Emotions and Health

In my book, From Type A to Type Me: How to Stop Doing Life and Start Living It, I share how I found relief to chronic physical issues, by uncovering and rectifying mental and emotional issues. In my early 30’s, I experienced various physical issues from constant pain and tension to low immune functions and digestion issues. I thought I had some undiagnosable illness. What I discovered was the root of the illness did not occur in my body, but in my mind. It was my being in the wrong profession with the wrong goals for life that were the triggers for the physical symptoms I experienced.

During this time, I learned about Louise Hay who wrote the book, You Can Heal Your Life. I found this book to be eye-opening and the companion book, Heal Your Body A-Z, to be a go-to resource. Ms. Hay’s premise is that “What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us. I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives, the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings. The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.” Two notes here.

First, I do not share this to blame or shame you into thinking you are responsible for all the bad in your life. I like to look at the other side of the equation. You have the power to create what you want in your life. If you find that things are not as you desire, make a change in your thinking and your actions to encourage a better result.

Second, the only thing I believe in 100% is that I don’t believe in anything 100%. I have studied and used Ms. Hay’s work for long enough to see a correlation in what she has found and the reality that I see with myself, my family, my friends, and my clients. And that does not mean that everything is the direct result of our thoughts. It may be, but at this point I see a correlation not necessarily a tried and true law. Even so, I see enough correlation in the mind-body connection to give it credit and use it in my own life.

Photo by Luke Braswell on Unsplash

A few years back, after many years of good health, I found myself having issues again. Being human, I first looked to my diet, movement, and age to see if any were at fault. Although probable influencers, I could not see a direct reason for why I felt like I did. Next step, I looked at my life. At the time, I was in a situation which was not positive. I believe we always have three choices when we are in difficult situations: A) We can try to change the situation. B) We can accept the situation. C) We can leave. In this circumstance, I had to choose option B as I had no power to change the situation and at the time, no ability to leave. The result was my poor health.

According to Louise Hay, my physical symptoms related to fear, anger and frustration – which very well described my reaction to the situation. I chose to use the affirmations recommended in the Hay books, take care of my mind, emotions, and body – focusing on them instead of the frustrating situation, and make strategic plans to leave the situation sooner than later. My physical symptoms lessoned under this plan and were removed completely after I was out of the situation.

Have you ever noticed a correlation between your emotions and your body? Have you tried shifting your mindset to resolve physical pain? Share with us here.

Corazonada

For over six months now I have been dedicated to studying Spanish. My ability to read, comprehend and speak has greatly improved. Since, however, I don’t have a natural aptitude, my six-year-old nephew speaks better than me, but heck, at least I’m trying. I do love the language though. It is interesting to explore how different cultures decide how to express themselves and how the way we speak can change how we see and experience the world.

The Spanish language uses a lot of suffixes. Add “-ito” or “-ita” to the end of a world and it means little or dear. For example, the cat or gato that often sneaks into my house becomes a “gatito.” Add “-udo” or “-uda” to the end of the word and it means a lot of. Mi gatito es peludo. Pelo meaning hair becomes peludo meaning hairy or furry (or leaving blankets of white fur in my house when it sneaks into my home).

Another suffix which is used is “-ada.” This suffix can be used to mean the result of use. For example, cuchillo or knife means stab wound when -ada is added, cuchillada. It can also mean a large quantity of, so spoon, cuchara, becomes spoonful, cucharada. It can also mean the act of carrying out a verb. Llamar or to call becomes una llamada or a call, and nevar or to snow becomes nevada or snowfall.  The other day, I saw -ada added to corazón.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Corazón means the heart. When -ada is added to it, “corazonada” literally means the act of heart, full of heart, or to act with heart. The translation of corazonada is a feeling, a hunch, or a sudden impulse to act. Across cultures and languages, we have tied our intuition, our instinctual knowledge to our heart. We are not acting from our knowledge or reason, but acting from a deeper knowledge which comes from the heart.

