Marylene Smeets
6 min readMay 11, 2021

Listening to one’s wonderful inner guide

3 ways I learned to do this to heal from a serious disease

The day I received my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, 15 April 2003, felt like my own private 9/11. From that day on, I thought, I would be vulnerable to MS attacks. Over the years — after much grief, fear and anger — MS came to feel like a gift. (Though a merciless one…) I credit MS with having taught me to listen to my inner guide. Doing this has helped me heal from MS. It has even helped me to feel better than before my diagnosis. I hope the below will be of use to many who are trying to heal from disease. And for others who are trying to improve the quality of their life.

The first few years after my MS diagnosis, I had a serious case of that neurological disease. On hot and humid days I could not walk for more than a few blocks. With some statistics saying that one third of MS patients end up in a wheelchair, I was scared. But I have been free from symptoms since 2005. On so-called oven days, I now play tennis. Moreover, I am confident I will remain free from symptoms. It seems my neurologist shares my confidence. During my last yearly check-up, she told me I only need to come back once every two years.

MS is an unpredictable disease. So you could credit luck for how well I am doing. But even if I were just fortunate, I am thankful that MS has taught me to listen to my inner guide. Thanks to it, I am a healthier and happier person than before my diagnosis. Here are three ways in which I learned to listen to it.

1) I see physical complaints as possible guidance from my inner guide

Anxiety, among others, had long given me the idea I should see a psychotherapist. When I had received my MS diagnosis, I felt the time had come to carry out that idea. I found a psychotherapist who was right up my alley.

She was a strong believer in the mind-body connection. In her opinion, my disease could reflect something in my mind. She noted that with MS, the autoimmune system does not protect the body, but attacks it. She thought this might possibly be a reflection of me being hard on myself.

I did not see how my therapist could have a point: I was convinced I was gentle with myself. Until the end of a session, when I wrote the wrong amount on the check for her. I exclaimed: “Oh, I’m so stupid!” My therapist gave me a look that seemed to say: “I rest my case.”

In therapy, I discovered the reasons why I had grown so hard on myself. And I learned to be much gentler with myself. I no longer exclaim that “I’m so stupid” — even when I have made a much bigger mistake than writing the wrong amount on a check.

I believe that with MS, my inner guide was alerting me to something of which I had not been aware. My inner guide was like a real friend: it told me the truth, no matter how hard that was.

Since that realization, I have read several books about the mind-body connection. I have come to think that in many cases, there might be a connection between diseases and mental patterns. I would like to underline “in many cases”. Of course, diseases may have all kinds of causes.

I consider You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay a helpful book of reference. Its list of physical ailments and the mental patterns that might be related to them often resonates with me. For instance, when I had a lower-backache, I read that Hay relates such pain to financial concerns. As soon as I had resolved to address my financial issue, the backache disappeared.

Whichever physical complaint I now have, I see it as a possible indication from my inner guide that I need to address something in my mind. This helps me to look at physical complaints with curiosity instead of fear. It helps me to grow.

2) I interpret my dreams as messages from my inner guide

Soon after my MS diagnosis, I had a dream that made me wake up with a pounding heart. The dream featured four animals: a scorpion, a snake, a mollusk and a rooster. I killed the first three animals with a stick. Then, the rooster crowed. With my therapist, I figured out that the scorpion stood for me cutting things (and people!) off too quickly. The snake stood for me second-guessing myself all the time. The mollusk, for me considering myself weak. And the rooster — we concluded it might well stand for a new day.

That dream, I am convinced, formed my inner guide’s instructions for healing.

In therapy, I have explored the tendencies that the first three animals seemed to represent: where they came from, how I could overcome them. It is a work in progress, overcoming them. But as far as I am concerned, the new day has indeed come. I am much more tolerant, joyful and convinced of my own strength than I was before my diagnosis.

That dream came without me asking for it. But my second therapist taught me to request guidance from my dreams by writing down a question before going to sleep. I have often received helpful answers from them. Answers that gave me new insights, answers that comforted me… For example, when I found myself in a stressful situation at work, I asked why this was happening to me. The dream that followed featured a friend who had helped me get out of a precarious situation. So I felt assured that help was on the way. Sure enough, before long, a new colleague joined my team who greatly relieved my work load.

The way in which I explain my dreams is to jot down what I remember as soon as I wake up. And to then note about everyone and everything in my dream the first association that comes to my mind.

Not always do my dreams make sense to me. And sometimes they just seem to underline what I already knew. But often, I find them revealing. Those messages of my inner guide steer my life, lighten it up and make it more beautiful.

3) I listen to my gut — literally! — for answers from my inner guide

For a while, I needed to gain weight. (There were times I dreamt of having that problem! I believe that my body was sending me a message with the missing pounds, too: old mental patterns were eating at me.) I would weigh myself every day, hoping I had gained a pound or two. During one massage, I mentioned to my masseuse that this practice of weighing myself every day perhaps put a lot of stress on my body. The moment I had finished that sentence, my gut gurgled. “I think my body agrees,” I said to my masseuse. She nodded.

Since that day, I interpret the sound of my gut gurgling as a “yes”. I ask my gut questions — from whether I should follow a dietary guideline to whether I should book a vacation. If within a few minutes, there is a gurgle, the answer is, “yes”. And I go by that answer. I have learned: ignore my gut at my own risk.

Eighteen years after my MS diagnosis, I feel much lighter in body and mind than I did before “my own private 9/11”. Now, the date of my diagnosis seems more like a baptism of my inner guide. On that day, it got the name MS. (My initials!) My inner guide makes me feel incredibly well accompanied. It rocks. And I know your inner guides rock, too.

At, you can register to be notified when the English version of my Dutch-language memoir on holistic healing, Merciless Gift — Opened in New York, is released. On my website, you can also find references to several books on the mind-body connection, among other resources.

Marylene Smeets

Wrote a memoir on how I healed from a serious disease in an innovative holistic way while on leave from my job at UNHQ. For more information: