Can your emotions make you sick?
When someone we know is unwell, we ask “how are you feeling?”. As we leave, we may pass on a hope that they will “feel better soon”. These everyday phrases show the intimate link between health and emotions. At some instinctive level, we understand that physical health includes emotional health. If we believed that our health was purely physical, perhaps our question would be “what are your symptoms?” or we would pass on a hope that their “symptoms will lessen soon”.
We are emotional beings.
We experience the world around us through touch, taste, sound, smell and sight. At a conscious and subconscious level, we link emotions to these sensual experiences. The memories that come back to us when we hear a piece of music, walk into a kitchen, bite into a childhood snack or touch a beautifully soft scarf show us how strong the link is between the sensual experience and emotion. The feelings that we experience may be good or bad. Either way, our emotions and sensual experiences have an impact on us.
The link between the two was brought home to me when I was pregnant with our first daughter. I can remember walking past a bakery and breathing in all the aromas wafting out through the door. The smell I had always associated with yumminess triggered my morning sickness and left me feeling queasy instead of comforted. I was really confused by the reaction, so much so that 22 years on, I can still recall its impact on me!
The link with physical health
How comfortable are you with the idea that the experiences we have in life, and their emotional counterparts, can contribute to physical illness? What if our experiences repeatedly trigger difficult, challenging or scary emotions rather than comforting, happy or uplifting emotions? How well can our body cope?
My experience of working with clients who have chronic fatigue conditions such as M.E, Fibromyalgia and CFS is of two things:
– There are usually multiple challenging emotional experiences. These might include things like:
loss of job
difficult relationships or friendships
feeling like an outsider who never quite fitted in
difficult childhood or teenage years
– The body has not been able to cope and this has triggered some form of failsafe/shutdown mode.
My experience is that emotional experiences are absolutely, 100% contributing to physical illness.
It’s all in your mind…
I am not suggesting that chronic fatigue conditions are all in the mind! Far from it. I know there are physical elements. This is demonstrated by how quickly my clients’ physical health improves when they work with a specialist practitioner nutritional therapist such as my colleague, Kerry Munson who runs Think Wellness. I also know that tackling the physical side on its own does not lead to sustained good health. It is vital to work on the emotional side as well in order to prevent re-lapses.
The work I do with my clients is all around helping them to move forward. Sometimes to move forward you need to understand what’s happened in the past by looking at some of the emotional experiences. It’s a bit like drawing a giant dot to dot picture.
We find connections between experiences in the past, the beliefs and values that those experiences have generated, the feelings that existed at that time and how these have all come together in the present situation. This awareness of what was then allows choice about the shape of what is to come in the future.
Peeled many onions recently?!
Therapists often talk about peeling the layers of an onion as a metaphor for the work that we do in order to support a client. We humans are extraordinarily complex emotional beings. We have a subconscious that protects us from all manner of difficulties and danger. It is not realistic to expect to be able to solve complicated conditions like chronic fatigue within a short space of time. The peeling of the onion allows time for the emotional discoveries to be absorbed and understood, examined and decided upon. This unpicking of events is a journey of self-discovery. There is immense benefit in terms of self-confidence and self-belief through going through this process. In some ways, to try and shortcut this journey results in missed opportunity for learning and is likely to lead to relapse and re-occurrence of the conditions.
We are all wonderfully unqiue individuals who all have wonderfully unique experiences throughout our lives. No two people experience an event exactly the same way, therefore no two people are likely experience the same emotional impact. For this reason, I do not believe that there is a single, one stop cure for M.E, Fibromyalgia or CFS.
I do however believe that we can follow a process to enable recovery. There is a proven process – The Chrysalis Effect Online Recovery Programme – that has been developed over the past 10 years by people who HAVE recovered from M.E, Fibromyalgia and from CFS. The approach is tailored to meet each client’s specific requirements, to peel back the layers in the right order for them.
How the process works
The process starts with assessing the 8 key areas to review what’s going on currently in each of those areas. From this analysis, we work back to understand the values, beliefs and emotions that are underpinning what’s going on in the present. We combine this with looking forward to what my clients want to achieve in the future. This combination of understanding the past and gaining clarity over the future has a phenomenal impact on emotional health and physical wellbeing.
This is not as simple as “thinking yourself better”. It’s much deeper and much harder work than that. It’s why individuals that complete the recovery process come out of it with so much self-confidence and self-belief.
If you are prepared to accept that emotions impact your physical health, you are not reliant on a (as yet undiscovered) physical cure.
Your emotions and experiences are not set in stone. How you choose to interpret them, how you choose to let them shape you can be altered. You have the power to change them. This in turn means you have the power to change your chronic fatigue condition.
How amazing would that be?
I find it mind-blowingly positive and hopeful. It means that you can chose not to be the victim of your circumstances but can instead be the boss.
Instead of feeling hopeless about a diagnosis that is “long term” and “incurable”, there is a route to recovery that puts you in charge. Better yet, it’s a route that other people have taken and have got their lives back as a result of following the process.
If you or someone you know has a chronic fatigue condition and has an inkling that there is emotional ‘stuff’ sitting in the background that could be contributing towards ill health, then please get in touch with me – link to Contact page. I offer a free 30 minute health profile review which allows you the chance to find out more about what I do so you can decide whether or not it’s of interest to you.