Can Negative Emotions Cause Disease, Illness and Pain? YES

Though there is much to be said for having a positive outlook on life, negative emotions are an undeniable aspect of being human. As a matter of fact, according to psychologists, such as Jonathan Adler, our experience and processing of negative emotions is an essential aspect of a healthy mind.  When we try to suppress or deny negative emotions, they will manifest unconsciously as uncontrolled outbursts, or physically, as disease, illness, and pain. Negativity is more than just a state of mind; it is also a physiological and physical state which can have detrimental effects on your well-being. So, while negative emotions in and of themselves are not bad for your health, prolonged states of negativity are very bad for your health.

Negative Affectivity

NAS is a state of psychological difficulty, suffering characterized by the preponderance of negative moods and emotions that impair adaptive functioning and well-being.  These negative moods and emotions include anger, fear, disgust, guilt, and contempt.  The opposite of negative affectivity is positive affectivity and is associated with feelings of composure, calm, and serenity, something which we will explore later.  Research has shown that individuals with high negative affect show higher levels of stress and anxiety and tend to focus on that which is unpleasant in the world, in others and in themselves.  It is the relationship between negative emotions and stress that is the important factor to consider here.

The Stress Response

While we tend to use the word stress quite lightly in daily conversation, most people have no idea of the damage that stress does to the body.  That damage is anything but light – in fact, that damage can be deadly.  Biological stress is an instinctual reaction to stimuli, also called stressors, in the environment.  Whenever a threat is perceived, our body’s stress response takes over, something which initiates psychological, physiological (chemical), and physical reactions in the body, reactions over which we have no control.  In an effort to prepare to fight or flight, our muscles tense, our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar soar, our immune and digestive systems are repressed, and our muscles tense up.  All of these reactions help us fight or run for our lives in the face of a real enemy.  The reaction is supposed to be a response to a temporary state of events, however these days, people live in a constant state of stress in reaction to simple daily life events, like driving to work. No organism is cut out to handle constant states of stress.

If you haven’t already made the connection between today’s leading killer diseases and what was just said, let’s spell it out now.  “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) – including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure – is the number 1 killer in men and women in the United States” – not to mention CVD costs the US (i.e. taxpayers) over $300 billion each year – and most of it is stress-induced.

A negative attitude is like a bad habit.  It might be difficult to break, but it can certainly be done.  Before we look at how to undo negative thinking, let’s take a look at how negativity sets-in in the first place.

The Habit of Negativity – Neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of our nervous system to adapt to and modify itself based on what we do most often.  Think about learning any new skill, like playing an instrument for example. At first you are a bit shaky, but over time, you get better and better at it until it becomes second nature.  Well, our thoughts work on that same neural system.  The more we think certain thoughts or have certain emotional responses, the more inclined we are to think those thoughts and respond with those emotions, until finally, all of it becomes engrained in our personalities.  Once this happens, these negative personality traits are combined with the negative effects of the stress response – and that is simply not a good recipe for a healthy lifestyle.

Transforming Negativity

Our neural system’s neuroplasticity is the secret to changing negativity, and if you are dedicated to changing yourself, you can do it in as little as 21 days. While this may sound like an infomercial, it’s not because this cure does not cost you any money. That cure is meditation.  Research has shown that after only 21 days of compassion meditation, grey matter in the brain was increased in all areas associated with higher functioning, such as empathy and compassion, perspective-taking, learning, and memory to name only a few.  In addition, after those 21 days the area of the brain associated with stress – the amygdala – had decreased in grey matter!  This means that in addition to the effects of lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugar, were the effects of lowered stress levels and anger responses.  One of the most encouraging of those results was this: the meditators in the study reported that none of the stressors in life had changed. All of the same stressors were still there. It was only their response to stress that had changed. It is only when we can change our response to stress and negative emotions that we can free ourselves from both.

