The Value of our Expression in Research

By Jen Smith, RN, Australia

Two years ago I participated in a research study on self-care for health professionals who work in palliative care. It was a qualitative research study where I was interviewed on what self-care was to me, how I understood it and how I applied it to my own life. This interview was a wonderful experience, which I shared in a blog at the time called ‘The Value of Qualitative Research -Understanding and Expression.’  

The research has since been published and it’s had me pondering further about what we call research.

In fact, I re-read the article that I wrote on my experience at that time. As a result of participating in that research I came to new understandings about:

  • Myself, working as a nurse and how important self-care is
  • How confirming it was to discuss with a researcher how my life has changed with the simple activities of self-care
  • Research itself and how amazing it was to participate in a research study.

As I read the research article there was very little, if at all anything on what I had expressed. Not that this is an issue necessarily, but it highlighted something very important to me. There is an intrinsic value and importance to our own expressions and experiences that persists even if they are not reflected directly in a research study, that does not make our experiences any less. Our experiences are just that… our experiences and remain valuable to us because they have been our experiences.

This then lead me to wonder about how some research is more highly prized than others, which was part of my contemplations in my previous article. Something that I did not even consider as part of research were case studies. Case studies are basically regarded academically as the ‘bottom of the barrel’ when it comes to research.

Why is this the case?

Well, one reason could be that there is no money in this form of research, but what stands out even more is the power held within each case study. Because in each case study is a person who is sharing a lived experience. That experience is completely owned by that person and is completely alive within their body.  And when we share ourselves in such a way it can inspire others to look at themselves and their lives and to ask deeper questions about themselves. It becomes an intimate and personal connection through this way of sharing. Something that is rarely, if at all, the experience of other research.  There is no criticism of other forms of research here, just a recognition that this is what this method of research offers.

So, the question I have now is: why is it that we do not value case studies or our personal experiences on an equal footing in terms of research?

As I read through many of the blogs on this and other sites, each blog, which is a potential case study, has invited me to ask deeper questions on life, to reflect more deeply on my relationships, on the meaning of medicine, health and wellbeing and on the person that I am. To me this personal form of exploration or research is as valuable and important as any other form of research. In fact, given the results from my own experience, and how such personal changes have inspired me to make true and lasting changes in my own life, I would say they have been much more important.

Read more:

  1. The Value of Qualitative Research – Understanding and Expression 
  2. Measuring the form of behaviour – a failing of evidence based research in mental health 



519 thoughts on “The Value of our Expression in Research

  1. “Case studies are basically regarded academically as the ‘bottom of the barrel’ when it comes to research.” This does seem completely opposing, as to me, what truer evidence is there than that of someone’s lived experience?

  2. A big push in research is that you are supposed to specify before a trial what you are going to find. There are sound-looking statistical reasons behind this push but on first principles it seems strange that you are supposed to know what the result will be when you engage in a ‘trial’ or do re-‘search’. What kind of research knows the result (even in outline) beforehand?

    1. The practice of stating what you are going to find before doing scientific trials and research is a common and respected practice in the scientific world…

      and to me, this seems a great big elephant in the research room…
      On the most basic level, haven’t we all experienced how we can affect outcomes by how we are thinking and feeling about what we are doing?

      I have found the independent Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto’s body of work to be at the very least worthy of exploring further. Emoto spent many years studying the effects of intent on the formation of water crystals. His body of research depicts photos of water crystals next to the words, prayers and other stimuli they were exposed to while they formed. He has concluded that the energy of human thoughts and emotions have an effect on the molecular structure of water… and that water is a “blueprint for our reality”.

  3. Such a refreshing read as ‘research’ as it is currently understood to be has for me come to feel very dry and boring, quite often completely unrelatable. I love what you share about our experience. We are all researchers if you think about it in our everyday lives. Why did I do that? What worked, what didnt, what will happen if… ?
    If we consciously go about this; having curiosity, exploring, and even documenting aspects of our lives then we are naturally also the scientist and our body and our life, the experiment. Personal experience has to have validity particularly when it comes from the place of lessons learned and wisdom garnered. I love to read that kind of research, I learn something.

