We have pain, a shoulder that won’t move, a thyroid that goes off in a random behaviour, a gut that won’t eat certain foods, periods that make us want to curl into a ball, or we get the flu that gets in the way every time we need to do something that is important to us.
Why me? Why do I have a body that gets sore? Why does it get in the way of my life?
Rest assured, your body is not out to get you, it is protecting you. A random concept? Read on…….
Hiroo Onoda was a Japanese soldier who fought in WWII.
On December 26, 1944, he was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. He was ordered to do all he could to hamper enemy attacks on the island, including destroying the airstrip and the pier at the harbour. Onoda’s orders also stated that under no circumstances was he to surrender or take his own life.
When he landed on the island, Onoda joined forces with a group of Japanese soldiers who had been sent there previously. The officers in the group outranked Onoda and prevented him from carrying out his assignment, which made it easier for United States and Philippine Commonwealth forces to take the island when they landed on February 28, 1945. Within a short time of the landing, all but Onoda and three other soldiers had either died or surrendered. Onoda, who had been promoted to lieutenant, ordered the men to take to the hills.
Onoda continued his campaign as a Japanese holdout, initially living in the mountains with three fellow soldiers. During his stay, Onoda and his companions carried out guerrilla activities and engaged in several shootouts with the police.
One day, they found a leaflet left behind by islanders which read: “The war ended on August 15. Come down from the mountains!” However, they mistrusted the leaflet. They concluded that the leaflet was Allied propaganda, and also believed that they would not have been fired on if the war had indeed been over. Toward the end of 1945, leaflets were dropped by air with a surrender order printed on them from General Tomoyuki Yamashita. They had been in hiding for over a year, and this leaflet was the only evidence they had the war was over. Onoda’s group looked very closely at the leaflet to determine whether it was genuine, and decided it was not.
One of the four, walked away from the others in September 1949 and surrendered to Filipino forces in 1950 after six months on his own. This seemed like a security problem to the others and they became even more careful. In 1952 letters and family pictures were dropped from aircraft urging them to surrender, but the three soldiers concluded that this was a trick. Shimada was shot in the leg during a shoot-out with local fishermen in June 1953, after which Onoda nursed him back to health. On May 7, 1954, Shimada was killed by a shot fired by a search party looking for the men. Kozuka was killed by two shots fired by local police on October 19, 1972, when he and Onoda, as part of their guerrilla activities, were burning rice that had been collected by farmers. Onoda was now alone.
On February 20, 1974, Onoda met a Japanese man, Norio Suzuki, who was traveling around the world, looking for “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order”. Suzuki found Onoda after four days of searching. Onoda described this moment in a 2010 interview: “This hippie boy Suzuki came to the island to listen to the feelings of a Japanese soldier. Suzuki asked me why I would not come out … Onoda and Suzuki became friends, but Onoda still refused to surrender, saying that he was waiting for orders from a superior officer.
Suzuki returned to Japan with photographs of himself and Onoda as proof of their encounter, and the Japanese government located Onoda’s commanding officer, Major Yoshimi Taniguchi, who had since become a bookseller. He dressed in full military clothing and flew to the island where on March 9, 1974, he finally met with Onoda and fulfilled the promise made in 1944, “Whatever happens, we’ll come back for you,”.
Onoda was thus properly relieved of duty, and he surrendered.
Every behaviour has a positive intention.
The Japanese soldier was doing the best he could with the information that he had. He was following orders. For years and years, after the war was finished. 30 years.
His commanding officer showed great compassion and respect in dressing for the part and gently relieving him of his duty – even 30 years later. Enormous gratitude was expressed for a job well done, and now, he could step down.
This story shows that there is positive intention behind everything. Even though the ‘whole’ doesn’t want the ‘part’ to do the job, the intention is positive, it is just that the ‘part’ didn’t know to stop doing the job that it was doing.
And the same goes for your health.
We have a body that is doing the best it can with what it knows and usually using a tactic that worked for the person in the past. Often this ‘behaviour’ is picked up as a child and because it worked for the child, it is carried into the adult life. So the body is trying to protect the person from something using a behaviour. Problem is, it is not very useful anymore, in fact, it is a downright nuisance.
Like the lady who got a full blown flu every time she hosted an event. This baffled the doctor who put it down to a reliably random virus. With coaching she realised that although workshops were very important to her they could leave her exposed to judgement and that was frightening. As a result her body gave her a reason to step down from them. She got so sick that she could barely stand and this would have been an excellent excuse to call the whole thing off, refunding the money and protecting her from judgement which was something she experienced as a child, that had left an imprint on her. Coaching gave her the insight and we used tools and techniques to change her imprint, the beliefs and therefore the behaviours. We thanked her body for doing everything it could to protect her, but, like the Japanese soldier, that wasn’t necessary anymore, and that behaviour was able to stand down, instead able to keep her healthy and energised for the whole event.
Your body is your greatest cheerleader. It is protecting you all the time, however sometimes the level of protection is a bit outdated and needs updating. How about updating the data, rather than suppressing the symptoms.
Always think – what is the positive intention here? It may not feel very positive but to that part of you that is trying to work with ‘old’ data, it thinks it is just the right behaviour/health that you need to protect you.