Low Self-Esteem is the Root of ALL Your Problems

If you want to get rid of all of the problems in your life, then there is one thing that you need to fix: your low self-esteem. Many people may not recognize that their self-esteem is creating problems in their life, but if you trace each problem to the root cause, then you will see that the problems actually stem from your self esteem.

Definition of Self-Esteem

In order for you to know how to improve your self-esteem, it is important that you first understand exactly what it is. Self-esteem is a person’s opinion of themselves: an emotional evaluation or judgment of their own worth. These emotions and beliefs can be either positive or negative, and negative belief sets create low self-esteem. Your self-esteem drops even lower each time you pass negative judgment on yourself, or you view yourself as unworthy, discouraged, or worthless.

Examples of Low Self-Esteem

Having self-esteem in abundance means that you will have the ability to overcome any problems or issues that you may face in life. On the other hand, having low self-esteem is setting yourself up for failure, because it will prevent you from reaching your potential. Here are a few examples of ways that low self-esteem may be impacting your life:

  • Low self-esteem can cause contention in relationships, because deep down you believe that you don’t deserve to be with that person
  • Low self-esteem takes away your peace, because you never feel good enough for the things that you are receiving in life
  • Low self-esteem prevents you from advancing in your career, because you don’t feel as though you have the skill set that is required for the higher level work
  • Low self-esteem takes away your happiness, because you aren’t confident in the things that bring you joy

How to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Regardless of the current level of your self-esteem, there are several things that you can do in order to improve it. If you want to experience success in your life, then you should be constantly working to improve your own self-esteem.

These are a few ideas that can be used in order to boost low self-esteem:

  1. Quiet Your Inner Voices. Most people with low self-esteem will agree that they often have negative self-talk running through their head. With practice, you can recognize that inner critic, and replace those thoughts with positive ideas instead. For example, if you have thoughts running through your head saying that you are fat, then you should immediately think: “NO, NO, noooooooooo! We are not allowing those thoughts today!” The pattern interrupt will stop the thoughts in the moment, then you can replace them with constructive, positive thoughts.
  2. Refocus on Your Strengths. The problem with low self-esteem is that your inner critic is constantly looking for proof  that you are worthless. So, you are in a situation where you are constantly dwelling on your weaknesses and problems. Make a concerted effort to identify your positive traits, so that you can focus on those things throughout the day. Setting a positive mindset will help to drown out the negative thoughts that are trying to surface.
  3. Spend Time on Self-Care and Grooming. Even though it seems obvious, it needs to be said: when you take care of yourself, you feel a lot better about yourself. Even something as simple as a quick shower and a shave can boost your confidence almost immediately. Put on some nice clothes, and you will feel better than if you were lounging around the house in sweats.
  4. Do Something to Help Another Person. It may seem counter-intuitive to do something for someone else if you are feeling bad about yourself, but a few moments of charity can lift your mood and make you feel good. Being kind and generous will help to improve your self-image, and even simple acts of kindness can go a long way.
  5. Increase Your Knowledge. Many people feel low self-esteem if they are not competent in a particular subject. In our modern world, we have access to so much information, and you can learn about anything that you desire. Instead of feeling bad about yourself, redirect that energy into learning information that will make you a smarter person.
  6. Take Care of Your Health. Choosing the right types of foods will have an impact on your moods and emotions. When you eat healthy, your body is fit and you have more energy, which has a direct impact on your self-esteem. Also, schedule time to exercise, because it will boost your endorphins and make you happier.

Taking a few minutes each day to work on your self-esteem can make a big difference in the long run. Choose a few of these suggestions and apply them consistently, and you will see an improvement in the way you feel about yourself.

Mind Healing the Body: Amazing Placebo Effect on Your Brain

The scientific community, the medical establishment, has been proving for over 50 years that the mind can heal the body.  We call it the placebo effect! – Lissa Rankin, MD/Author, Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself

The definition of the placebo effect is a beneficial effect, produced by a placebo drug or treatment that cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment.

It is interesting to note that the placebo effect is often considered to be the thorn in the side of medical researchers, desperately hoping the prove the effectivity of a particular drug or treatment – especially for those researchers receiving millions of dollars in grant money to ordain such proofs.  How can they miss the obvious reason for a celebration of the placebo effect and see it as a call for redirection of their research?  Should they not be asking themselves, “What are the implications of the placebo effect, and thus the implications of the power of belief and the human body when someone believes in something enough that it has an effect?”

Before pondering that question ourselves, let us take a deeper look into the placebo effect and how it works in the brain and the rest of the body. In one experiment led by Professor Tor Wager of Columbia University, scientists applied a neutral cream to the forearms of the participants in the study, who were told it was a pain reliever. The scientists then put actual pain relieving cream on another part of the forearm, but told the participants it would have no effect on pain.  The researchers then placed a super-hot pain stimulus, something equivalent to a hot cup of coffee, on both areas. Using positron emission topography (PET) scans, researchers could see that the placebo treatment actually caused the brain to release more opioids, our body’s endogenous (natural) pain reliever, and the volunteers, of course, reported better pain relief in that area!

In another study by the Institute of Noetic Sciences called the Spontaneous Remission Project, it was revealed that there are more than 3500 documented cases, in over 800 journals, and in 20 different languages of the spontaneous remission of disease and illness. And not just the remission of any old simple diseases, but full-blown remission in big-daddy diseases such as stage IV cancers, severe heart disease, auto-immune diseases, and HIV positive patients.  In addition to the self-healing of disease, there has also been reported drops in blood pressure, ulcers and warts disappearing, and the dilation of bronchi.

And to be crystal clear, the definition of spontaneous remission is the disappearance, complete or incomplete, of a disease or cancer without medical treatment or treatment that is considered inadequate to produce the resulting disappearance of disease symptoms or tumor.

If you haven’t yet put it together, all of this is as close to definite proof as you can get of the mind/body’s ability to heal itself, something which has profound implications.  One of the most amazing documentations was from the classic New England Journal of Medicine knee surgery study.  First some background.  Every year, about 650,000 people in the US get arthroscopic knee surgery for pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, a surgery which costs about $5,000.

The 180 participants in the study were randomly assigned to have the operation or to have placebo surgery in which surgeons simply made cuts in their knees so the patients would not know if they had the surgery.

The results of the study?  The patients who did not receive the surgery, but thought they did, reported feeling just as good afterward as the ones who did receive the surgery.

And one last placebo effect result that cannot go without mention: men who thought they were getting Rogaine actually grew hair!

That same beautiful self-healing power can also harm you. Negative thoughts can adversely affect your health. Related to the placebo effect is the nocebo effect. It works by the same mechanism as the placebo effect.  In one study it was reported that after being told of the side-effects they would experience from taking a certain test drug, 25% of patients who received the sugar pill reported severe adverse side effects.

Those treated with nothing more than placebos often report fatigue, vomiting, muscle weakness, colds, ringing in the ears, taste disturbances, memory disturbances, and other symptoms that shouldn’t result from a sugar pill.

There are countless reports of self-healing. They are not few and far between. What this tells us is twofold: that the body has innate self-repair (and self-destruct) mechanisms and these mechanisms can be engaged by perception and belief.  Perhaps these healing mechanisms are related to the good-feeling/self-healing neurotransmitters and hormones which are released when we have positive thoughts and emotions. If so, the more you can bathe yourself in these positive thoughts, the healthier you will be.

3 Steps to Recreate Your Beliefs With Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Do you have beliefs that are holding you back in life? Everyone has a set of beliefs that dictates the way they feel about themselves, the actions they will take on a daily basis, and how they respond to people and situations that they encounter. These beliefs can help you to achieve a happier, more abundant life… or they can keep you stuck in a situation that doesn’t make you happy.

