a simple foundational message to listen to these days as it not only affects the bladder but as you say the heart and the mind becomes stressed, the body tenses and starts to drain on energy the more we try to push beyond what the body is asking for. Whereas when we go when directed there is an ease and lightness that returns to us almost instantly. It pays to listen to the body.

  16. I can so easily relate to your call to let your work know that you were sick and not coming in, and to how the thoughts that often race through our minds at this time – especially for me the ‘I’m letting everyone down” guilty thought – can make us feel worse than we actually are. And could it be because we are already preparing, bracing, ourselves for a negative reaction? How freeing it is though from those draining thoughts and fearful expectations when we can share honestly and openly without any guilt whatsoever – a healing session in itself and sure to be felt by the person on the other end of the phone.

  17. .’ So in this particular moment I clocked how all these worries were affecting my body that was already feeling unwell due to the viral illness. I then paused for a moment and came back to my body and the warmth that I know is there to support me and as soon as I did the thoughts stopped!’ How wonderful is this. We have the power at our fingertips all the time. Can we choose to reconnect to ourselves and grow love in our bodies and change channels, so to speak, or not? We know the consequences.

  18. Connecting and listening to my body is a commitment to self but I am beginning to realise that unless there is absolute connection to self then everything that is seen to be doing is of no use and worthless as it has not one ounce of love in it.

  19. Many times when being ill, I noticed that as soon as I made a doctor’s appointment or had to phone in sick to work, suddenly I would feel better and try to convince myself to go in, and I would agonise with myself about the decision to stop and take time to heal and get well again. What seemed to happen was I would feel so guilty for getting sick and having to take time off that inevitably I would end up going back too soon, and on occasions have been sent home again. This is a classic example of putting others needs above your own – I would not recommend it.

  20. Leigh it is very true we would never drive a car with four flat tyres, imagine the horror of seeing that on the road! We would be having thoughts such as “that person is damaging their car, it will cost so much to fix!” Yet we do this to our own body, another vehicle in a sense, and we ignore what others do to their bodies. It’s all so normal now to have a body that’s exhausted, that needs coffee to function, that gets pushed and shoved around, is ignored and used with injuries and illnesses and often doesn’t get to the mechanic…..I mean doctor! But we would seriously never do that with our car, but we do it with our bodies at much greater cost, including to our everyday quality of life.

  21. I have also experienced that feeling of having the heart racing when I’m going to communicate at work that I’m ill. It seems like I have to go through a thick fog before honouring what my body needs. Then I stop and ask to myself:
    Am I indispensable? No. Am I the only one who gets sick? No. Do I have to overlook what my body needs just because others don’t do the same or think that this is a selfish thing? No. Do I deserve the best treatment to be able to work in the best conditions? Yes. Am I offering a new option and example to others with the choice of taking care of myself? Yes
    Then everything gets simple and clear, my heart gets still and the choice is easy. No need of apologising, but the appreciation of this moment and everything I offer and receive with it.

  22. “The body is given a far greater presence in life and its communications and responses to human life are vital, if not a basic key to true health, well-being and vitality.” Well said Leigh, this has been my experience so far in building a deeper awareness and relationship with my body my lifestyle choices are now far more supportive and self-nurturing from listening to what my body is communicating and this has improved the depth of vitality I now feel and my overall health and well-being.

  23. “Listening to the body when all around me there is the inclination, if not downright use of force, to ignore this innate inner wisdom is something that I am developing.” I know this kind of situation and had one last week. I did not pass an exam and had a huge reaction towards myself and in that could sense how hard I made my body in that moment. My partner lovingly said that ‘it was time for some extra deep self-love and care’ which made me even more furious (at myself) because I found at that time it would not change the result of the exam. Yet it stuck with me because it is actually the only way out of misery and feeling lost because of an exam result. And why not being super loving, caring and understanding with yourself in such a moment? It revealed to me how the normal response and expectation of the world in such a situation is to beat yourself up, be devastated or something like that but not many would consider being truly self loving to be the activity to go to, even though it is the only true response at such a moment in my experience.

    1. I totally agree with you Lieke and I too have believed that I have to make a mountain out of a mole hill and be really hard towards myself (which also leads to being hard and making mountains out of others mistakes or imperfections). But what I am learning is that I don’t need to go into that, I can be super tender with myself in any situation and it is far more successful than creating drama.

  24. Our bodies will always offer us the real perspective of what the truth is of any situation. We have an incredible intelligence in our bodies, yet we are far from maximising the full potential all that is on offer through this relationship. Thank you for sharing with us just how empowering it is when we do choose to connect to the wisdom of our bodies, rather than the badgering and lack of worth that transpires if we allow our disconnected minds to lead the way.

  25. Expectations harm beyond words when we make this our every move in all parts of our life. There is so much that comes with the investment game that we can so easily get caught up that stops us from returning to the simplicity we know is on offer.

  26. These days even though more people are suffering with physical illness, depression and exhaustion, more companies seem to be a lot less tolerant when writing their sickness policy, and giving less leeway to their employees. Maybe this is in reaction to more people taking time off sick and companies having to foot the bill for staffing sickness. I personally remember the days when sick days were genuine but also sensible on the employers side of things, and I might add very rarely abused.

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