I was shopping last week with my son and he found a must have helicopter toy. I said no.  He then proclaimed (loudly) that his leg hurt. The reason – because I was being mean to him. This has become his new tactic to get his way, or get out of trouble, or to divert from whatever conversation he wants out of.

The experience has got me thinking about our use of illness. I’ve done it: called in sick to get out of work, used the mystery virus to get an extension on an overdue paper, or had back pain that couldn’t allow for helping move that friend of a friend of a friend for free.

Illness and injury are like get out of life free cards. Excuses most everyone accepts without much question. But is this really adotpton of a sick role or is that just playing around?

The trouble I think occurs when the belief shifts, either about ourself or other’s belief about us. When we’re actually seen as sick, the interactions change.

We treat ourselves different when we adopt a sick role. We give up to some degree. We feel like we are less than others. This affects the next choices we make and the next interactions. We step back little by little from life. It’s slow and it’s subtle but eventually all that is left that defines us is our sickness.

Calling in sick or having a leg hurt because we don’t get what we want isn’t a belief in our being sick. Even being out a week with the flu isn’t a belief about being sick. It isn’t an adopted role. We still see ourselves as healthy in those circumstances.

But a lifetime of being told were different, sensitive, weak – you have this condition or disease – takes a toll on our perception of who we are. We start letting people know about our illnesses sooner and sooner in new interactions. As a last ditch effort at self preservation be begin to identify with the label. It is the most constant part of ourself.

But the kicker is that we aren’t constant or consistent or steady. We are always changing and new. Karma in a truer sense is that we are inter-acting and intra-acting all the time and are never the same from one moment to the next. Physics defines it as every action having and equal reaction.

We aren’t really even sick or healthy. But some flux in between, or maybe we are both at the same time. Either way the role of being sick is just that, a role the ego (self) adopts. For me I have adopted the role before because of fear – of failure, not measuring up, engaging with people, life. But courage is better than fear even if the results aren’t so predictable.

What does your sick role do for you? What would it be like if you sloughed it off for an hour, a day, a week? How about the rest of your life?

Thanks as always,

With civility ~ Brian

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