The problem is that many people are living by a false set of beliefs. Experiences in their lives shaped a false story, which can be detrimental to their progress and success. If you feel like you are stuck and you are ready to move forward in life, then you need to recreate your beliefs. Using Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is one of the easiest and most effective ways that you can recreate your beliefs, and change your life.

Why NLP is Beneficial

NLP is a broad term, which encompasses tools and strategies that can be used to improve performance and change behaviors. The foundation of NLP is based on the concept that there is a connection between language, behaviors, and neurological processes. Through specific exercises and techniques, you can change the connections to create difference results.

Learning how to use NLP can make it easy to modify your habits and behaviors, or you can completely eliminate unwanted behaviors and create new ones. This process can be very powerful, and it can allow you to change any aspect of your life.

Because beliefs have a strong impact on your behaviors, it is necessary to reprogram your beliefs in order to change your behavior. You might be successful in changing a behavior for a short period of time, but those changes won’t stick unless you change your beliefs as well.

For example, think about the last time you went on a diet. You may have experienced short-term results by maintaining strong enough willpower to stay away from unhealthy foods, but eventually you gave into your old habits and stopped following the diet. Your inability to continue with the diet for a long period of time was the result of the root beliefs within yourself. Once those beliefs are changed, then it becomes easier to stick to your diet, because your new eating and exercising behaviors would become a habit.

How to Use NLP to Recreate Your Beliefs

Here is a simple exercise that you can use to change your beliefs, by using NLP techniques. These steps may seem too basic, but with consistent application they can be very powerful. Experiment with this exercise, and you will see that consistency can be a great way to reprogram the way you think:

1. Identify Where Your Beliefs are Located

Start out by thinking about something that you have a strong belief in. It can be simple, but make sure that it is undeniable. For example, you might think about the fact that you are a good cook, which can be proven every time you spend time in the kitchen. When you visualize your good cooking skills, where does it appear in your head?

As you are visualizing your cooking skills, pay attention to the space in which that visualization resides. Is it on the right or left side of the mind? Is it close by, or far away? Identify a location for that thought, and remember what it felt like and where it was located.

Then, think about something different for a minute, in order to clear your thoughts so that you can return to a neutral state of mind.

2. Identify a Non-Belief

The next step is to think about something that you aren’t sure about, such as a concept or idea that you don’t believe in. Pay attention to the location of that belief within yourself again, and you will notice that it resides in a different location than the thing that you were thinking about in step 1.

Remember where that non-belief was located, and keep a mental note so that you remember the location and feelings associated with it. Once again, clear your mind before moving onto the next step.

3. Change Your Belief

Now that you have identified the two locations for beliefs and non-beliefs, start thinking about the belief that you want to change. Notice where this belief is positioned, and how it feels. Once you identify it within your mind, visualize the belief moving through your head to the area where you want it to reside.

For example, if you want this idea to be a solid belief, then you will move it to the area that you identified in step 1. If you want to get rid of this idea because it is false, then you will visualize it moving towards the area that you identified in step 2.

Use your imagination to move the belief, and through this mental exercise you will be able to change the way you think regarding this particular topic.

Tap Yourself Wealthy: Using Emotional Freedom Technique for Abundance & Prosperity

Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as EFT, is a form of Meridian Tapping that utilizes both modern psychotherapy and ancient Chinese acupressure points.

This type of psychological acupressure employs the same energy meridians that have been used for over five thousand years in conventional acupuncture to treat psychological and physical ailments. The key difference being, that there are no needles used with EFT. In place of needles, you simply use your fingertips and tap along 9-12 acupuncture points. This tapping utilizes kinetic energy from your fingertips and stimulates your body’s energy meridian points, thereby ‘tapping’ into the healing power and energy of your own body. Along with the tapping, you repeat aloud a particular affirmation.