I love my mind. It helps me write these posts in mostly perfect grammar. It usually helps me with math problems. It can help me reason out different options to a problem. And, more times than I like to admit, my mind can also mislead me. It can keep me up at night playing through again and again what I did wrong, what I could have done differently, or what I prefer to have happened. My mind sometimes thinks it is right and correct, even when the world is pointing to something different. My mind can make me think I am better than or worse than others.

That is why I have been trying to have more balance between my heart and my mind. The HeartMath Institute has been studying and teaching for years the importance of our connection with our hearts. What has been known in the scientific community for some time, is that our heart sends as much if not more information to our brains than the other way around. It is our heart, not our minds which are running the show. In this informative video, the HeartMath Institute outlines how we can regulate our stress and ability to think under stress, by working to smooth our heartrate and help our hearts and minds connect. It is not just the brain or not just the heart, but getting these two to play together which can make a difference in our lives.

When you get angry or anxious, do you feel your heartbeat increase? Have you ever used meditation to calm your heart which in turn helps calm your mind? What are your thoughts on living more corazonada?

F.E.A.R.

Once again, I got pulled into fear. My mother-in-law was going to have surgery. Knowing how some of my friends reacted when they had the same type of surgery, I began to worry. A few family members also expressed their concern. Over time, a few of us were in a full-on fear frenzy. I could feel the fear, worry, and concern mounting in me and others. Unfortunately, at the time I was not able to gain any perspective. After the surgery, when everything turned out fine, I remembered that FEAR is really an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.

False Evidence:  The worry I had before the surgery was all conjecture. Yes, my friends had had struggles with the surgery, but I had no concrete proof that my mother-in-law would have the same issues. My worry was based on false evidence. I took a few small facts and the experiences of others, and my mind began to blow them out of proportion. How often have you taken something out of context and make it into a mental reality? When have you made a mountain out of a mole hill?  Our minds are programmed to look for danger so we can keep ourselves and those we love safe. Unfortunately, our minds often work overtime creating problems where there are not any. In the desire to remain safe, we create stories of what we need to keep ourselves safe even if our fears are not true or inevitable.  

Appearing Real:  I took my thoughts and mental stories as fact. The more I replayed the story in my mind, the more it made me think it was a forgone reality. I created the story. I was the one who replayed it. I was the one through repetition who started to believe my own lies.

Photo by Niklas Hamann on Unsplash

Enough things in this world exist to worry about, we don’t need to create more. Here are a few ways to stay out of the slippery slope of F.E.A.R.:

Just the Facts, Ma’am:  Don’t create false news. Look at the reality of the situation. Look at what you know as a hard, cold fact not what you fear may happen. Stick to the facts and the reality of the situation not your perception or embellishment.

No Instant Replay: The pain of fear happens in us replaying our fears again and again. Something has not happened, yet we are experiencing it again and again and again by our replaying the potentially negative situation in our minds. Stay out of your mind and stick to the reality of this moment.

Address in the Truth: The time to take action is when something actually occurs. Stop acting on “what-ifs.” It is ok to be prepared for the bad, like stocking up on hurricane supplies, but if you barricade yourself in your house before a storm is officially announced, what good does that do?  

What fears are currently plaguing you? Are they true, eminent, real concerns or the story you made up of what could happen? Are you replaying your story again and again until you are terrified? Are you acting on your fear instead of the reality of the moment? 

Good versus Evil

Netflix is now showing “The Story of God” a series by National Geographic starring Morgan Freeman. Each episode covers a different aspect of life and belief sharing the doctrines and viewpoint of differing religions. The show does a nice job of showing each viewpoint objectively without attacking any beliefs nor pitting one religion against another. The show explores the mysteries of life and how each culture defines their answers. A recent episode explored how religions explain why bad exists in the world.

