When Emotions get Physical: The Effect of our Thoughts on our Bodies

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“The cells in your body react to everything that your mind says. Negativity brings down your immune system.” Anonymous quotes like this are all over Facebook, we like them, but do we really understand how these negative thoughts affect our bodies? Every emotion, thought and belief, whether helpful or harmful, gets stored in our bodies. All harmful emotions, at their core, can be categorized as either criticism (also known as hatred), resentment (also known as anger), guilt, or fear. Each specific emotion has a matching body part, and each body part represents a unique and specific aspect of our life. For example, the right side of our bodies represents our masculine side or the giving side. If Joe has anger and resentment towards his father, there will be pain or dis-ease on the right side of his body. More specifically, if Joe feels overwhelmed caring for his ill and grumpy father, he will have physical pain on the right side of his neck and the right shoulder.

The longer the harmful emotion goes unresolved, the more severe the physical aliment. If we are aware of how our bodies feel at any given moment, we can sense when something is wrong immediately and can reverse or correct the culprit behavior or thought. Disease occurs when the issue is allowed to continue for many years. Since everyone is unique, the severity and amount of time it takes for an unhealthy thought to manifest into a disease will vary. An example of an unhealthy belief that is ongoing yet easily resolved is Kim’s story. As a child, Kim never felt like her parents paid enough attention to her. When she started going to school, she felt as if her teachers did not notice her. In her teenage years, she could not find a boyfriend. Kim’s ongoing feelings of rejection lead to chronic nosebleeds. Once she began to love herself and feel that the attention she was getting was enough, the nosebleeds subsided, as if they never happened. An example of how an unhealthy thought that goes unresolved can lead to a disease is Bethany’s story. As a young person she never embraced her femininity, she was adamant about not having children, she avoided bonding with children, she was constantly frustrated with her menstrual cycles and she subconsciously believed that her feminine qualities were a curse. In the young adult years, she experience troublesome periods. As time went on and those harmful beliefs continued, she developed several large uterine fibroids which worsened her periods. Once she began to embrace her inner-woman, feel more feminine, began to enjoy being a woman and began to truly experience the love a child, her fibroids began to shrink and her menstrual issues slowly eased up.

As mentioned previously, each body part represents a unique aspect of life. As in Kim’s case, she experienced nosebleeds since the nose represents self-recognition, which is what she lacked. In Bethany’s story, the uterus is the ultimate symbol of femininity and thus the most logical place for disease to manifest when a woman’s femininity is challenged. Oftentimes, old sayings hold relevance in the location of our issues. In the case of Joe’s shoulder pain, he was “carrying the weight of the world” with his caregiver role. His father was also grumpy, therefore his father was “a pain in the neck.” Some examples of obvious coordinating ailments and physical locations include the eyes representing the ability to see clearly, the ears representing emotional hearing, the blood representing joy flowing freely and the legs representing carrying us forward in life.1

Not all physical ailments or diseases that we endure are caused by emotional dysfunction. However, it is a common belief that we create ALL of the illnesses in our bodies and in our lives. Some conditions are lifestyle related, for example the quality of our food intake, the amount of exercise we get, our sexual habits and our use of drugs (illegal, over-the-counter, and prescription), alcohol and tobacco. We have a choice on the types of food and substances we put into our bodies, the amount of exercise we participate in and the type of sexual activity we participate in, therefore we create our own health status. Some diseases are karmic, meaning we did not completely resolve an issue in a past-life so it has manifested as a disease in this life. The healing of these issues happen simultaneously with the healing of our everyday thought patterns. The last cause of physical disease is accidents. According to Louise L. Hay, “Accidents are no accident.” We have the emotional distress that attracts accidents to us, such as anger, built-up frustration, rebellion against authority, guilt, and attention or sympathy seeking.2 We may also have a lesson to learn from the experience, that could include compassion for self and others, being content with our current situation or trusting life’s process. Our thoughts are powerful tools that can either hurt us or heal us. Being consciously aware of our self-talk and beliefs, striving for the most authentically positive and loving perception of our circumstances and always communicating from a place of love, joy and respect will bring us a life of peace and good health.

“Watch your thoughts, they become your words watch your words, they become your actions watch your actions, they become your habits watch your habits, they become your character watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” -Lao Tzu

1 Heal Your Body A- Z by Louise L Hay

2 You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

By Beverly Bates

Originally published Sept 2013, updated Feb 2021

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