EFT has been scientifically proven to help heal emotional trauma, physical pain, and to even end addictions and negative habits. This is due to the fact that EFT can open up your brain’s stress centers both physically and emotionally at the same time, thereby effectively treating these issues, which may not always be treated with just psychotherapy alone.

Attraction Magnet

One of the best ways to attract wealth and abundance into your life is by using the Emotional Freedom Technique. Understand that abundance is simply an attitude, a degree of awareness. Once you have reached this level and ‘tapped’ into it, all forms of abundance (wealth, health, love, etc.) can easily flow into your life.

When broken down, your abundance is just another emotion regarding your true feelings towards wealth. Through social conditioning and family upbringing, most of us learn to have negative feelings towards our wealth. We learn that no amount of money is truly ever enough, or that we don’t really deserve to be wealthy.

This thought pattern has to be broken by tapping along the meridian points so that you can begin to believe and trust that you have enough money right now and that you will always have more than enough money. As soon as your consciousness is raised to truly believe this, the universe will open up to you and abundance can come pouring in. Conversely, if your personal beliefs regarding money are limiting in any way, then your finances will be limited too.

Where are your roots?

Just like in other healing modalities, in order to use EFT to attract wealth into your life, the true root cause of your limiting beliefs needs to be addressed. In most cases, these are emotional issues that have not been identified or resolved. For instance, you may have been raised to believe that money is the root of all evil – and therefore having too much money is a bad thing.

EFT can be used along with the correct affirmations and visualizations to remove any emotional blocks that you may have regarding your wealth that you might have learnt, inherited, or picked up since you were a babe, from your family members, your friends, and your society.

Our subconscious beliefs can really do us more harm than good – and tapping can help us quickly get rid of those damming beliefs.

Discovering Your True Beliefs

Most people make the honest mistake of believing that their current bank account amount, or their current earnings, are actually a direct result of an assortment of external influences that are outside of their control, as well as being the accumulation of mistakes that they have made over the past. The best way to overcome this is to realize that your current wealth accumulation (or lack thereof) is a result of your internal viewpoint. This will help you to regain control and begin to debunk your own false beliefs regarding wealth and money.

Uncovering The Root Of Your Beliefs

Your family set your internal viewpoints in stone years ago. Try to invoke your earliest childhood memory of your family’s dealings with money. Perhaps you remember your parents fighting over a bill, or having to work two jobs each just to put food on the table. Maybe they drove a beat up old car because they didn’t have enough of an income to afford the monthly payments on a newer car. Now think about the emotions and phrases your parents used, such as worry or disappointment. Did your family experience any traumatic events involving money when you were younger? Perhaps a messy divorce, or a job loss, or a sudden large expense like a medical bill. How did these circumstances effect you? Children learn from their parents; so what did you learn about money from your parents? By uncovering the root of your beliefs, you can better understand the money paradigm that has been subconsciously programed into you, specifically in regards to your emotional responses to money and in terms of your limiting beliefs.

Using EFT for Wealth

Unfortunately, most of us do not act logically when it comes to dealing with our money – we allow our emotions to rule instead. Our nervous systems are all hardwired to automatically feel and react in a particular manner around money. Nevertheless, we do have the power to manifest a shift in our unconscious beliefs too, by simply using our fingertips to tap lightly on acupressure points.

The first step in using EFT to overcome any obstacles you may have regarding wealth, is to learn the tapping points, or meridians. There are plenty of online sources and videos you can watch to locate these points:

  • The inner eyebrow right above the corner of your inner the eye, along the bone
  • The outer edge of eye, along the bone
  • Under and below the eye, along the bone
  • Under the nose, between it and your lip
  • Right in the middle of your chin
  • The meridian on the chest can be tricky to locate – simply go down 2 inches from the “U” shaped bone that sits just under your throat, and then move 2 inches to the right or left
  • The meridian that lies under your arm typically sits about three inches under the crease of your arm
  • There are meridian points along the insides of your wrists
  • In the middle of your crown

Make sure you tap firmly, but not hard enough that you are bruising yourself! Along with the tapping, you will also need to state an affirmation. Your unique affirmation should be based on recognizing and letting go any hidden fears or false beliefs you may have about money. Most EFT practitioners recommend the following:

“Even though I have this fear of wealth, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Or

“Even though I have this fear of failure, I deeply and completely accept myself.”

