Like the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz I sought an expert to provide me with what I already held.

Over a decade in corporate America led this Type A into physical distress. I was fatigued and irritable. My muscles were tight and painful. My digestion and reproductive systems were broken causing intense issues and discomfort.

I was a wreck.

Visiting doctor after doctor I was told there was nothing wrong. No illness. No disease. Prescriptions of all sorts were recommended – none of them really worked. After more than three years, I was frustrated, tired, and desperate.
Turning to alternative practices like acupuncture, Reiki, and hypnotherapy I would experience temporary relief during the treatment, but nothing would last. Like Western medicine, these practitioners could not tell me what was wrong. They had no answers as to why I was feeling like I did.

In desperation, I headed to Peru to work with a shaman.
A friend told me of a shaman or local healer who had cured a man of cancer. “If he could do that,” I thought, “he can certainly cure me.” My experience in Peru was amazing and I left there pain and symptom free. But then I returned to the States.

As I collected my luggage, proceeded through customs, navigated the airport, and worried about making my connecting flight, one by one the symptoms came back. I realized it might have taken a month of cleansing, two shaman, and ten magical days in Peru to make me feel better.

But I was more powerful than that.

I could make all the pain and issues return in mere moments. It was then that I realized I was the one causing my pain. I was allowing the stress of obligation, to-do’s, and worries affect my body and my life. And most importantly, I was the one who was responsible and capable of making positive changes in my life.

With this new knowledge, I strove to change my life. I became aware of how my thoughts, beliefs, actions, and reactions where causing my stress. I actively adjusted any beliefs or actions which were causing more pain than pleasure.

When I did feel stress, I noticed what I used to soothe the pain and more importantly if this salve actually worked. The result was cutting out go-to foods like caffeine and pizza which promised emotional comfort but actually created physical pain.

I explored what I thought had to be important versus what was truly important in life. No one ever says on their deathbed that they wished they would have worked more. What we truly value and want to experience is connection with others, love, creativity, peace, excitement, and joy. I began filling my life with the experiences that invigorated rather than depleted me.

As I went through my days, I noted individuals who upset or irritated me. Through deep exploration I determined I was causing myself pain by wanting them to be different than they were. Once I could accept who they truly were, I was then empowered to determine how best to react to them keeping myself safe and centered.

In the same way, I also took the journey to accepting myself. Filled with forty years of disappointments and self-loathing, I reconnected to the little girl inside who deserves love and acceptance just the way she is.
Powerfully I then began making changes to my life. Removing those things which did not serve me and bringing in what I needed to make my heart sing.

Now today I am healthier than I have ever been. I will not lie to you and say every day is perfect, but I have learned how to make each and every day be the best it can be. I have a daily routine that keeps me centered to weather any storm. I catch myself when I look for unhealthy solutions to mounting stress. And most importantly, I have learned how to truly live my life.

Author's Bio: 

Melissa Heisler is the author of From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop “Doing” Life and Start Living It. After ten years managing and directing theatrical productions and seventeen years in corporate marketing, the stress of high-pressure, deadline-driven jobs led to her own ill health, mentally and physically. This started her search for a long-lasting means of approaching each situation with ease, contentment, and power. She developed her system for managing stress and has been leading a more peaceful life ever since. In her coaching, Melissa uses this system again and again to guide professionals to live better. She has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication.