Have you ever wondered if your painful silences mask some physical disorder? When you have had a bad time, or have had a displeasure, have you developed a cold afterwards or have you had a relapse of your weakest point? In these cases, your emotions may be taking their toll.
But do we know how to detect these intimate cries and their relationship with our emotions, or do we not think and run forward, denying the pain and making the suffering appear?
The relationship between the physical and the psychological
Think for a moment about the following example:
Alex was a boy who liked to fish and often went out with his best friend to the nearest river they had. One day, on his way home, Alex got a thorn in his foot. From that moment on, Alex walked, trying not to plant his foot on the ground, as the thorn caused him immense and continuous pain, preventing him from walking properly… So the days went by and, while his friends had a great time in the park going up and down the slide, Alex was lamenting that he could not do it the way he had done before. But Alex was afraid to pull out his spine because of the pain it would cause him. His friends, seeing Alex’s suffering, plotted to grab him by the arms, and despite attempts against Alex, finally managed to remove the spine from his foot. At that moment there was silence and a great relief came over Alex. (J. Barrios).
This is a clear example of how many times, trying to avoid pain, we incur in constant suffering that prevents us from living happily. It is almost always preferable to face the pain, however intense and heartbreaking it may be, in order to remove the thorn that nails us to our existence.
Let us remember that almost always (at least in 90% of cases, as Stephen Covey would tell us) we are responsible for the suffering we allow into our lives. The result of my years of experience as a psychology coach has led me to several conclusions about this.
Physical problems after emotional problems
Our nature is wise and declares to us what our heart does not confess , either because we do not know how to express it or because we do not want to face the circumstance. This is how we somatize and often end up getting sick. In that sense, the flow of words, as Daniel Goleman would say in his book Emotional Intelligence, will relieve the troubled heart.
Our internal dialogue is defined by the flow of thought of our consciousness. Thought generates an emotion, so before the emotion there has been a thought, often derived from thought patterns automated by learning and living experiences.
The emotions and the amygdala connect our thoughts to our body, so any thought generates a type of emotion and, consequently, a behavior and the functioning of our organs: parts of the body contract, the secretion of acid from the stomach increases, the heart rate, breathing, we produce spasms in the intestine, we sweat, we blush, we cry, …
If thoughts and emotions are continuously negative (they become maladaptive if they persist in time) , our organs, our muscles and our viscera will be forced to function , adapting to a situation of permanent stress that ends up making them sick.
For example, if I think I am being controlled or I feel persecuted and I feel afraid, my heart races, I breathe faster (hyperventilating), my hands sweat, my mouth dries up, my stomach hurts, or my body muscles contract. If, on the contrary, I think that life is going well for me in general, that I smile, my muscles relax, I feel good, my tension goes down, my body is oxygenated and my breathing gets deeper.
In order to improve our physical and mental health our aim should be to determine the relationship between the symptom our body manifests and our hidden emotion and give it expression . Let’s think that once we have identified our problem, 50% of it can be solved. When we identify it, we are in a position to control it.
In short, is the language of the symptom and, favouring the environment offered by Psicoconsulting Empresarial, with the cognitive-behavioural therapy as well as the strategic briefing, we help you to identify and express it. When we do not do this, we incur the risk of becoming ill. So beware of repressed feelings that we feel we have not been allowed to express! We will somatize to release the emotion.
What do you do in therapy?
From the cognitive-behavioral current we try to describe the symptoms that we suffer; for example, palpitations, knot in the throat, lack of air, dizziness, stomach pain, sleep problems, knee pain… especially symptoms that affect or disable us in some way in our daily life. We could make a list with the patient in order of intensity, and previously identify the thought that has taken place immediately before the symptom.
In that sense it is advisable to keep a record of each of the symptoms , from the moment they have arisen, and to be able to arrive at the positive reformulation of the same thought. It should be noted that the same thought may cause different symptoms with different intensities depending on the person. To evaluate the intensity of the symptoms, we will use the Beck’s test and elaborate a scale of symptoms, personalized, in order of intensity, which will be quantified during the inter-sessions.
In many cases it will be thoughts that originate fear, anxiety, fear of fear, and it will be there when in addition to working with cognitive-behavioral techniques, we will work with those of the strategic brief therapy, strategies that will have to do with "adding wood to the fire" (G.Nardone).
Incidentally, we also know from the bibliography of Dethlefsen and Dahlke (2003), in their book La enfermedad como camino , as well as from the work of Adriana Schnake, that the parts of our body that get sick, do so many times because we do not accept any of their characteristics, and they have a symbolism and a correlation with the organs of the body. Healing will take place when both parts are reconciled, and our mind accepts the characteristics of the sick organ. In spite of this, to the general meaning of each symptom, we must conjugate several rules for its interpretation.
Observed body symptoms
With cognitive-behavioral therapy, it is very important to consider the time when the symptom occurs. Because emotional recall is short term, a comprehensive record of both the symptom and the thought at the time it occurs is recommended:
- Date? Time?
- What were your thoughts at that time,
- What did I feel,
- With what intensity… (For example from 1 to 10)
- Reformulation of thought
- New assessment of the emotion felt.
On the other hand, all the symptoms force us to change our behaviour , which also gives us information, especially when they disable us in our daily life. For example, continuous headaches will prevent me from doing my job properly, or my energy will decrease if I don’t eat well, or I don’t sleep well… Before this we can also ask ourselves: What is preventing me from this symptom? What is this symptom forcing me to do?
This is how we, mental health professionals, make it easier for the client/patient to become aware of what is limiting and hindering them in their growth and to offer them coping techniques for the resolution of conflict and suffering. In short, the objective will be to go learning to be happy .