The belief which resonated most with me is that we all have the capability of good and bad in us. Every day we have the choice about who we want to be and how we want to act. In writing a post about narcissism recently, I ran across an article with an interesting analogy drawn from comic book heroes and villains: “The supervillain is not part of the community and cannot take their mask off. They have no true friends, only subordinates or superiors. Both superhero and supervillain gain their powers in response to an extraordinary, often traumatic event. It is their response to the event that determines which way they go.” The article basically hints at the same conclusion I drew. We, each and every one of us, has the capability to be good or bad, it is in our choosing that makes it so.

Photo by W A T A R I on Unsplash

I work with some people who have done very bad things. I don’t consider the individual bad. They just made a bad choice. They thought the best option to protect themselves was to choose something that hurt someone else. What they did is bad. Yet that does not make them inherently bad. I explored this a bit last year in my blog inspired by the movie about Tonya Harding. In understanding her backstory, it makes it easier to understand why she made the poor choices she made. Explains them but does not excuse them.  The question is what helps us choose the right, best actions?

“The Story of God” shared a segment on a researcher in New Zealand who is uncovering how a belief in a higher power helps keep us on the straight and narrow. When left in a room alone, many of the children cheated at a game. When told that the invisible Princess Alicia was in the room, the majority of the children played by the rules. Obviously, the invisible princess was made up, so it was not her powers that made a difference. The experiment was more about how with boundaries and awareness we can tap into our natural conscience and make good decisions.

Whatever the religion, I believe being raised with some guidelines help to give that awareness of good behavior. Even without a religion, parents have the ability to instill right and wrong into the minds of their children. For those I know who are most apt to steal or worse, they were normally raised in a household where the parents were absent, abusive, or simply poor role models. Not to blame the parents, because we also have the ability to either follow our parents lead or rebel against it, which takes me full circle. If you are raised with a clear sense of right and wrong or if you were raised in an environment where adults portrayed poor behavior and ethics, you still have the choice in how you react and how you choose to be.

No matter what you have gone through, you have a choice. A choice in how you view life, view your past, and view your options for the future. Choose wisely.

le boat boating

Loving Life’s Imperfection

Back in the day I had a, thankfully, short-term obsession with Tyra Bank’s America’s Next Top Supermodel contest show. What I loved was how the judges looked at a super-tall, super-thin, super-perfect woman and focused-in on her one flaw. Perhaps it was an oversized mole, a gap in the front of their teeth, or a slightly crooked nose. I know what you are thinking. “How dare these judges focus on the minor flaw of these otherwise amazing specimens of female beauty!” But it is not what you think. The judges did not focus on the flaws to criticize them. They focused on the flaw because it was what made them interesting, unique, and memorable. It was their imperfection which drew our eye to them. It was their imperfection which made them truly beautiful. Over the years I have hung on to this premise to help with my own issues of accepting my body, and over time bit by bit I have accepted the skin I’m in. What I have been noticing lately is how my expectation of the perfection of life is also not achievable, and how the imperfection of life is also the thing that makes life interesting.

Almost 20 years ago, my husband and I had an amazing honeymoon. We visited four European countries in two weeks. What is interesting is when I think of our trip, I don’t remember the amazing meal we had in Grote Markt Brussels Belgium, the five-star hotel we stayed at in London, or touring the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. What first comes to mind is “Brugge Kaput”; two words that both ruined our day and made for the most memorable day of our honeymoon.  My husband and I love boating so part of our honeymoon included a four-day trip on the canals of Holland in our own houseboat. Much of this trip was an adventure like realizing the first river we had to cross was the busy Amstel filled with enormous container ships, learning how to navigate using a guide all in Dutch, and running across unexpected points of interest like the Belgium witch-trial museum.  Out of all of these adventures, the first thing I think of, the first thing that comes to mind about our entire honeymoon is “Brugge Kaput.”