  4. I love to read blogs where people have shared their lived experience, because we all are enriched when a lived truth is presented as it offers us a reflection, or an insight that has the potential to shift something in ourselves.

  5. ‘Case studies are basically regarded academically as the ‘bottom of the barrel’ when it comes to research.’ Against the prevailing consciousness that the individual doesn’t matter, that we are to put everyone before ourselves, including our systems, it is clear that a person’s experience is deemed less than the evidence-based model that reserves the right to tell that person what that experience is, based on the science it knows and the evidence it can put into a box. That said, how often do we give our power away to those who say they know better than us, even when it comes to our own bodies and experiences not claiming what we know or what feels true?

    1. One of the reasons is that research typically only looks at a few people and much mathematics is used to get the most useful result out of it. With just a small number of case studies it is normally difficult to see trends. There is simply no experience of anybody presenting hundreds or thousands of case studies and then the bottom of the barrel argument may simply look ridiculous.

  6. I have always found it interesting that personal experience, anecdotes and case studies are not really considered to be true ‘research’. Yet academic research misses out so much of the human story. The research consciousness is huge and it would seem you have to join the club – to produce the results the funder wants. Time for a new model?

  7. As we write on paper less and less, there will be fewer paper records for the future. Computer evidence can be easily deleted, so true evidence of research needs to be logged securely so it doesn’t disappear. We need to keep a record of how we are living today for people in the future to read this.

    1. A very good point Gill. We need to keep good records of the miracles we see occurring with the Universal Medicine modalities. Writing our experiences cannot be left to peoples memories and hearsay many years later – as that can then be bastardised. We know how Chinese whispers can work – even in a room of company present at the time…..

  8. I love how you describe how much you got from taking part in the research Jennifer. We can be very preoccupied in daily tasks so it is easy not to notice things, but when we take some time out to appreciate something, like how we have developed and grown, it does benefit us hugely.

  9. I totally appreciate what you are saying Jen and from my experience also is that I may be shown some statistics and results from research but that doesn’t convince me that this is what is needed. Any changes that I have decided to make for myself have been based on lived experience either from myself or being inspired by someone that has made true lasting change that has resulted in a more vital, joyful and purposeful life.

    1. What you have shared here Natalie is something that needs to be researched. Especially with the exponential rise of chronic diseases caused by our lifestyle choices. What really does support people to make true change in their life?

  10. Originally science was all about people and their observations of the world. There was no control of outcomes in it simply because of the interest and humbleness to understand more about life. It seems to the great deteriment of us all that modern science has lost this natural and open approach

    1. I love what you say about the origins of research being about “all people”. It is certainly not about all people now, even the results are not about all people. So really if it is not for all and it is seen to benefit some and not all, then is it true?

  11. The personal narrative of our lived experience offers true answers to research.
    Since making lifestyle changes and exposing hidden hurts, various symptoms in my body and health have changed beyond measure.

  12. The less we are connected with our body and ourselves the more we will need to have something from outside of ourselves that tells us what we have to do in certain situations. Yes we need education but this doesn’t mean we have also an inmate knowing of how to apply this learned knowledge in situations and this should never be seen as less than education or research.

  13. There is art intimating life and then there are laboratory trials that are held more reliable and valid than case studies capturing lived experience.

  14. The value is huge of one person describing from the connection with their body what they experience.
    We can recognise our own symptoms more easily and find the similarity.

  15. It’s a brilliant blog this that simply exposes the depth of corruption that exists in our society. Easy to see amongst politicians, or in big corporations or any of the other obvious places. But the true evil exists in places like this – where the voice and truth of the individual is shut down and, as you say, our expression is put to the bottom of the barrel.

    1. This blog does indeed expose the corruption that exists and is so supported in society. We enable such depth of corruption most of all by not living truth and integrity in our own lives, and in doing so we turn a blind eye to corruption.

