About cancer cells and entropy
From the moment that I heard about the tumour in my head, it sounded like cancer in my mind and I started looking at myself, at my body in a different way. The idea of cancer gave me systemic eyes, as I started looking at my body as a system. The primary purpose of the body-mind is to keep our physical being alive. It regulates the internal functioning of the body, keeps everything in balance and helps us to deal with external threats. I know it sounds funny, but from the moment I was diagnosed ill, I felt more than ever before the happy owner of an amazing system called body that was protecting me.
The body is a living system, where all the organs know exactly what to do to serve the body. No internal competition between stomach, liver and intestines. No ego feelings in this inner eco-system. In contrary, because of the harmonious connection, collaboration and contribution, the body can lead a healthy life. Every organ consists of cells, who know exactly what to do to contribute to the organ, so that the organ can contribute to the body. The body-mind works subconsciously, because we are not aware of the millions of decisions that cells and organs make every day to keep our body alive and healthy.
In the center of each cell are the genes. They contain the information that keeps you functioning as a single living organism. At some point the genes may become disturbed and the cell might lose its reason for existance, its purpose in life. That cell stops supporting the system as a whole. In contrary, it becomes selfish and starts taking energy from the organ for itself. These cells lose their natural cycle of birth, growth, division, death. That’s what cells do to serve the organ they are living for. If a cell forgets to die and keeps on dividing, not for the benefit of the organ, but for its own, than it becomes a cancer cell. In medical terms cancer is described as uncontrolled cellular growth.
Luckily we have an immune system, a precious network of cells and tissues to protect our body. The immune system has marker cells: they identify what is good in our body. If cells are not functioning as they should (contributing to the organ in their natural cycle), other immune cells take action to eliminate. Individual cancer cells can be eliminated. But the more they get activated and start connecting and clustering, the harder it becomes for the immune system. Cancer cells create together a swelling and become a tumour. At that moment the immune system gets into alarm, because they know it becomes hard to cope with what they regard as the enemy.
If cancer cells keep on growing and keep on taking energy out of the organ for themselves, they become an undermining entity within the organ and a threat for that organ. If the organ starts malfunctioning because of the tumour, there’s the risk of affecting other organs and in the end affecting the whole body. Without intervention from outside, the body risks to die, whereby also the cancerous tumour will die. Uncontrolled growth and pure self-interest, that is what cancer does and that is obviously not viable and 100% destructive.
From the moment I thought that I had cancer in my head, I saw everywhere around me cancers: in organisations and schools, in communities and families: people who where not giving energy to the group they belonged to and were working for. In contrary, they were only focused on self-interest and took energy out of the group for themselves. They didn’t contribute to the bigger unity they belonged to, and the more they got activated and started connecting with likeminded self-interested individuals, the more they became a threat for the group they belonged to, and in the end a possible threat for the bigger organisation or community.
As healthy cells in organs, healthy people in organisations are giving energy for the common good. Their self-expression, connection and collaboration becomes a contribution to the common good. As cancer cells in organs, frustrated and fear-based people in organisations are taking energy for self-interest. Their selfish expression, separation and clustering becomes a destruction of the common good and thus becomes a self destruction. Toxic energy, cultural entropy and corporate cancer are all descriptions that cause dysfunctional behaviour.
Inside became a mirror of outside. Through the idea of cancer in myself, I discovered cancer everywhere around me and in the big world. It looks like the same as when you buy a new car of an unknown brand. From the moment that you have your car, you suddenly see that brand of car everywhere in the street. As I am a why-person, I wanted to know why: Why does a cell in an organ becomes a cancer cell? Why does a person in a culture become cancerous and toxic? Without loosing in medical details, I would refer to the book ‘My cancer is me’ of Vijay & Nilima Bhat for the first question. My CTT work (Cultural Transformation Tools) with Barrett Values Centre (www.valuescentre.com) is very inspiring for the second question.
Cancer is not a single disease. The process of uncontrolled cellular growth can manifest in more than 200 different ways, according to Robert Buckman. You can compare it with infections. They also manifest in different ways and some infections are more dangerous than others. Different infections ask for a different treatment. An infection is caused by a local invasion of an organism in the body, with expansion by multiplication, often with the risk of contagion. Infections can be breeding grounds for cancer cells.
I read in ‘My cancer is me’ that at the physical level, there are two factors that give rise to cancer: tendencies and triggers. Tendencies refer to origin and DNA, hereditary or genetic factors. Triggers can arise from the environment, a lifestyle or a virus. Often there is not just one cause for cancer. This is called a multifactorial approach. It is helpful to look at the bigger story, not just focus on the physical aspect. Healing to wholeness means also taking into account: the psychological part, the social dimension and the spiritual aspect.