le boat boating
Le Boat boating tours

We were on the last day of our houseboat adventure. We had just spent the last hour floating past idyllic farm fields and came into the last town and the last bridge before getting back to where we rented the boat. We had planned to spend a quiet evening anchored in the large lake nearby then returning the boat the next day. Throughout the journey we had come across bridges and locks, learning to honk our horn to alert the attendant then pay a few guilders for the attendant to let us through. We came up to the final bridge, honked, and waited. And waited. And honked again. And waited. This went on for quite some time before the grumpy old attendant showed up and talked on and on in Dutch. (side note: all the guidebooks we bought said that English is common in Holland. It is not. English is common in Amsterdam but not in the small towns we were visiting.) The words we caught were “brugge” which we had learned meant “bridge” and “kaput” which I learned from my German father which meant “broken.” The bridge was broken.

We finally understood that the bridge was down but should be working the next day. We went into this tiny, tiny town to find a phone to ask the boat rental company what to do. Option 1 was to go back the three days we had just traveled. Option 2 was to wait it out. We decided to wait it out, but not to stay in this town which seemed to consist of a broken bridge and a small store with the phone we used. Although we were tired from traveling, we decided to sail back the hour or so, past the now monotonous farm fields, to the larger town we had seen on the map. What a great choice!  The town had an actual marina and included in the small fee was the use of bicycles. We road into town, explored the shops, almost got hit by a bus, and had an amazing day. The next day, we once again motored past the same really-boring-now farm fields we had passed twice before. Out of everything we saw and experienced on our trip, I wouldn’t change this adventure for anything.

Next time you are having a bad day, next time your best laid plans are ruined, breathe. Find the beauty in what is happening versus what you wanted to happen. Look for the silver lining and be in the moment to enjoy the wonder of what will unfold.

journal

Dishonest Thinking

Lately I have been digging into the concept of “dishonest thinking.” Dishonest thinking is the playlist of thoughts that we cycle through daily and think are true, but are not. Dishonest thinking is the mental monkey chatter which says we are not good enough. Dishonest thinking is judging others based on our own assumptions, beliefs and desires for conduct. Dishonest thinking holds us back with limiting beliefs of who we are and what we can accomplish. Dishonest thinking is the computer program of our brain running in the background keeping us from living fully and enjoying life.

Maybe we are born with some of this programming. Perhaps it is in our ancestral DNA making us relive the thoughts of scarcity our grandparents had during the Great Depression. Perhaps we incorporate the dishonest thinking of our parents when we learn to navigate through their well-meaning guidance. Our dishonest thinking can also be the result of a traumatic event changing the way we see people or life. Where these dishonest thoughts come from is not as important as identifying and replacing them with more beneficial thinking.

journal
Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Journaling is a great way to expose our thinking. When you are triggered, fill up the page with your version of the event. Don’t hold back. Don’t sugar coat it. Let your inner child throw a tantrum. Scream and yell on the page. Take the gloves off and let us know how you really feel. Pour out your assumptions and expectations. Explain how the other person or the situation are not acceptable. Then walk away.

Come back after an hour, a day, or a week. Read what you wrote. Then read between the lines. What rules of life do you live by? What expectations for you have for yourself or others? What fears do you have? How do you see relationships and how people should relate to each other? Be an anthropologist and dig deep into the underlying beliefs. Let go of the specific incident and identify the rules of life you live by. If this is difficult, ask a coach, counselor, or trusted friend to help you.

Next look at what you uncovered. How do you see life and how to live it? What, if anything, is serving you? What is based in reality? What expectations do you have which never have the possibility of coming through? How is what you wrote holding you back and making you unhappy?

Finally, take your dishonest thoughts and make them honest. Change “I am worthless if I am not perfect,” to “I am imperfect and that’s ok” or “My worth is inherent.” Reverse all of your dishonest thoughts to be honest, helpful, positive statements. Read these new honest beliefs daily so you can begin to create new positive grooves in your brain. Watch yourself throughout the day. Catch and release any dishonest thoughts that come to the surface. Watch how your new honest thinking begins to change your actions, your reactions, and your experience of life. You have the power to create a new amazing life, one new thought at a time.