  16. “Why is this the case?” Because you can’t control ‘personal experience research’. The purpose of most research is not to find the truth but to make money (by owning the approved medicine) and thus the system will overtly suppress any voice that may offer an alternate reflection. The supremacy of the pharmaceutical companies is very, very potent.

    1. Great pondering Otto. Control is it… in what is accepted as current research and especially around the hierarchy of what is the most valuable research and what is regarded as less valuable. The truth is just because there may not be research done on something does not make it less important. In the control in the ‘hierarchy of research’ this devalues automatically the value of our personal experience. However we do need to ask ourselves what we have allowed? Certain companies/people may have control but what are we handing over to them?

  17. How important is it to share our personal stories – be it through conversation with others, through writing an article or through expressing through a blog – for all these are mediums to share the changes that we have been empowered to live and hence make a difference in our life. This is a beautiful way of inspiring another anywhere around in the world.

  18. Jen you are asking some very pertinent questions here and what is highlighted is clearly the fact that as our world heads more and more towards a more evidence based approach then the case studies which hold enormous power risk getting lost – this is a huge loss to us as a society, as the evidence based and protocol based approaches (though important in certain areas), are not the whole picture and without those personal touches we will fall into the trap of text book treating when in reality no one fits a text book.

    1. This is very true Henrietta. It’s seeing the value of all research on equal footing, everything has a place – no more or less important than another. Working in healthcare I work with people who have diseases and conditions, not diseases and conditions who happen to be people. Because I work with people, they may have the same disease but everyone’s expression of this is different, because of all of the choices they have lived through the whole of their life. There is no double blind study that could ever tell me this, but in engaging with patients and my colleagues, discussing this we see it as clearly as the noses on our faces. This is research and builds everyone’s understanding of the choices we make through life.

  19. What you say about the power and value of each case study when its full presentation and expression is allowed is so true. Fascinating what each number on a datasheet might have got to say given a chance.

  20. “So, the question I have now is: why is it that we do not value case studies or our personal experiences on an equal footing in terms of research?” Could the answer be that we would then see we do not always need research to know the truth.

    1. One that I would trust over most evidence based medicine – unless that research was done in absolute transparency of who funded it, who carried it out, what was the process, methodology and how was the data interpreted – all of which is extremely variable and complex – thus the power of the simplicity of someone’s lived experience.

  21. “….this personal form of exploration or research is as valuable and important as any other form of research.” Absolutely agree with you here Jen. Personal experience that comes from lived evidence simply cannot be ignored or denied. This type of research really does need to be taken seriously.

    1. Spot on Otto – personal stories and ‘word of mouth’ so to speak carry much power in their capacity to inspire another to follow likewise. And in our world where we are not encouraged to really take ownership and responsibility for our health, when someone does step in and take responsibility and make a change in their life, this is an opportunity to share it far and wide to support all.

  22. First there is our expression showing the way to be healthier and more joyous. Eventually – and it may be a long time – research may pick up on this but it would be normal if such evidence is ignored for a substantial amount of time.

  23. From reading your blog, it has made me see that there is great value of writing, be it a blog or a diary, as this is a form of qualitative data that is a rich source of content for research.. our life is worth researching and investigating as this brings insight, awareness and ultimately evolution.

  24. All that I am today is all based on my experiences in this life but too in former lives as I have learned that life is about re-learning, a regathering of what we have lived before and because of our choice to delve into this life of creation have lost connection with. And actually nothing comes from a textbook from school or any other course I have been to until I met Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine that showed me our true origin and how to claim it back not only for myself but more so to share this by my presence and in my expression.

      1. Yes, like when we were a little child, not yet influenced by the education system in which we were told that we have to learn by the mind we were merely learning by doing and experiencing the result of it. I always like to refer to for instance learning to walk, ride a bike or a car. Once your body understands how to do it you do not have to think about how to do it, it is our bodies that just know and does it because it is embodied.

  25. Case studies do not allow to put someone into a box on in any category, something that the current science loves to do and have there existence based upon. So case studies from that perspective are of the lowest value to them.

