Updated: Mar 25
*Disclaimer: Although Casey Potetz is a medical practitioner, nothing stated in this article should be taken as direct medical advice.
You might be doing all the right things for your health.
You might be on the right regimen of pharmaceuticals and supplements.
You might be eliminating the right food triggers, eating the right things, and drinking enough water.
Maybe you’re even lucky enough to find the right practitioners, working to better your health.
But, still, you suffer from flare-ups.
You live with pain and can’t seem to make the progress you were hoping for.
I’ve dedicated my life to the study of profound healing. As an acupuncturist, herbalist, and Chinese Medicine Practitioner, I’ve successfully treated people with all kinds of disorders.
What can I say about my experience with patients who have overcome long-standing health conditions?
That even when all the right treatments are being implemented, there are a number of underlying factors that can prevent the body from healing itself.
In Chinese Medicine, there is no magic pill or remedy to fix a problem. To treat successfully, the body must be restored to a state of balance. Once this is achieved, therapies implemented can take their effect.
My wonderful teacher used to say that first, you must correct the energy, then you can administer prescription. This is because if the body isn’t ready to accept healing, the medicine (or therapy) won’t take effect.
To correct the energy, we look at everything going on in a patient’s life. I have found, in my experience, that there are five major factors causing energy imbalances.
The five foundational factors I have found to inhibit profound healing are:
#1) Attachment to Diagnosis
A diagnosis doesn’t define you, and neither do your test results.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the science of health that we forget we are miraculous creatures.
Inexplainable healing happens every single day. I see it first hand. Don’t let anyone make you believe you are exempt from achieving this yourself.
When you receive a diagnosis, that does not mean it belongs to you. It is only existing at the same time.
Remember that a diagnosis is something separate than yourself.
Try saying ‘the back pain’ instead of ‘my back pain’.
Why? Because by changing your ownership of the condition with language, you are training your brain to make a distinction between yourself and the condition.
Once the brain believes the two are separate, it can change the body to act that way. This is a concept behind Quantum Healing and Subconscious Visualization Technique.
Don’t let a diagnosis, or a blood pressure reading, or cholesterol level, define you.
You are a miraculous creature, perhaps who is coexisting with a condition, but not attached to it.
To detach from a diagnosis, I suggest starting with the language you use to define it, and then move into visualization practices separating yourself from the ailment.
#2.) Long-standing Emotional Imbalance
In Chinese Medicine Theory, long-standing emotional imbalance is a major underlying cause for disease and disorders.
I believe unresolved trauma belongs in this category, as well.
The five major emotional imbalances leading to dis-ease are:
Reading through this list, can you determine which emotional imbalance you have a tendency toward?
Let’s break it down and discuss how to balance these.
Fear. Long standing fear causes adrenal exhaustion and depletion of the water element. Practices to deal with fear have to do with developing courage.
A fearful person should practice doing things outside of their comfort zone or practice taking a risk. This will strengthen the willpower and replenish the original energy (yuan qi) stored in the kidneys.
Worry. Long standing worry causes digestive imbalance and weakening of the earth element. This can show up in so many ways, from digestive disorders to allergies and fatigue.
The way to balance worry is to practice knowing and trust.
If you worry something bad will happen, practice trusting your intuition, trust in nature, the universe, in god. Trust in yourself to be able to deal with whatever obstacles you face.
Anger. Long standing anger will cause energy to get stagnant or stuck. This might show up as liver conditions, temporal headache, tendency to one-sided body pain, especially in the shoulders, neck, and upper back.
An angry person usually has a lot of action to take, because the energy is associated with growth, plans, and taking action. When we have unfulfilled plans, we tend toward frustration, which grows into anger.
When we are particularly angry with a person, it’s usually because we are avoiding being angry with ourselves for not expressing or taking the action we need.
Although we can temporarily remedy anger with creative expression, release, and movement, the actual way to balance anger is to practice kindness.
Because kindness balances anger, someone who tends toward irritability should practice acts of kindness. Feed your liver happiness and do something kind that makes you feel good.
Grief. Long-standing grief effects the lung and metal element. This could show up as asthma, skin conditions, and large intestine issues, as well.
Either long-term grief and sadness, or unexpressed grief, is referred to here. Unreleased trauma, when something feels like it’s lost, often leads to grief.