Corporate cancer and cultural entropy refers to the degree of disorder and dysfunction in a system, always caused by ego-driven, fear-based motivations of individuals. These ‘cancer-people’ lose all sense of common good and are mainly focused on self-interest. The more they get activated and clustered, the more they become a threat for their team and departement (organ), and even for the whole organisation (body). The medical description for cancer also applies for corporate cancer: uncontrolled selfish growth.
What we see in organisations is that very often the cultural entropy is a reflection of the personal entropy of the actual leaders or inherited from previous leaders. All personal fear-based energy creates separation and is destructive. It mainly refers to the limiting beliefs caused by unmet needs experienced in our childhood and teenage years. Deep down in our system live fear-based beliefs as cancer germs about not having enough safety and security, about not being loved and respected enough and about not being recognised and acknowledged enough.
I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH of what I need to survive. If this is your belief, you feel the world as an unsafe place and other people can’t be trusted. This can lead you to want to control and manipulate your environment, so that you can get what you want. Or you operate with excessive caution and become risk-averse, to make sure what you already have does not get taken away. The healing and transformation work on this level is letting go of fears so that your ego-mind can feel safe and secure.
I’M NOT LOVED ENOUGH to feel safe or I am not lovable enough. If this belief makes you feel separated from others, you might constantly seeking for affection and doing things to be liked. This desire can lead to dishonesty and blame. Jealousy is also a danger and pitfall. Healing and transformation on this level starts with self-acceptance and self-love (love means: no judgment, do you remember?). The more your ego-mind can feel loved and accepted with a sens of belonging, the more you can focus on common good through connection, in balance with a healthy love-based focus on self-interest.
I’M NOT GOOD ENOUGH to feel secure or I’m not important enough. If you grew up with the belief that you are not good enough, you will always feel driven to prove your self-worth. You may become a workoholic. You might end up with a feeling that recognition will always escape you, no matter how hard you try. Your desire for success becomes a walk to the horizon. Healing and transformation work will help you letting go your status or power seeking. You’ll feel a sens of self-pride without depending on the reaction of others and there is no reason to feel inferior.
These three fear-based beliefs create separation and disconnection with our inner core. Remember the cells with the genes in the centre. When the genes are disturbed, the cell starts doing its own thing insted of supporting the organ and becomes cancer. Parallel to the genes, we all have an inner core of innate wisdom that connects us with humanity. We can experience it as being part of something much greater. When we loose touch with this inner wisdom, we become selfish cells, out of touch with the needs of society as a whole, living at the expense of each other. Peter Russell talks about this in his visionary video ‘The Global Brain’ (1983).
Can you imagine a culture of an organisation where people (leaders included) work with a sense of security, with the feeling that others can be trusted, with a sense of belonging because of feeling loved and accepted, with a sense of self-worth and pride? A culture of love-based connection, without fear-based separation, with a healthy focus on self-interest, in alignment with the common good? Who wouldn’t like to work in such an organisation? Who wouldn’t like to lead such a company?
I feel so blessed and privileged that I can work now with individuals, leaders and teams with focus on personal and cultural transformation. It is holding space for healing and wholeness by growing from fear to freedom, from frustration to fulfilment. I see myself as a bridge builder, bridging the gap between current and desired culture, between reality and potential. I’ll tell you more about Richard Barrett and the values work later, because I realise that you’re waiting for the caterpillar and the butterfly. We’re almost there.
I recently read an interesting report about how a shortage of oxygen in tumour cells contributes to the growth of cancer. An improved oxygen supply to tumours makes cancer cells less susceptible to growth and provides opportunities for new cancer drugs. Thinking of corporate cancer, I wonder what kind of oxygen treatment might be helpful to cure cultures from cancer. With O2 in mind, I start thinking of all kind of values words with O: Observation, Ownership, Optimism, Openness, Oneness, Opportunity. Not sure how to add Obediency to this list…
As part of my healing process seven years ago, I did a guided visualisation meditation. First I saw my tumour in the spotlight, as a masterpiece of an exhibition. Suddenly a little monkey jumped off my shoulder, came running and grabbed the tumour. Next I was sitting in the back of an open car, with next to me the little monkey and my tumour. I couldn’t see who was driving the car, but it felt like I had to be the driver of my own car. This experience gave a new focus in my healing process: how to move from the back seat to the front seat? How to become the driver of my own live. The song ‘Driver’s seat’ of Sniff ’n The Tears continued to echo in my head.