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 

1,024 thoughts on “Expectations and Illness

  1. I can relate to what you say Leigh, about being nervous when informing your manager that you were not going to work because of the illness. It seems that there is a consciousness that we have allowed to run us in that way, waiting for the punishment and not giving ourselves the permission to show without guilt that we need some extra care because we are ill. We reduce ourselves and perform what we think they would like to see in us, when in fact there’s no need for all of that. Being ill is as simple as being healthy. Why not allow it to be seen as it is? Why not allow ourselves to feel and surrender to what our body simply needs? What a great reflection that would be, as well as an invitation for others to simply express what they feel in a similar situation. How freeing and clear that can be..

  2. Recently I’ve found that on the flip side when I am healthy, having expectations can make me ill. Last few days I’ve been enraged about a situation and it’s not been leading me down the path of vitality and health that’s for sure!

  3. Leigh, for me ringing in sick for work, I would often be consumed with guilt for letting them down, and it is so true, the place doesn’t suddenly stop functioning, it continues without us. We, on the other hand are being asked to rest, our bodies are definitely communicating to us that they need some respite. Yes the illness is uncomfortable at the time, but with nurture, care and support from the right practitioner, we recover.

    In the past, my perception of illness has changed from it being a hindrance, to bringing more understanding to it. I now observe which part of my body has been affected and as much as many may not accept, the energetic component to this, I explore this.

    Illness is more than the physicality, it involves the whole body, mind, spirit and soul.

    1. Funny how we don’t get those “They won’t be able to cope without me” thoughts when we go on holiday or leave the job…Only when we get ill.

  4. Having been ill for several weeks recently I have had the opportunity to explore my unrealistic expectations about how quickly I should get better and be back fully functioning at work. I tried to go back full-time and my body quickly showed me that was not possible and instead of beating myself up I chose to surrender and listen to my body in a way that I have never done before and this has allowed me to support myself to rest as well as gracefully accepting help from others without any need to justify myself.

    1. Helen, I too recently was recovering for several weeks, for me it was a bout of flu that lingered for many weeks. I was asked not only to rest but seek medical advice and support. As strange as this may seem, I could feel the flu was more than a virus, it was old stuff coming up for clearance.

      Resting or reposing is something I am learning to embrace when once upon a time, I was in so much drive that illness was a nuisance for stopping me in my tracks. While now I see it as a forum to going deeper into myself and surrendering to whatever is going on for my body.

  5. How much we get played by thoughts is just incredible, and equally incredible is that all it takes for us to know ourselves again is to connect with our body.

    1. And it’s so quick as well! Those thoughts if left unchecked will have us believe we can’t escape them easily. But once connected to the body it’s game over for them.

      1. And once we connect to the body our next move is clear and there is no space for abuse.

  6. We put so much pressure on to ourselves when it comes to being ill, mainly because we see it as a bad thing. Whereas in reality it is giving us the stop moment we need to clear the body and then to start living our lives in a new way.

      1. I agree Leigh, it does seem to be magnified, and what I have also noticed is the amount of anxiety and guilt that comes into play when we have to take time off due to sickness. Making that phone call causes a huge amount of tension in the body and then as time goes by we put a pressure on ourselves to recover quicker than the body is capable of. We definitely need a new way of looking at sickness.

  7. Expectation comes from the pictures we carry, none of them true, and if we need to take time off due to illness we also need to be honest with ourselves as to why and how we ended up where we are, as it is through the choices that we make, that are either loving or not and we have an excellent opportunity to re-imprint them as we honour how our body is feeling.

    1. If we are honest with ourselves and find that these expectations not only are not true but the investment and attempts to fulfill them are what led us to being ill/unwell. It makes it easier to discard and not repeat the ill.

  8. It sounds crazy but it’s true, it’s certainly been my experience and now I feel my mind is not the place of wisdom and truth that I once held it to be. That position belongs to the heart.

  9. It’s so common to go back to work after a period of sick leave well before we should. But that drive to get back to work is coming from a mind determined to meet certain ideals or beliefs at the expense of the body and others (possibly infecting the workplace or making it harder for others by our ill presence)

  10. I totally agree – it is often our own reaction that turns otherwise a simple matter of fact into an issue.

    1. Once I get down to understanding the energy behind any ailment the reaction dies. The illness or pain may remain but it’s the reaction that causes the writhing around part.

  11. The more we look after our bodies and really honour how we feel, even when we do get ill, it is remarkable how quickly the body can recover due to the space it is given that it needs to heal.

