Self-Care & Lifestyle Blog Post

The “Benefits” of Illness

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Do you use illness as a way to get what you want? Or maybe as a way to get out of an uncomfortable or unbearable situation.  

Being sick can be a bit of respite but it can also be a trap.  In this blog you’ll understand how to identify the needs being met through illness and find ways of meeting those needs without being or staying ill. 

“Illness can be an opportunity to achieve emotional growth.”  – Carl Simonton, MD 

Today’s society and culture does not pay much attention to people’s feelings or what their true needs are.  These are usually ignored or overlooked.

Oftentimes we’re taught to look outside ourselves to get our needs met. We have lost touch with that internal guidance system that tells us what we’re in need of. 

As a result of unmet needs, physical illness and manifestation in the body can result.  

Disease can end up fulfilling an important role or purpose by providing a way for someone to get their needs met who has not found a conscious way of doing so or doesn’t know how. 

Illness can serve as a “permission giver” in people’s lives by allowing people to engage in behavior they may not engage in if they’re “well.”   

Think for a moment about some of the things people get when they are sick.  Increased love, attention, lessened demands, responsibility, increased time away from work etc… 

When you’re sick, that might be the *only* time for you to drop everything and care for yourself without feeling guilty or justifying yourself. 

Or maybe you only experience attention and love by being sick, you may also have a stake in staying sick. 

So how do you find what your needs are? 

  • Grab a piece of paper and pen. 
  • List the five most important benefits you received from a major illness you have had or are currently experiencing in your life. (You may find out there’s more than five).  

Typically there’s five major areas where people most frequently benefit from their illness. 

  1. Gives them permission to stop dealing with a troubling problem or situation. 
  2. Provides attention, care, love or nurturing from others around them – maybe family, friends or co-workers.
  3. An opportunity to regain their psychological energy to deal with a problem or gain a new perspective. 
  4. Gain an incentive for personal growth or for modifying habits that aren’t serving them. 
  5. A release from having to meet high expectations put on by themselves or others. 

I recently journaled on this and found it interesting to see where I was benefiting from being ill.  Here’s what I came up with: 

  • Letting go of things that were consuming massive amounts of energy  
  • Reducing my responsibilities

Now, I encourage you to do the same.  What benefits do you receive from being ill or sick? 

Consider what needs are met by your illness.  Maybe it’s a relief of stress, an opportunity to renew your energy or receive love and attention. 

Once you’ve done this, give yourself some time to identify what rules or beliefs limit you from meeting each others needs when you are well. 

Sometimes, we hold beliefs that keep us from giving ourselves what we need.  What are those beliefs? 

For example, maybe when you’re sick you receive a lot of love and attention from your significant other.  When you’re not ill, you can simply ask for affection by saying, “I’d really love a hug right now.”  

As you begin to become aware of your inner beliefs and rules, you’re able to identify when they’re “ruling” your health so you can then use that as a place to see alternative ways of dealing or seeing a situation. 

These insights and lessons we’ve gained from this exercise help you to get clarity on your true health needs and gives you permission to take action to meet those needs, allowing you to take your wellness and power back. 

After you’ve done this exercise, please share your comments, thoughts and insights below.  

Know this… if you can “benefit” in illness, you can certainly benefit in wellness. It’s in your control. 

P.S. Share this with a friend, family member or colleague who needs to hear this today.