symptom and patterns

Symptoms & Patterns

Here is a useful perspective for highlighting unconscious triggers for symptoms. I have used this perspective hundreds of times in my one-to-one sessions and the people I work with have found the results very helpful and illuminating.
You can use this perspective for any kind of symptoms – mild or severe. 

It starts with frequency.
Are your symptoms intermittent?
Do they come and go?
Begin to look for patterns in the times they occur. 

The next time you get an occurrence of your symptoms track backward through the time leading up to the occurrence, looking for possible causes. 

Ask yourself, 
“What did I do, or what happened, in the hour preceding the arrival of my symptoms?”

Imagine you are writing your observations on a big internal whiteboard. Take note of anything that gives you a little intuitive tug.

When you have examined the previous hour, look through the previous three hours, then the previous six hours, the previous day, then the day before that.

Nothing may appear super significant the first couple of times you do this.  It can feel exasperating but don’t stop.  Just take note of as much as you can.  

Remember it is a white board.  Nothing is set in stone.  Things can be rubbed out as repetitions begin to emerge. 

What you will begin to notice are patterns.

Start by looking at what happened physically. 

“What did I do physically in the hour preceding my symptoms?
Did I lift something heavy?
Did I twist myself in an unusual position suddenly? 
Did I eat something, what was it? 
Was I in a particular environment, strong chemicals, dust, radiation?
Was I around a particular animal?”

Then look through the preceding 3 hours, then 6 hours and so on.

Then look at what happened emotionally.

“How did I feel in the hour preceding my symptoms and why?
Who did I interact with?
Was I engaged in an activity I feel strong emotions about?  
Love it/Hate it.”

Then look through the preceding 3 hours, then 6 hours and so on.

Then look deeper at what was happening below your emotions.

“Was I compromising or ‘giving myself away’?
Was I engaged in an activity that felt ‘soulless’ to me?
Did I have a sense of being ‘lost’ or ‘off track’?”

Then look through the preceding 3 hours, then 6 hours and so on.

Always Look Deeper

If the root cause of your symptoms is in the deeper parts of you, then as that disturbance percolates to the surface it will express itself as an emotional issue and also as a physical symptom.


Let’s say the root cause of all my symptoms is that deep down I know I am powerful but I am living my life as if I am powerless

The conflict between these two core parts of me will percolate up and express itself as an emotional issue.  In this case intense anxiety and panic attacks.

It will continue to percolate up inside me and express itself as a physical symptom too.  In this case severe back pain.

I begin to look for patterns in my symptoms

The first thing I see is that I get back pain every time I bring out the trash.

The root cause is deeper than just the physical symptoms so if I don’t look any deeper than that there is little chance my back pain will stop – regardless of whether I stop taking out the trash or not. 

So I look deeper and I see that I generally bring the trash out at night and I am usually quite anxious when I do.   I see that I also feel intimidated by my neighbor who is fussy about where I leave my trash can and I am anxious I will have a confrontation with him.

Now I am seeing more of the pattern.  I feel anxious and that is followed by the back pain.

If I don’t look any deeper than that, my back pain may ease off a little if I change the time of day I bring out the trash or if I get someone else to do bring out the trash for me.
Eventually, the back pain will return because the root cause is the conflict between the two core parts of me, the one part that knows I am powerful and the other part that feels I am powerless.  That conflict will continue regardless of whether I bring out the trach or not so the back pain and anxiety will continue.

So I look deeper again and see that as well as the anxiety and fear of confrontation there is something else going on.
Something that has been in the background for as long as I can remember.  Something so familiar and personal to me that I never speak of it. 
It is the sense that the way I live my life is not a true expression of who I am.  Somewhere I know I am more powerful than I behave.

Root Cause

Now I am at the heart of the issue and once I see it in one part of my life, I see it everywhere.  

The good news is that the process of seeing it has its own power and change will begin to happen of itself.  

When is enough?
So, how do I know whether I have stopped looking too soon? 
And how do I not drive myself nuts looking for a deeper cause? 
How do I know I have got to the root?


Test it. 

If I think that taking the trash out is causing my back pain, then I stop taking the trash out for a week and see if the back pain stops.  

If it does, Jackpot! High five. Case closed.

If the pain doesn’t go away or returns and I think it is being caused by anxiety then I try bringing the trash out at times of the day that are the least anxiety-inducing for me.

If the pain stops, Jackpot! High five, low five.  Case closed.

If the pain doesn’t stop then I need to look deeper and test the pattern I find.

Sometimes enlisting the help of a friend or loved one can help in examining the patterns.

If you are seeing the patterns clearly but they are not shifting fast enough you can get in touch and we can do some one-to-one work together.



Photo by Dynamic Wang on Unsplash


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