We can transplant organs, vaccinate against viruses, prevent aggressive cancer cells from multiplying or set a pacemaker: Medicine has made impressive advances. And yet around 331,000 people die each year from cardiovascular diseases, 231,000 from cancer and 67,000 from diseases of the respiratory system.
According to Gerald Hüther, this is essentially due to the fact that we treat ourselves carelessly. In his new book “Lovelessness Makes Sick” he puts forward the thesis that even the best and most expensive health system cannot heal us if we constantly prevent our inner self-healing powers from doing their job properly – by being loveless to ourselves.
That is why it is not only external influences that make us sick. “A lot of people get sick because they consider what makes them sick to be something that should make them happy,” says Hüther. As an example, the neurobiologist cites a young woman who is very committed to her job. Although her back has been noticeable for a few days, in the evening she still sits bent over her project – and that’s more everyday life than an exception. “If the back is broken at some point, the orthopedic surgeon should fix it,” says Hüther.
Inner signals are ignored
Constraints like these are excesses of today’s competitive society: everyone wants to be the best, to be successful, to please others. The result: loveless behavior towards yourself and others. Instead of listening to internal signals, we mostly ignore what would be good for our body. “That leads to a totally unhealthy lifestyle,” says Hüther.
Now one may wonder how this thesis fits into a time of global pandemic like the one we are in right now. Because even the strongest immune system does not offer guaranteed protection against some pathogens. With regard to the so-called diseases of civilization as well as chronic and mental illnesses, one gets quite a long way with this approach.
However, aggressive viral diseases are also favored by people’s living conditions. According to Hüther, the plague in the Middle Ages was transmitted by rat fleas, but in reality it was a result of the extremely unsanitary living conditions that prevailed at the time. “The residents of these cities simply didn’t care to keep their homes free of vermin,” says the neurobiologist. “Because something else was more important to them.”
Life as it corresponds to our nature
But how do we manage to be more loving with ourselves? A basic human need is to freely shape life. “We carry the longing for freedom within us from the start,” says Hüther. Instead of living out this freedom, we try to be how others want us to be. If you manage to free yourself from these constraints, according to the neurobiologist, you suddenly have many options to treat yourself more lovingly.
For this we have to live according to our nature. That means: we nourish ourselves with what our cells need. We move in the fresh air. The nerve cells in our brain sometimes have time to take breaks. On the other hand, lack of sleep and hectic rush do not correspond to our nature. “And not too much mess in the brain either,” says Hüther.
Specifically, this means listening to yourself and thinking about what could really be good for you at that moment. An example is not having lunch at your desk in front of your laptop. But outside in the sun – and if possible with colleagues. “You can continue like this step by step,” says Hüther.
Even an inmate can be loving to himself
In his opinion, external circumstances only play a limited role. “We’re not doing ourselves any good by constantly being angry about what doesn’t work,” says the brain researcher. Even an inmate, despite the obvious limitations in his life, is still able to treat himself lovingly as long as he still feels himself. The situation is similar with the corona pandemic. Everyone can think about whether they have to watch the 100 talk show about the virus – or whether the television is off.
According to Hüther, anyone who has managed to become their own creator of their life can suffer themselves better – and thus be more loving to their fellow human beings. “You are no longer in need who have to use others to satisfy your urge to be recognized or to be recognized,” says the brain researcher. And that is a very wonderful situation.