    1. I remember having 2 wisdom teeth removed at the same time a couple of years ago. I took time off, rested and listened to my body and recovered in very little time. Another person was shocked by my painless recovery compared to someone they knew who had a horrendous healing period. My question to them was “How are/where they living at the time?”

  12. Depending on how tightly we hold our expectations depends on our health I’d say. Because the tighter we hold on, the less we hear or understand the messages of the body, the further off track we go. The more we listen to the body and experience the harmony of being in line or on track with what it is communicating and feeling the less tempting it is to hold those expectations.

    1. And even ones that make us feel worse. Like the “can’t be off for too long” – I did that and had a month long chest infection as I kept going back to work then getting sent home repeatedly.

  13. That’s the funny thing, we do not expect our cars to run on flat tyres, yet we expect our bodies to do so, and yet they never let us down (even when we think they do), they just keep letting us know what works and what doesn’t and the more we listen to them the more we live in rhythm with ourselves and life.

    1. When we have a flat tyre it’s very obvious that car ain’t going nowhere. Yet how can we be ill and still go out to work? By disconnecting to our bodies and living in ideals and beliefs that we have to carry on as normal and basically let someone /another energy drive our body around. I was going to go somewhere today (with a painful sinus cold) until I stopped in the morning, connected to my body, I called off the trip and went back to bed.

  14. That’s the thing we consider illness a failure and it’s so easy to go into a drive to get it over with quick rather than just being with it and respecting and honouring the body and once we do it allows us to feel more of who we are, of life around us and we start to see that everything is there for a reason and we can embrace it or fight it but there is no need to fight it and in fact when we do we just compound the impact on our body, sounds obvious but something that is so easy to do, and reading this reminds me that life, with or without illness doesn’t have to be this way.

  15. When I read your blog Leigh I am realising that these expectations in life are everywhere and in everything and I can feel how when I allow them to dictate how I should be or live there is definitely a tension in my body that does not feel natural and I reckon this is the beginning of any illness and/or disease.

    1. Even ‘small’ things like expecting oneself to reply to an email or text causes tension and yet this is one tension in our day (or multiple times) that goes along in ‘life’. Yet the impact later of such impositions (that we are controlling) is much worse.

  16. “when there is a cold sensation in my hands, often there are cold, hard thoughts in my head” This is an interesting observation and brings me back to the awareness of my body and being more open to looking at what’s going on at different levels – allowing myself to go deeper with my explorations, not in an analytical way but allowing my feelings more access and my body more voice.

    1. Sometimes my body gives me the same message over and over. A great reminder to day to check in with that part, even if at first I don’t understand it as the message has repeatedly been ignored, but eventually it will become clearer.

  17. We hold each other in an idea of what an illness or accident is by making it heavy, depressing, seeing it as a burden, a pity instead of to go deeply within and feel the opportunity every illness, accident offers us to connect with the love we innately are, or to deepen this connection through healing what is ready to let go of.

    1. We hold each other in this with conversations such as “Oh that’s horrible! Poor you etc.” Or helping each other fight a disease rather than accepting it and seeking an understanding of why it is in our life. It can be a huge support when we open up to others to help read the energy of an illness. They can give us an angle we haven’t seen previously.

  18. We tend to hold ourselves back when we flood ourselves with images in our head, our greatest guide is how our body feels and to honour that feeling.

    1. Hold back or stop all together. I was cracking eggs at work one day and noticed the more I was thinking the slower and sloppier my work became. Snapping back to the moment, feeling my body I was much more efficient and less egg shell in the mix.

  19. This is a great point you rasie here Leigh, that it is often our expectations that become uppermost when we are ill, rather than taking into consideration the full picture of what our body is going through. If we saw illness as the body’s way of clearing something out in order for us to be healthier/ stronger/more vital, then our whole perception of illness and being ill would change.

    1. For the past three years I’ve really been shown to what extent we can hold onto these pictures and expectations despite what the body is exactly feeling. Without connecting to the body and feeling the energy of that which we are holding onto that grip can be mighty fierce.

  20. Expectations are exhausting and the last thing we need when we are not well is added exhaustion.

  21. I still find my tendency is to feel I have failed when I get ill as if I expect my body to just keep going whatever is thrown at it. Even just writing this I can feel how unrealistic it is but yet I persist in struggling to allow my body the grace to heal itself when required and thus I am perpetuating behaviour that is not self loving or honouring of where my body is at, at any given time.

    1. Whats lovely about the body is that when we connect to it it will tell us where that attitude towards it stems from. To disregard ourselves is not truly from us in the first place, thus nothing to give ourselves a hard time for.

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