A symptom functions as a natural warning sign, similar to the gauges and lights on a car, indicating that there is something wrong or something that is requiring our attention (Rossman, 2000). Symptoms can present themselves physically or emotionally. Rossman (2000) describes the work of Leslie LeCron and seven common unconscious reasons for the development of symptoms. These reasons include symbolic physical expressions of feelings, unconscious acceptance of ideas from early in life, trauma experiences that were highly emotional, the symptom may offer benefits or solve a problem, unconscious identification with someone important in your life, a manifestation of inner conflict, or an unconscious need for self-punishment. Whatever the reason, or variety of reasons, the symptom serves as a conscious manifestation of something seeking our awareness and a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder of our need for self-care and helps to draw our attention from the external to the internal and focus on our own well-being.
There are many benefits to listening to our symptoms, including physical and emotional healing. By shifting our focus to our innermost selves, listening to our symptoms and asking for what our body needs, we can begin to heal. By listening to the symptoms we can begin to have a greater understanding of our selves and the deep unconscious needs that we are trying to meet. Putting aside any diagnosis and finding the personal meaning of the symptoms helps us to develop a deeper connection with ourselves and to heal deep rooted pain or suffering. Even from an early age I can remember being taught to listen to my body, while I didn’t always understand what that meant, this lesson in listening to our symptoms brings greater meaning to that simple phrase. Listening to my symptoms allows me the opportunity to pause, be present, and truly hear what it is my body needs from me.