Are Negative Emotions and Thoughts causing us to fall Ill?
One day, a man had flu. His wife dropped his plate and utensils in boiling water, so he won’t spread his germs.
Their 5 year old daughter saw this and asked, “What are you doing Mommy?”
“I’m boiling the dishes to kill Daddy’s germs,” she said.
The girl remained quiet. After awhile, she said, “I have an idea. Why not just boil Daddy and kill all his germs?”
We blame germs for our sickness. But that’s only partly true. Our immune system is so terrific; it can fight almost all germs. But we get into trouble when our immune system gets weak and one thing that causes it to weaken is our negative emotions. Diseases manifest in the mind first before manifesting in the body.
The Shocking Truth:
Studies show that 85% of all disease is rooted in our emotions. That means that among the 17 million people who died of heart disease last year, and among the 7.2 million people who died of cancer last year, 85% of those diseases were rooted in their emotions.
If only someone taught them to work on their emotions (not just on their bodies), some of them might still be alive today.
Most of our diseases are messages – what message?
Diseases are telling us that we have a spiritual need that we have to fill. But instead of listening to the message, we kill the messenger. We get rid of the sickness without addressing our soul needs. Very soon, the sickness will reappear – sometimes, in a fatal way.
For example, our sickness may be telling us, “You need to forgive and get rid of your anger,” but instead of forgiving, we take a pill, or our sickness is telling us, “You need to stop worrying and trust God more,” but instead of trusting, we take a pill, or our sickness is telling us, “You need to stop working too hard and relax more with your family,” but instead of playing with our kids, we take a pill.
In primitive societies, doctors were also priests. When people got sick, the cure was holistic. Aside from giving them herbs, doctors told them to pray, to forgive and to trust in God.
Then the scientific revolution came and doctors focused purely on the body and toxic chemicals as medicine.
Today, the old model is coming back. Because now, many doctors are praying with their patients, are telling them to have faith, to forgive and to spend time with their families. They’ve become doctors and priests again.
Two Reasons Why We Get Sick:
How do our emotions cause sickness? In two important ways:
First, when we have too much negative emotions
Second, when we have too little positive emotions
Let us see how both are deadly to our system.
1) Too Much Negative Emotions:
Let’s take stress
When I was a small boy, I regularly massaged Dad’s shoulders every night. It was part of my “chore” as a kid. But every time I did, I’d complain, because his shoulders were as hard as steel! They were no match for my tiny thumbs. Even then, I knew the tension in his shoulders came from his job. Dad was a manager in a large food company. Mom said he also had hypertension.
Dad had hypertension all his life – all his life, that is, until he reached 65. That was the year he retired from his job. From that day on, he never had hypertension, all the way until the day God called him home at young age of 88.
One day, when Dad had already retired, but very busy serving God, I remember he was eating in the dining room. I went behind him and gave him a shoulder massage. The difference was amazing! His shoulders were soft and supple. No more tension in them. That’s the power of stress in our lives.
Stress and Sickness: Who are those most susceptible to heart disease?
Those with a “Type A Personality”: People who are aggressive, easily angered, competitive, controlling and always rushing.
Here’s a scary fact. Eighty two percent of people who have heart disease have a Type A Personality! The cause is stress. (Type A Personality isn’t just a personality. Type A is a spiritual disease.)
Here’s another fact: More strokes and heart attacks happen on Monday than at another day of the week. (We need a Presidential Decree removing Mondays from our calendar!)
I know a woman who liked her job but didn’t like the boss she was working for. There was a lot of conflict. Wanting a break from her stress, she took a 15-day vacation. And she enjoyed her two-week vacation. But on the 14th day, when she knew she was going back to her job, she suffered a massive stroke. Today, half of her body is paralyzed – a perfect picture of her life – half of her body wanted to go to work, the other half didn’t want to! This is due to the fact that our bodies are not made for prolonged stress.
Another negative emotion is anger… Anger has an expiry date.
One day, a man was sitting in his living room when he heard a knock on the front door. He opened the door and saw no one. But as he looked down, he saw a snail, saying in a little voice, “Can I borrow $100?”
