The Mind-Body Connection
The basic premise of the mind-body connection is that how you think and process emotions impacts your health and wellbeing. If you engage in mental habits like self-pressure, worrying, negative thinking, or beating yourself up, or if you suppress (or have suppressed) your emotions, your body will communicate this to you. For some people, one way the body communicates is through producing pain.
The cycle generally works like this: at first, your body may signal to you via a gut feeling or emotional sensation (like a swirling in your stomach) that your thinking is not aligned with who you are or that you are suppressing emotions. If ignored, your body’s messages will get louder. Eventually, if you keep ignoring your body’s messages (and your truth), then your body may soon be communicating with you by producing physical pain. Why does it produce pain? Continuing the above habits and patterns without addressing the underlying issues can lead to an overactive nervous system which increases tension in the body which eventually leads to pain.
Luckily, you can begin to undo this cycle anytime you bring awareness to your inner world!
Dr. John Sarno was one U.S. physician who explored and wrote about the connection between mental habits and emotional suppression patterns and pain. By studying his patients, he found that people with certain personality traits (such as being a people-pleaser or a perfectionist) were often the ones to develop pain issues. He categorized these pain issues using the term Tension Myositis Syndrome, or TMS (also now called Mind-Body Syndrome or MBS).
Dr. Sarno found these pain issues to be reversible. He realized that the simple act of educating his patients about the link between their emotions and personality traits with their pain was often helpful in reducing their pain. Additionally, he taught them to see pain as just a symptom of the conscious mind trying to avoid what’s being stored (suppressed emotions) in the unconscious mind. He instructed patients to resume normal activities since their pain was not occurring as a result of structural issues in their bodies. Finally, he recommended that patients receive professional help to process their emotions. (He pointed to unconscious anger as the main emotion involved). Many of his patients experienced remarkable relief from their pain following his protocol.
Today, an understanding of the mind-body connection continues to be expanded upon and/or tweaked by other professionals in the world. For example, the mind-body connection, as it’s now understood, shows us that detrimental mental habits and emotional suppression patterns don’t necessarily manifest as pain for everyone. For example, instead of feeling pain, some people may feel stressed, drained, overwhelmed, anxious, triggered, or more. Furthermore, anger is not the only emotion that, when suppressed, causes the body to signal to you. Any emotion that can’t flow will eventually be communicated to you by your body.
Through my work (with myself and clients), I've also witnessed that having a situation that repeats itself in your life is yet another signal from your mind-body system. For example, if you are continually finding yourself in stressful work situations or attracting partners who are not supportive, chances are there is something inside of you (within your unconscious mind) asking to be resolved and released. That “something” may be a suppressed emotion, a self-sabotaging thought, a past hurt that needs healed, a part of yourself that needs heard, or more.
Ultimately, the mind-body connection teaches that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Once you bring awareness to your inner world, you will begin to see positive changes in your health, wellbeing, and situations in your life. With your body as your guide, you will able to see and release whatever is no longer serving you!