    1. It’s such an interesting point this – when I consider my life, the zillions and zillions of choices that I have made, the zillions of movements my body has made and the zillions of foods, drinks, substances or whatever that I have put in my body….there is no other body in the world like mine…it is totally unique…and thus, putting it in a box is always going go crop the full picture.

      1. And by putting the body in any confinement, like in a box, will rob of that natural expression from it. And in the case of the confinement being a box, our movements and expressions will have no other source than this box to source from and will make it all squared angled measured instead of spherical that otherwise would be our source to move and express from.

    2. Case studies and the reflection of another’s personal experience and learning asks us to consider our own choices through life, they ask us to go deeper into ourselves and reflect on why we choose what we do.

      1. We have to go to another level of responsibility, more honest to ourselves, and consider case studies as supplementary to the scientific research we all know is so needed, to also have its foundation in how people are in their daily life.

  26. There is still the pull to make lived experiences “scientifically sound” in some way–which is basically an oxymoron as we have yet to find ways to make living (not the biological piece, but everything else) into a true science–it is all theory and conjecture. So, case studies while fantastically real and descriptive, lack the ability to “prove” anything–and we seldom follow them up with more and more case studies until we reach saturation and can begin to create new theory and new conjecture.

    1. That’s a great point. What makes something scientifically sound and who determines this and then again what is science or what have we reduced science? One of the beauty’s I find in case studies – whether they are documented or not – is the personal exploration, especially when there is no investment or self judgment on what is being observed. There is a wonderment in what is being observed and why we make the choices we do. This is the sad thing about the way science is conducted, because there is no wonderment of observations and the revealing of what is underneath. When we each bring this way of science back to ourselves we return to this sense of wonderment.

  27. Those of us who want more depth and the reflection of the natural variation between people in research hold qualitative research up as the ‘better’ option. Yet if a participant does not feel it has captured what she shared, there is something in the process that loses the power of the personal story that was delivered.

    1. So we can see then how important every aspect of research is from all the styles of what is currently accepted to case studies and the personal experiences of individual people. All need to be valued equally and used depending on what is needed.

  28. The value of expression of our lived experience is gold. If I stand up and share the value in my life, I support others to stand and do the same, and so the word spreads that this experience which has changed so many peoples lives IS of immense value.

    1. This is very beautiful Ariana for it changes completely what we understand of research and its potential and science. Life become the research and the science and everyone is involved.

    2. And thus we are all ‘experts’ and all have a voice – rather than the current situation where that voice is limited to a very, very reduced and calculated few. Super inspiring what you share Ariana.

    3. The important word that you have said here is value. How valuable we are, what we observe and what these observations have meant to us. It matters not what anyone else says or does with this. The important thing is that we hold the value of observations and express them as we choose.

  29. A beautiful expression of the value of true research and our lived experiences in life that says everything and one day will be acknowledged more formally than at present even though we all know it already and always have done.

  30. I was speaking to a scientist a while back and he openly admitted that the outcome of the research he was doing would determine whether he would get further grants and they kind of needed the further grants so what was determining the outcome; the true outcome or the money?

    1. It is so obvious when you have an eye for it, but when you go for the money to get your ideas to materialise we tend to close our eyes for the obvious that is there for us all to see.

    2. So we need to ask who is the research benefiting? From what you have said we can see how outcomes can be set up based on the need for security.

    3. Some research is funded by specific organisations therefore with a vested interest – is that going to produce true results or those which suit the sponsors interests.

  31. Naming what we feel to be true can indeed be a very confirming experience, highlighting that we all have the ability to know truth through our own lived experience.

  32. True research comes from the truth we have lived and experienced and the appreciation of this is yet to be truly acknowledged but with more sharing and accessibility to this it really does offer others the opportunity to
    see and learn for themselves with the reflection and inspiration of others.

  33. Each day could be like a mini-case study… if we take a moment to check-in with how we are feeling, what has happened, why certain things have happened, what caused things to happen the way they did… Observation is the first requirement in research… and this is something that we could utilise well in our every day lives. Observe rather than react…

    1. Absolutely Johanne. The more I observe my choices, what is going on for me without reacting then I am much more likely to honestly ask myself why. At that moment there is a clarity that often drops in and I just know the answer, which then supports to make changes.

  34. These blog site have such a wealth and depth of wisdom, they have supported me no end to look at different pockets of my life. Lived experiences spoken with authority.

  35. A research project usually takes months or even years of preparation and by the time the actual research is done, much of it has been tied down very carefully even in qualitative research and there is little scope for researchers to deal with something unexpected and to pursue it, except in a later project.

    1. That’s an interesting point Christoph. So really research as it is now is a snap shot of something in the past. Something that we could have moved on from already.

  36. It is interesting how the quality you expressed in your interview was not captured in the themes of this qualitative research and yet you have a deep knowing of the innate value of your own self care.

  37. One day, when energetic awareness is equal to if not more than, scientific validation, there will be such a wealth of material that will clearly show what is true and what is not.

  38. Research results seem to depend a lot on who is funding the research. Just this week in the UK there is comment because the Alcohol Aware charity (funded by alcohol companies) is raising awareness with public health departments about alcohol consumption with advice to have a couple of dry days each week. Concern is being raised about the value and the ethics of this form of advertising.

    1. Interesting…of course that is what, if we are still drinking alcohol, we want to hear. We know it’s not good for us to drink alcohol so by seeing a recommendation to cut down our consumption we can agree, whether we comply or not. This also gives us permission to drink alcohol for the other days, in this case 5 out of 7 so we sink back into the comfort of our convenient hiding of the real truth and go on in our now, although possibly provoked, self deception.

    2. We could say then that there is always bias. Something that is often claimed to be eliminated or minimised. But can we really?

  39. Jen I love how you describe your personal observations due to the reflections you get from others as research. It is indeed true research as we are offered a possibility and through exploration we can see if this possibility is true for us or not. We are the scientist, the research project and the science all in one.

    1. Carolien, your comment..”We are the scientist, the research project and the science all in one” is the way of the future in science.

  40. Research is a great tool to present the facts and reality of what’s going on in any industry or area, and as you’ve shared it’s definitely worth exploring to support our work, writing etc.

    1. It certainly is a great tool and acts as a voice of many. If we were all to see ourselves as research projects – experimenting each day with how we live – then there would be a great many case studies to inspire others.

  41. Observation without bias or judgement of what is happening to us or around us can offer great insight into the quality of energy that is flowing through life and us.

  42. As more of us express ourselves more clearly about a subject, writing about our own experiences, these will become a body of evidence that will show how important case studies can be and they will bring a wealth of information to the research world.

    1. Very true Gill. And as practitioners write up case studies these too are evidence. Expression – whether as practitioner or client has a wealth of information that is foolish to ignore in the long run. How many old wives tales were ‘evidence based’? Yet their proof is in the longevity and the fact that so many work. And how pharmaceutical companies are trying to copy the ingredients so they can make money out of what are remedies that nature offers for free….

      1. I love what you say Sue, there have been case studies throughout the eons of people’s lives, not written down as such, but observations from one generation to another. All we need to do is record the changes and experiences that have occurred with someone with a treatment in their own words, and our own observations, and hey presto, we have qualitative evidence.

      2. Even writing up our own personal observation of things that we have come to an understanding of; realised; ways of living that are no longer chosen are very valuable studies into life and how we are living.

      3. Are not clinical trials a reduced aspect of a case study where the research is aiming to capture one aspect of someone’s lived experience? But it is valued more because confounding variables are accounted for and the ‘evidence’ used to claim results and outcomes.

      1. I agree Christoph, we need to record as many case studies as we can throughout our lifetime to leave a true record of evidence of our own life changes, with self care for example, and as practitioners with the modalities we use for it to be read by the generations of the future to know what was really happening in our time.

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