It is difficult at times to look at emotions and say, “What are emotions and how do they work?” Well you could look at emotions like energy in motion. Twirling and swirling around. You see, our emotions are energy and they are always in motion. We all know that our bodies are made up of molecules, and of course molecules are made up of atoms and yes atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons and they all twirl around each other in a wonderful dance. We may look solid but the truth is our bodies are just like all matter which means, we are energy moving at different rates resulting in something that we see and call solid. The fact is however, we are not solid. The molecular substance of our bodies is actually quite subject to thought and emotion.
Emotions operate on various stages. They have a physical aspect, a psychological aspect and a spiritual aspect. Emotions bridge thoughts, feelings, and actions are there to let us know how things are going in our lives. When our emotions are positive and free flowing, (meaning allowing emotions to be felt and expressed with out resistance) then it raises the movement within the cells of our bodies and the cellular aspect of the body more fluid and freely flowing. When our emotions are negative, the cells in our body slow down and create a vacuum for illness and disease.
With all that in mind, let’s ask the question, does emotions cause or worsen illness? Of course you know the answer, and that is yes, but I think we need to recognize that it’s not so much the emotion itself that causes illness but what we do with the emotion, or in many cases, what we don’t do with the emotions.
You see in American culture we carry a great deal of judgment and resistance to emotions and we normally call them good or bad. Happiness and joy is good, anger, fear and sadness is bad. We fail to look at these emotions are natural and normal. We are taught as small children to avoid certain emotions, to deny they are there, or cover them over with material things or things to do. We are taught at a young age, distractions.
But the truth is, distraction is not immune to our physical self and because we avoid these emotions, we then begin to internalize. Once we internalize them, we have stored these emotions and if not released, they create issues. I call this if there is an issue it is in the tissue.
It is said that 95% of all illness has an emotional component. In fact, science has now established that when you are in a state of distress and disharmony, your cells produce toxic chemicals that tend to deteriorate and degenerate the body.
Now I am not saying that hereditary or environmental factors don’t contribute to certain conditions or ailments, however, the emotional history and patterns of behavior over time does play very strong role with a person’s physical condition.
You see we need to understand that emotions are the very foundation on which we build our existence. Emotions not only inspire us, they truly can limit us as well. When emotions are repressed or we distract ourselves from our emotions, the body’s natural defenses become confused and disrupted which then creates a sort of physical internal chaos. So releasing certain negative emotions can cause a shift in your energy freeing up energy blocks in your system. However, if you do not release the emotions, then illness can occur.
I am reminded of a forty-six year old female who was a grief counselor. She had lost her mother to cancer and she was unable to process her emotions because she felt she had to be strong for her clients as well as for her family. She was aware that emotions affected your physical body as much as your body affects your feelings and thinking. However, rather than looking at it, she wrapped herself in her work and chose not to apply this to herself. She soon became angry and bitter about the loss. She began to start having physical symptoms that brought her to the doctors. After several tests, the doctor concluded that this woman was a diabetic.
She was unable to find the sweetness in life because she could not deal with her emotions around her mothers death and the circumstances that surrounded it, thus it manifested in her pancreas. (by the way her mother died from pancreatic cancer) The pancreas does represent the sweetness of life and unresolved issues surrounding bitterness often manifest with diabetes.
When a person has stress or disharmony even unresolved grief, they express negative emotions that literally create toxic chemicals in the cells of the body. This causes the body to be in a state of degeneration and stagnation. Once the body is in this state, it become susceptible to attract viruses, harmful bacteria, and long term disease such as diabetes, heart problems and yes even cancer.
You see, when you are stressed out or perhaps you carry negative emotions such as anger, resentment, disliking and impatience. These emotions cause you to tense up and this tensing up can cause our biological processes to be impaired. So things such as transporting nutrients, hormone production, elimination, digestion, cell regeneration and rain function can become disrupted leading to a gradual deterioration in your whole system.
Another good example of how unexpressed emotions can create illness or disease is the story of a woman in her forties had a tumor in her right breast. She had a twenty-five year old son living with her and a very needy husband. She worked everyday and came home and took care of her husband and son. No one helped her with the household chores and both men in her life were extremely needy. She began to harbor resentment and anger but never told them how she was feeling. She went to see a holistic healer who had told her that the men in her life were emotionally breast feeding from her to get nourishment and she was not nourishing herself. She was told she would need to assert herself. She began to assert herself with her husband and son and stopped nursing them so much. Within months she went for another mammogram. The results had shown that there was no tumor-not even a trace. Problems with breasts can often mean that the person is not nourishing or nurturing themselves.
The mind and body are closely connected and one affects the other in ways that can either can harm or heal. The body responds to the way we think, act and feel. The emotional, neurological, and immune systems are all wired together. So when habits such as not taking care of yourself or negative and unresolved thoughts and feelings come up but remain unaddressed, a hormonal response is induced and an uncomfortable state of "dis-ease" begins.
In fact, when emotional health is unattended one may experience all sorts of physical complaints such as back or chest pain, extreme fatigue, insomnia, palpitations, sweating, weight gain or loss. The complaints however can become disease such as heart attack, strokes, and cancer. This is because emotions are rooted in deep C wiring, and can have a negative effect to the internal chemical environment. AKA, if there’s an issue it’s in the tissue. So you see our thought patterns and belief systems effect the health of our body.
Keep in mind that your mind may repress painful emotions and memories, but the body remembers it all, and it always tells the truth! It is called cellular memory and basically what this means is that though the emotion or memory isn’t part of our consciousness, past experiences or memories are stored in the body and have a powerful effect on how you behave and how you feel about yourself. If one brings these unconscious feelings and memories into awareness, one stands a great chance of healing and preventing not only physical illness but emotional health such as depression and anxiety.
Be careful with what you say and think as well. Statements like “It just worried me sick” or “It ate through me like a cancer” and “It broke my heart” are expressions we use that hint at the mind/body connection. Have you ever wondered if there really is any basis for these sayings? Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is telling us yes, our emotions can affect our immune system causing illness. PNI by definition is a multidisciplinary field, involving psychologists, neuroscientists and immunologists. This field looks at the scientific data on the interaction of the nervous and immune systems as well as the impact of behavior and psychological functioning. In short, PNI is based on we are what we think.
Human beings are the only creatures on earth that can change their biology by what they think or feel and according to research, exposure to stressful life experiences has been associated with changes in the immune system. In addition, experts have noticed that illness has many positive rewards. Ever notice when someone becomes sick they receive cards, flowers and gifts? Often people who are ill will gain praises from family and loved ones. In fact, sickness gives us permission to do things that we would not do otherwise. It makes it easier to say no to unwelcome people, burdens, and job demands in our lives. Being sick or not feeling good allows us to take time to rest, stay in bed, reflect, and gives us permission to relax. It also gives us permission to be loved because we attain a great amount of emotional support when we are sick.
By attempting to stay healthy, learning to give yourself permission to take time out for yourself, and building up your immune system, people have a head start in preventing illness and disease. So as you can see the mind and the body are clearly connected and what we think affects how we feel and how we feel effects health.