No Will To Heal

Though seldom, I encounter clients who just don’t seem to improve at all. After weeks, months or even years of sessions. Why? It’s a question I’ve pondered many, many times! So in this post, I’ll finally share my thoughts.

What I mention below is based on my observations and knowledge of personality parts. I do accept that I might have gaps in my knowledge, so if anything doesn’t fit in with your understanding, please feel free to reject it. At the same time, I hope I may be able to offer a perspective that can help you or someone you know handle this!

What it is

No Will To Heal is a lack of desire to heal and grow, improve your situation and be content with yourself (from Dr. Bradley Nelson’s Body Code. It also has a cousin: No Will To Change). It’s not a character trait, but a state of being.

It isn’t obvious at first, but after a while it begins to show. You improve slightly, only to fall back to where you started and stay there. Or the symptoms get worse, or snowball into an endless list of problems. This is when I suspect you might be overtaken by No Will To Heal. We try to work through it but if it’s too strong, you stop having sessions… It’s disheartening for me to witness.

Why does this happen

Well, working on big issues stirs up deep stuff. In doing so, dormant inner saboteurs (see Shirzad Chamine) wake up and become active because they feel threatened. They don’t like having the status quo disrupted. So they set off a chain reaction of emotions, thinking patterns and behaviors such as the below:

  • Strong emotions such as fear, terror, doubt, anger, frustration, taken for granted, indecisiveness, abandonment, betrayal, hopelessness.
  • Thinking patterns such as pessimism, passivity, paralysis, victim mentality, negativity.
  • Behaviors such as avoiding, evading, stonewalling, stubbornness, escaping, denying, giving up, aggression, criticizing, blaming.

The cumulative effect of the above is a No Will To Heal state. Most people don’t think this is due to saboteurs. Instead, you and others around you think this is who you are and resign you to your fate. Sadly, this misconception can go on for years.

Rimi Yoshida - 10 saboteurs

The biggest problem about saboteurs

One of the most problematic things I think saboteurs do is activate something called secondary gain. Secondary gain is a psychological benefit to staying unwell. What could that look like?

  • Maybe you receive a lot of care and attention from others because you’re unwell. So you don’t want to lose that by becoming better.
  • Maybe your identity has formed around being unwell for a very long time. So you fear losing that identity because all that would be left is nothing.
  • Perhaps the thought of taking responsibility for yourself is too scary. So you place the responsibility for your improvement on others/external circumstances/the system instead.

According to the saboteurs’ logic, all these beliefs and choices are good because they keep you safe from loss, hurt, failure, disappointment and the uncertain future.

Problem is, saboteurs only look out for short term benefits. You might be safe for now, but at what cost? In the long run, you’re blocked from developing a healthy self acceptance, knowing of your true worth and a life that’s rich with meaningful connection. Is this what you really want?

How to deal with inner saboteurs

I believe it’s very beneficial and important to understand that you aren’t one with the saboteurs, but separate. When you begin to see that the dysfunctional No will to heal state you’re in is due to saboteurs, not because of who you intrinsically are, you can make room for healing and change.

Now, for some honest truth. Putting the saboteurs in their place does take time and patience. While there are many practitioners and coaches who can support you in this process, you’ll still need to summon your inner strength to stay the course. Because the saboteurs will put up a fight and make it very difficult to talk them down! This is most the challenging part of dealing with saboteurs. The good news is, the more you shine a light on them and see them for what they are, the less they have a hold over you.

Some tips to help you

Here are some simple questions you can ask yourself to find out if it’s you or the saboteurs talking:

Rimi Yoshida - questions

If the answer to any of the questions is yes, that’s a clear sign the saboteurs are out in full force! But don’t despair yet. Because the first step to separating from them is to become aware of their existence.

As a rule of thumb, all negative, harmful, critical, oppressive and limiting self talk is due to saboteurs. The same goes for when you say the same to others.

It does take some practice, but the more you can notice what they’re saying when they’re saying it, the less saboteurs can push you around.

What happens when you disconnect from saboteurs

As you disconnect from the saboteurs, you reconnect with your true self. Which is NOT those thoughts, feelings and behaviors mentioned previously!

Before you assume you have no clue what your true self looks like, sit in a quiet space and try to connect with the voice inside of you who is compassionate, moderate and wise. It’s there, just give it time.

This voice is your higher self (or your inner sage, per Shirzad Chamine). You might not have been able to hear it up to now, because the saboteurs were so loud. But if you’ve managed to quiet the saboteurs, you may find it easier to hear your higher self.

As you newly explore yourself with the help of your higher self, you might make some fun discoveries! Such as what you’re good at, what you like, what people recognize you for, what suits you, what’s comfortable for you, what you want to do, what you want to accomplish, and so on.

Here are some traits that might grow stronger as you become better at disconnecting from your saboteurs and talking with your higher self:

Rimi Yoshida - positive traits

1) Tolerance: Your self talk is mostly accepting, encouraging and positive. You also treat others the same.
2) Grit: You seek long term gains, not short term ones. So you’re more willing to face uncomfortable situations and stick them out.
3) Growth mindset: You still face challenges and failures, but you try to look at them as teaching moments rather than judgements of your character or abilities.
4) Resilience: Thanks to the above mindset, you’re able to recover from bad events without creating new baggage. You don’t reawaken any saboteurs, activate any secondary gains or No Will To Heal.


No Will To Heal is a lack of desire to heal and grow. It isn’t a trait, but a state – which means it’s changeable. To change this state however, you need to be willing to face your inner saboteurs. They (not you) are the ones perpetuating the No Will To Heal state by activating secondary gains – the psychological benefits to staying unwell.

It does require courage, strength, time and patience to talk them down, but it can be done. There are some simple rules of thumb to help you get started: check your self talk and your secondary gains. As you disconnect from the saboteurs, you begin to reconnect with your true self, using the help of your higher self. You may begin to embody traits like tolerance, grit, growth mindset and resilience. When you can identify these traits in yourself, you know for sure that you’ve successfully eliminated No Will To Heal.

Thank you for reading this far! I hope it was helpful in understanding what No Will To Heal is and how to handle it.

If you’re currently in this state and would like to explore how to get out of it, I’m happy to offer a complimentary call to discuss this.  Please feel free to reach out to me here.