Sobering Wake-Up Call

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His admission rocked me—and served as a personal warning.

HomeSomeone I respect a lot for his spiritual and practical insights, Dr. Mark Virkler, revealed last week that he had had a heart attack. He thought it would never happen to him because he taught and lived out (so he thought) how to be emotionally, spiritually and physically healthy.

Yet he had a heart attack and ended up with bypass surgery.

I admired that he publicly admitted it. It took great humility and love to put aside his own reputation in order to help other people learn what might be causing problems down the road, unbeknownst to them—just as it did for him. He is writing about what he discovered about the contributing factors to heart attacks. It’s a wealth of information!

Even though Dr. Virkler did more good things for his health than I do (and I do a lot), he still had a major heart attack. He wrote, “Clinical studies have found that from 40 to 50 percent of the time, the first recognized symptom of heart disease is a fatal heart attack. It is the number one killer of people between the ages of thirty-five and sixty.

Yikes!

Dr. Virkler’s research led him to the conclusion that stress was the trigger for his heart attack.

He wrote, “I believe the cause of my heart attack was stress, emotional and spiritual. I loved what I was doing and was going overboard with it. Plus God had given me some directions about curtailing some of these activities, and I was bargaining with Him about stretching those rules. Then, heart attack.”

That really hit me. I too love what I’m doing. I love working with clients, helping them heal their heart issues. I love writing these blogs and emails. But I think I too go overboard. (Part of being Highly Sensitive is this “depth of processing” thing. I sometimes don’t know when to stop, especially if I’m enjoying what I’m doing.)

I have felt God has been telling me for years to get more sleep—specifically, to go to bed earlier. I too have been bargaining with him about stretching the rules. “God, I don’t know what to cut out.”

Well, God was not bothered by that. He has been showing me in any number of ways, through books, articles, podcasts, warnings like this from other people who have not taken time to rest—you name it. I can’t fault him for not trying to get through to me! It’s actually become quite comical. “God, what are you going to show me today?” Seems he never tires of trying to get me to see what he wants me to see.

I feel he’s boiling it down to two things.

One: Get to bed earlier (I have noticed that I feel quite a bit better if I’m asleep by 11pm—which has rarely happened in the past few years).

And two: Quit creating my own stress.

That last thing was a revelation. One day on my walk, a thought intruded that I did not expect.

“You create a lot of your own stress,

you know.”

Ouch!

The inner voice held no judgment. It was merely an observation.

I tend to believe it was God’s Spirit speaking to my spirit, because after reading about Mark Virkler’s heart attack, I had been praying about what unconscious stress might be causing certain physical symptoms to come back—symptoms I thought I had conquered. I believe it’s because I am healing at a deeper level as new insights have been uncovered about growing up with Childhood Emotional Neglect, and being Highly Sensitive. In that process, physical symptoms have come up—symptoms my testing indicates have everything to do with stress. (More on testing here.)

Just as that voice was nonjudgmental, so my own approach to seeing how I create my own stress can be led by curiosity, without any self-condemnation. It will be an experiment: see if I can catch myself creating stress. I may ask a few close friends for feedback. I will certainly continue to pray about it. I’m approaching it with curiosity and eagerness, and a willingness to change. (I have a great tool to change harmful actions and wrong beliefs. Can you guess what it is?)

Are there ways that you, too, create your own stress? Or is there something that still, small voice has been whispering for you to change, but you’ve been ignoring it or bargaining with it?

I don’t mean to be overly dramatic, but listening to that voice could possibly be a life or death matter. It was in Mark Virkler’s case.

Mark is making changes in his life. He writes, “I must learn to live more relaxed, taking more time to express the different kinds of energy available to me–not just mental energy, but energy from my heart (love) toward my wife and those I touch, and spiritual energizing as I play my autoharp and sing in worship unto the Lord.

My change will be to NOT go back to the computer after supper, no matter how urgent the matter seems, and take the evening to relax, do my evening ritual of stretching exercises, Halo, talking to my husband and reading.

And to notice the ways I’m creating my own stress.

What will your change be?

If you would like some outside help with managing your stress, I’m available for coaching at HealingCodesCoaching.com.

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