To balance this emotion, we need to fill our emptiness with what makes us feel whole. This is the practice of wholeness or fulfillment. Grief comes from a feeling of loss. Perhaps it comes from the loss of a person, a relationship, or an opportunity. If you can identify the qualities that you feel you’ve lost, and blossom them within yourself, you can release feelings of grief and become whole.
If it is a person you’ve lost and you have long-standing grief as a result, try to honor them by identifying the wonderful qualities you miss and acquire them yourself.
Overjoy. Long-standing emotional overjoy is an imbalance effecting the heart and fire element. Signs of this are wild passion, inappropriate laughter, mania and depression, and tendency to cross personal boundaries.
Overjoy is balanced by contentment. The Tao Te Ching has many beautiful proverbs on the practice of contentment. “Remain at the center, and observe all things around you.”
Practicing calm and contentment when you have the inclination of passion and overjoy will strengthen the heart and prevent depletion of the fire element.
#3.) Blocked Energy
In meridian theory, there are channels of energy that run all throughout the body. When these channels become blocked, dis-ease is a result.
So how does energy become blocked? We talked about emotional imbalance, but there are physical and energetic blockages as well.
Not fulfilling your souls purpose, or not being on the correct life path, will lead to blocked energy.
Doing the same physical movements every day, when they effect you ergonomically or functionally, will lead to blocked energy.
Every single thing you do, from the moment you wake up, to the conversations you have, and the food you eat, effect the flow of your energy.
Personally, what do you think is blocking your energy?
#4.) Personal Pressure
We naturally become introspective when we have to deal with a chronic condition. Many of us hit the ground running and do everything possible to escape the discomfort.
Sometimes, especially with a chronic condition, there is so much pressure to escape the pain, that it creates even more inflammation and an energetic imbalance contributing to the condition.
Coping mechanisms and acceptance are necessary to deal with long-standing conditions.
Learning to just be is called ‘Wu Wei’ in Taoism. It means the action of non-action. Just allowing things to take their course.
In my line of work, I often ask myself, ‘if everything happens for a reason, why do we have chronic pain?’ I’m always coming up with ways to answer this. Maybe we need pain to force us to connect and ask for help. Maybe suffering is here to show us something about ourselves, or force us to make a major change in our lives. I don’t have the answers for you, but I think taking a break from trying to escape the pain, implementing comfort and coping therapies, and taking the time to ask yourself this question is a valuable practice.
#5.) An Incomplete Treatment Plan
One of the most common mistakes I see patients make is that they leave their treatment plan completely up to their doctor.
Yes, your doctors are responsible for outlining a treatment plan for your medical care, but what about the other twenty-three hours you have left in the day?
An effective treatment plan includes nutrition, trigger elimination, pharmaceuticals (when needed and prescribes by your doctor), therapies, self-care therapies, preventative therapies, coping mechanisms, movement, behavioral health, and the list goes on.
I often see patients who take medicine and see a specialist for routine check ups, maybe they are following a dietary plan, and that’s about it. They put their fate completely in the hands of someone else.
This is THE WRONG way to deal with a chronic illness, in my opinion.
I advise my patients to use their medical treatment plan as a starting point and add on pieces to optimize their healing journey. Everyone is different, so everyone’s treatment plan is going to be different.
If you were to make a list of the things your treatment plan includes right now, what would be in it? In addition to your medical treatments, what are you doing to care for yourself? Do you have therapies in place for the times you have to deal with a flare up? Does your treatment plan address energy blockages and emotional support? Can you identify what is missing from your treatment plan after reading this article?
I hope you got some take-aways from reading this. I’d love to hear what your opinions and experiences are when it comes to the things holding you back from self-healing. I have a passion for helping people transition out of pain, but every individual is unique and has their own way of healing, so I do not claim to know everything when it comes to this topic.
Thank you for reading and I hope to connect with you inside the Facebook group
Casey Potetz, MSOM LAc. is a Chinese Medicine Practitioner on a mission to help people transition out of chronic pain. She practices acupuncture and herbal medicine in New Canaan, CT, and offers remote guidance programs to people suffering from chronic pain and inflammation.
Sign-up for Casey's Email List