Our minds can make us well. I know it sounds hokey, but it’s true and we’ve all experienced it. Say you’ve been working hard on a project, lots of problems getting it done, lots of stress and angst, time pressure, uncooperative co-workers but now it’s done, finally. You don’t feel happy, you feel tired, cranky, resentful. A boss comes up to you and lets you know that you’ve done a really good job, acknowledges all of your work and compliments the results. All of a sudden you feel much better, you have more energy, you’re less inclined to want to injure your co-workers, and life is looking much better.
What has happened here? Your mind has started producing different brain chemicals, neuropeptides, and you are now feeling better. If you had your blood drawn it would probably show a decrease in the amount of stress producing chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. Your heart rate will have decreased. Even your ability to digest food will have improved.
Most of us are quite good at using our minds to make us sick, even if we don’t realize it. Emotions actually get stuck in the body. Patients often ask me if what they are experiencing is physical or emotional, my reply is that there isn’t a difference. There really isn’t a point where our physical self begins and ends and our emotional self starts. They are integrated aspects of us and can’t really be separated.
It is important to be aware of where our thoughts take us. Focusing on our ailments, pain, angst does not improve the situation. It actually makes it far worse. Often people will refer to a part of their body that is hurting them as their “bad ____”. This sends a message that further aggravates that part and actually can inhibit its ability to heal. Referring to that hand, foot, etc as the one that is healing, currently in need of more attention is a better frame of reference. I’m not saying to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, but rather to be aware of the thoughts that deter from getting better.