I often wonder if Janet Greeson, Ph.D envisioned that the title of her book, "It's Not What You're Eating, It's What's Eating You" (1993), would become a popular cultural icon, representing the very heart of the western world's health issues.
With all due respect to biochemistry and to the role nutrition plays in the development of disease, scientific research of the past few decades demonstrates explicitly that biochemical processes are highly affected by emotions. Stress, negative emotions and unresolved emotional conflict stored in the body will override even the healthiest diet, every time.
In the movie "The Bleep" (2004), Dr. Dispenza said: "If we're bombarding the cell with the same attitude and the same chemistry, over and over again on a daily basis, when that cell finally decides to divide, it will have more receptor sites for those particular emotional neuropeptides1 and less receptor sites for vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fluid exchange, or even for the release of waste products or toxins. So then the question arises, does it really matter what we eat and does nutrition really have an effect, if the cell doesn’t even have the receptor sites, after 20 years of emotional abuse, to even receive or let in the nutrients that are necessary for its health?"
The emotional and physcial realms are intimately inter-related through neurological and biochemical pathways. In addition to the psychological aspect of emotional experiences, emotions also elicit physcial sensations. Anger, for example, can feel like fire burning in the body; resentment may feel like a festering wound; fear can feel like the walls closing in on you, and so on. The physical experience of sensations is a very subjective thing. Based on one's individual world of metaphoric associations, physical experiences can differ dramatically from one person to the other. There is no right or wrong in that regard.
Emotions cause the secretion of biochemicals which directly affect cell functionality. Candace Pert, Ph.D. from Georgetown University Washington DC, a pioneer in the field called Psycho-Neuro-Immunology, was the first to discover the "Molecules of Emotion"2 back in the 1980's. In her revolutionary research, Dr. Pert revealed a physiological connection between emotions and the immune system, proving that emotions can enhance or inhibit immunity. This was the first scientific proof that body & mind are physiologically one, and that emotions directly affect physcial health. The undisputable conclusion was, that our cells experience exactly what we experience emotionally.
Dr. Pert proved that unresolved emotional trauma and conflict are stored in the body. As such, they disrupt normal cellular activity, significantly contributing to the development of physical disease.
Following that line of thought, physical disease is an accurate representation of stored emotional experiences, manifested in the body in physical form. The severity of physical symptoms systematically corresponds to the intensity of the related emotional charge.
For example: physcial suffocation, as in asthma, corresponds to the stifling of one's emotions. "Emotional constipation", typical of people who bottle up emotions, corresponds to physcial constipation. Emotional pain corresponds to physcial pain, and so on.
Given the direct correlation between body and mind, re-establishing inner equilibrium – by resolving and releasing the specific emotions associated with physical disease – supports the body in the re-establishment of physical harmony.
Emotionally charged memories are stored in the subconscious mind as patterns called emotional blueprint. The emotional blueprint includes the positive or negative emotions associated with the memory, as well as any beliefs and coping mechanisms which have developed following the core source event. Once integrated into the subconscious mind, the entire blueprint pattern is automatically activated in situations that associatively remind us of the core source event.
As a result, we re-experience limiting experiences over and over again throughout our life. Re-occurance of unpleasant experiences deepens, and enhances the pattern and its negative affect on the body and on our performance in all life realms. For that reason, disease in adulthood is often associated with painful childhood experiences.
Prior to Candace Pert's revoutionary discoveries, emotions were percieved as elusive, amorphous and unpredictable, definitely not something that can be consciously and intentionally managed. Emotional health was believed to be a function of the amount of positive versus negative emotions one experiences. Accordingly, therapuetic approaches encouraged people to cultivate and perpetuate as many positive emotions as possible.
Although motivated by good intentions, looking back, it cannot be denied that these approaches had serious drawbacks that caused very problematic long-term health ramifications.
The unrealistic attempt to achieve and maintain constant positivity, caused many to further suppress negative emotions, pushing them deeper and deeper into the body – where they festered, eventually causing physical disease. As emotional suppression became a cultural norm, physically we became sicker and sicker.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of emotional healing since then. Vast clinical experience demonstrates that emotional health constitutes mucn more than just cultivating positive emotions. For emotional healing to transform physcial disease, the specific emotional themes associated with specific health conditions must be accurately identified and healed. To perpetuate long term health, it is vital that we acquire healthy and resourceful ways of dealing with our emotions.
Although that may sound like looking for a needle in a hay stack, which it is at times, there are very effective techniques that facilitate accurate identification of the emotional themes that need healing. Clinical experience demonstrates that when the correct emotional theme is addressed, the body responds almost immediately by fully activating its self-healing mechanisms.
Transforming Health Conditions by Healing Emotions
Transforming health conditions by healing emotions is basically a four-step process:
1. Revealing the "emotional story" embodied in the physcial symptoms.
2. Identifying the core source event.
3. Decharging the core/source emotional charge.
4. Practicing healthy emotional self-management skills.
Whether we like it or not, emotions are THE #1 factor that determines the human experience, and they are here to stay. There is no question that as long as we live, we will continue to experience both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. For that reason, an important aspect of emotional healing is learning how to deal resourcefully with unpleasant emotions associated with life's stresses and challenges. Physcial disease occurs when we fail to address our emotions and our emotional needs. If you deal resourcefully with emotions when they arise, they will color your life in a rainbow of experiences without creating disease.
Natural healing and integrative medicine centers all over the world acknowledge the importance of emotional factors in the healing of from chronic or life-threatening disease, and incorporate emotional therapy in their healing protocols.
Those who have recovered, describe feelings of liberation, inner harmony, a sense of re-birth and higher levels of health than prior to the disease.
True, dealing with emotional pain is far from being a walk in the park. Confronting your inner dragons often requires more effort than what it takes to maintain a healthy diet.
With that said, emotional healing is probably one of the most lucrative investments one can make in oneself. In some cases – including those of long-standing chronic and severe physical disease – emotional healing can be what makes the difference between well-being and prolonged suffering.
1 Emotional biochemical
2 Molecules of Emotion, The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine, Candace B. Pert, Ph.D, Simon & Shuster, 2003