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Our bodies are similar to the Universe and its ubiquitous galaxies. The body is its own system, a network of atoms, electrons, and processes that are in constant interaction with each other. The same holds true for our immune and nervous systems.
The nervous system, which includes our thoughts and emotions, impacts our physical health. At the same time, the immune system works hard to keep us physically healthy. So, when we experience emotional and psychological turmoil, our bodies experience physical mayhem. A recent study from the University of Harvard found that our thoughts influence the development of chronic illnesses. You may have heard of cases when someone falls ill, or develops diabetes, after periods of prolonged stress.
Based on this, it would be fair to say that thinking positively does make us physically healthier. Doing so, however, is harder than it seems.
Many people struggle to control their thoughts and emotions. They also do not recognize the true nature of these thoughts and emotions. I’ve had many clients who, once I point out their inherent sense of guilt and fear, exclaim, “That’s impossible! I am the most positive person I know!”
My mother, a famous physician in Russia, and I have discussed this topic many times. This, combined with my experience as a psychologist, has helped me understand that it’s usually best to go backward, spot the symptoms, and then seek their roots deep in the psyche.
To help you reflect on your psyche, I’ve crafted a list of emotions and their physical manifestations:
- Anger and Rage. Such emotions stand at the root of high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems, migraines, chronic headaches, and strokes.
- Stress and Fear. Because, when stressed, our bodies release adrenaline, people who are stressed and afraid tend to have insomnia, heart palpitations, and heart attacks.
- Sadness. As one of the most common emotions we experience, sadness manifests itself in physical symptoms such as digestive conditions, appetite changes, and a weakened immune system, which leads us to get sick more often.
- Lack of love, self-love, and self-acceptance, as well as the feeling of not being good enough. These emotions usually materialize in the form of skin problems, such as acne and eczema, as well as other physical conditions, including anorexia and anemia.
- Grief. Those who mourn the loss of others usually experience breathing problems, including shortness of breath, asthma, and lung cancer. It is not a coincidence that losing a loved one makes us “suffocate” in grief.
- Guilt. If you live with the feeling of guilt for prolonged periods of time, you will probably begin to experience back pain. You will quite literally feel the weight of the guilt you carry.
I know that many of you will relate to at least one of these physical conditions. Recognize the symptoms and dig out their roots, just so you can cope with the difficult emotions that are impairing your physical well-being.
Psychologist, family therapist, author
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