The man shouted, “Get out of here!” and kicked the snail off his porch.
One year later, the man is sitting in the living room and he hears a knock on the door. He opens it and sees a very angry snail, asking, “Why did you do that?”
Some of us are snails — after a year, we’re still angry! People who are like snails won’t enjoy optimal health.
Here’s the truth: God never designed our body to keep anger for a long time. Anger’s purpose is to spur us to action. Once that purpose is fulfilled, we should get rid of anger by forgiveness.
In other words, anger has an expiry date. Once past is due, it becomes poison in our body.
Are you angry with someone? Surrender your anger to God.
Angry people die sooner.
They made a study of 255 doctors and asked them to take a “hostility” test. In other words, how they respond to drivers who cut them on the road or to people who criticize them or to friends who are disloyal them.
Thirty years later, the researchers went back to these same doctors. What did they find out? Some of those doctors who scored high in the hostility test were already dead! Their death rate was six times higher than those who scored low in the hostility test.
Remember: Angry people die sooner.
If we don’t want to get sick, what should we do with stress, anger, sadness, fear and other negative emotions? Ignore them? Pretend they’re not there?
No, that will make it worse.
Here’s the big message: What we can feel, we can heal. What does that mean? Don’t escape your negative emotions.
Perhaps you have money problems now.
Or you have conflicts at work.
Or you have a broken heart.
Or you have marriage problems.
Or you have problems with your kids.
Or you’re sick right now.
And you’re tempted to escape from your anxiety, stress, anger, fear, and depression.
How? Some people become numb. Others escape through addictions: drugs, alcohol, sex, video games, food, shopping, relationships or become workaholic.
Remember that all addiction is really emotional anesthesia. So that we won’t feel our emptiness, our fears, our depression, our anger, we distract ourselves with destructive addictions.
But when we don’t feel our negative emotions, they come out in our bodies as respiratory problems, ulcers, headaches, skin allergies, digestive problems, even cancers.
Even Childhood Emotions…
John Sarno is a doctor, specializing in back, neck, shoulder and leg pain. When he was a young doctor, his main tools were like every other doctor — surgery and pills. But soon, he got very frustrated with the results. Many times, the pains of his patients would come back — even after expensive treatments and invasive surgery.
That’s when he overhauled his method of healing. Now, his tools of healing people are two lectures! Basically, he tells them how their unacknowledged and unfelt childhood emotions cause their pains.
He explains: Their subconscious mind was giving them real physical pains to distract them from discovering and feeling these very painful emotions buried in their past. Perhaps their father abandoned them when they were children. Perhaps they witnessed their parents getting a divorce. Perhaps they were beaten as kids. The fear and rage and sadness were so overwhelming, they buried them all in. They pretended everything was okay.
After ten, fifteen, twenty years, these dark emotions manifest in all sorts of diseases.
The result: (This is amazing.) For the past 30 years now, Dr. Sarno has treated 10,000 patients with a 95% cure rate – using what – two lectures!
Some of his patients experience instantaneous healing. Others took a longer time to heal, as they had to discover these painful emotions within them and feeling them again. They did this via small groups or psychotherapy.
If you also want to experience healing then you need to feel your feelings before God.
If you want to be healed from your diseases, feel your negative emotions. More specifically, feel your darkest emotions before God. Weep. Be angry. Question Him. (He’s big enough to take it.)
Go to God now and share your inmost heart. Tell Him what you feel, whether it’s anxiety, stress, fear, anger, sadness…
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer…”
“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.”
God is telling you to go to Him no matter what you’re feeling. Friend, God is waiting for you now. So go ahead. Before Him, feel your darkest emotions.
Soon, those negative emotions will pass, because all storms come to an end and you’ll notice the healing of your body too.
The second reason that causes us to fall ill…
2) Too Little Positive Emotions
Two weeks ago, I met Fr. Georges-Etienne Beauregard, an old Jesuit priest. He is 97 years old.
He’s led an incredible life: Imprisoned in China, built churches in the Philippines for 12 years and worked with the aborigines in Taiwan for the last 42 years.
What is he doing today at 97? Still very busy, working in a parish and hospital (which he also built) among the aborigines in Taiwan.
How healthy is he? When he was 95, he was still riding his motorbike!
I asked him, “Father, what is the secret of your long life?”
He chuckled and said, “I have no problems. Others have problems with me, but I have no problems.”
In other words, he didn’t focus on his problems. In my short time I had with him, I noticed he chuckled a lot. He loved to laugh!
The secret to his long life was no secret at all. It was very obvious. He had a light, jolly heart. In fact the first requirement to walk the spiritual path is to always be cheerful in spite of unfavourable situations and circumstances.
Our body was made to operate with the “oil of gladness” flowing through our veins, tissues, and cells. We were made to laugh, to celebrate, to be happy because our essential nature itself is of infinite eternal happiness.
One day, Norman Cousins was diagnosed to have heart disease. In his book, The Anatomy of an Illness, he shares how he got healed: By taking Vitamin C and mega-doses of laughter. Every day, he would watch comedy films and enjoy ten minutes of genuine belly laughter and he was healed! Doctors thought he would live a short life. But he lived for 30 more years.
“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works as a healing touch, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”
Are you a happy person?
Do you enjoy life?
Are you fulfilled?
Are you self-assured?
Many studies show that positive emotions strengthen our immune system.
Optimists Live Longer!
Scientists studied 1,100 patients at the Mayo Clinic and asked them to do a personality survey. These studies classified them according to optimists and pessimists. Thirty years later, they went back to these patients.
Here’s what they found out: Optimists have a 19% higher chance of still being alive than the pessimists.
Here’s one fascinating explanation. In one study, scientists studied one of the body’s natural “good mood chemicals” called serotonin. When they placed serotonin in a test tube alongside tumor cells of Burkitt’s lymphoma, the cancer cells killed themselves.
Here’s a quote from that study: “An exciting property of serotonin is that it can tell some cells to self-destruct. We have found serotonin can get inside the lymphoma cells and instruct them to commit suicide.”
How to have more Positive Emotions
How can we be happy more often? How can have more contentment, self-assurance, fulfillment and a deep sense of profound peace more often?
Let us conclude this discussion by looking at two ways:
For positive emotions the first requirement is Gratitude
Maricel is our house helper. She shared with me a very touching story.
Last month, she went home to her province in Dumaguete. She borrowed money from us to buy the little plot of land that her family house was standing on. She also brought home her savings, buying a sack of rice for her family.
She also went home to spend time with her siblings and their children — her little nephews and nieces. So one bright morning, from the barrio, they travelled to Dumaguete City. Maricel paid for all their travel fares. Everyone was excited, she said, because for some of them, it was the first time to visit the city. She brought her family to a mall and the kids were beside themselves with joy. What they loved most was the escalators. They shrieked with delight, “The stairs are running!”
When they went home, everyone was so happy. One of her little nieces hugged Maricel and asked, “Auntie, bring us out next year, okay?” Clearly, it was the high point of their year.
Casually, I asked Maricel, “What did you eat in the mall?”
“We didn’t eat. I had no budget.”
Her answer brought me to tears. Those kids went to the mall and went home without eating, and yet they were so happy.
Sometimes, we forget how blessed we. Sometimes, we have food in front of us and we even have the gall to complain that it isn’t our favorite.
No wonder we lack happiness in our lives and no wonder our bodies are sick!
We need to learn to be more grateful for life and live in gratitude. Celebrate God’s goodness, even in the smallest blessings! Soon, happiness and healing will flow into our lives.
For positive emotions the second requirement is Trust
Heart disease has killed more people than any other disease in the world. It’s the number one killer in the world and the number one cause of heart disease is stress. From my experience, there’s only one antidote to stress: Trust in God. It’s the greatest stress-buster in the world.
How much do we trust in God? There has to be at least one altar in this world where we surrender completely.
A deep trust, total shraddhaa (faith plus the element of surrender) in God will make us avoid stress and keep us healthy!