Our emotions play a major role in our health. Emotions don’t just happen in our head. They impact our whole body. Even our everyday language echoes this fact. How often do you hear someone say something like “I have a strong gut feeling,” or “That took my breath away,” or “It felt like my heart stopped,” or “He is always bellyaching about something.” Our language is full of examples of how we associate emotional stress with certain parts of our body.
Often when we experience strong emotions, we also experience pain or discomfort in other parts of the body – usually in an organ or body system that has a predisposed weakness. According to Dr. Jean-Pierre Barral, “Not only do organs react to emotions, but an organ’s reaction can determine a behavioral pattern.” Everyone has an area where their emotional stress manifests itself. For some, strong emotional stress might affect the stomach or the breathing. For another it might be in the heart or even on the skin. Emotion always expresses itself somewhere in the body.
One medical dictionary defines emotion as: “intense or painful psychological reaction that powerfully affects other organs.” Knowing this relationship between emotions and physical health helps us to understand that pain, weakness or even illnesses may be a direct product of our emotions. The brain records bodily pain and the emotions experienced with it at the same time. The two are permanently stored deep in our unconscious mind.
The brain will often deal with a negative emotional message by “discharging” it to one or more areas of the body. For example, a person who has just experienced a romantic break up might also experience stomach pain. The emotional pain of the break up and the physical pain of the stomach become linked and stored in the unconscious part of the brain. Then as the person thinks about the break up, the stomach pain flairs. As time moves on, new experiences of stomach pain can trigger psychological discomfort – which may not even be consciously associated with the breakup. By treating and removing the stomach pain, and hopefully keeping it from returning, the link between the stomach pain and the break up is weakened or broken. This allows the person to focus on any necessary emotional healing without the distraction of the stomach discomfort.
This series of blog posts is intended to help you better understand what happens in each major body organ/system when emotional stress is directed there. For example, when emotional stress is directed to a person’s lungs and breathing, certain psychological behaviors are often evident. “Lung” people more often lack self-confidence, are fearful of confrontation, and may have a higher need for affection or reassurance. Sometimes physical pain and illness can be resolved when the emotional drivers behind it are identified and addressed. Interestingly, it is also sometimes possible to heal the emotional problem by treating the physical symptoms through visceral manipulation – that is through focused, healing touch!
The bottom line is that emotions and the systems that make up the physical body are linked and always impact each other. Understanding how emotions are linked to and impact specific organs will be the focus of the next several posts.
To your health!