Make New Beliefs and Set New Goals

Once you have let go of any outdated thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that no longer serve you regarding your wealth, you can then create new beliefs and set new goals for yourself involving money, wealth, and abundance. Be sure to set separate goals for your savings account, as well as for your income. Decide how much you really need and/or want more wealth and use that to determine how much willpower, energy, and focus you are going to use to help reach those goals. Next, create a new belief that is centered on your true self-worth. Remember, that the amount of money you earn is directly proportionate to your own perceived value.

Raise your belief in yourself, raise your value through tapping, and you will ultimately raise your income too.

One caveat here, if you feel that even though you are constantly striving towards these goals, yet you are not seeing any measurable abundance, it is most likely that you still have a hidden negative belief or feeling surrounding money in your life. You may need to dig a little deeper to unveil it. Once you have discovered it, you can then release through tapping, and set the stage for new beliefs as well.

Research Mapping Human Emotions Shows Strong Mind Body Connection

Mind-body interconnectivity is nothing new to the ancients or to the spiritual traditions of the East, such as Yoga.  Carl Jung noticed the mind-body connection when he developed the association experiment, a system which measures both a person’s physiological and psychological response to trigger words. The modern West, still mostly trapped in the misconception of mind-body separation, is finally catching up to the idea of mind-body interconnectivity – several thousand years later. Using what they call a “topographical self-report tool,the emBody tool, researchers in Finland believe they have mapped the landscape of human emotions and their effects on the human body.

While it may come as groundbreaking news to some people, to others it is just plain common sense, information which should require no special reporting tool or technique. We experience emotions just as much in the body as we do in the mind. Think about how it feels when you fall in love, especially for the first time. Falling in love is more than just a psychological experience – something that happens in your mind. It is also a physical experience, felt as pleasurable sensations in the body. Physiologically, love can be measured in terms of neurotransmitters and endorphins.  The initial sexual tension of love is charged by the hormones testosterone and estrogen. The magnetic attraction we feel for our love-interest is fueled by adrenaline, which is associated with heart-racing and sweaty palms; dopamine, associated with feelings of desire, reward, and pleasure; and serotonin, which is associated with regulation of mood and appetite, and also, obsessive-compulsive disorder, the latter of which certainly explains why we can’t get that certain someone out of our heads or why people do the strangest things in the name of love.

So, what does the landscape of our emotions look like on our bodies?  Let’s take a look at the results of the Finland study, which were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  In the experiment, 700 participants from Western Europe and Eastern Asia were shown two silhouettes of bodies alongside emotional words, stories, movies, or facial expressions.  They were asked to color the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing while viewing each stimulus. Different emotions were consistently associated with statistically separable bodily sensation maps across experiments. These maps were concordant across West European and East Asian samples. Statistical classifiers distinguished emotion-specific activation maps accurately, confirming independence of topographies across emotions. We propose that emotions are represented in the somatosensory system as culturally universal categorical somatotopic maps. Perception of these emotion-triggered bodily changes may play a key role in generating consciously felt emotions.

The emotions studied were anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise, anxiety, love, depression, contempt, pride, shame, and envy. Using computer-modeled human silhouettes, the participants in the experiment first colored red in the area of the body where they felt increasing or decreasing shifts in activity.  As the sensations became more intense, they colored yellow. If the sensations decreased or dulled, they colored shades of blue.  The maps have also revealed that sensation patterns associated with each emotion correspond to the physiological changes in the body (those we discussed when we talked about the chemical experience of love).

All of the participants showed similar responses, indicating that the sensations associated with emotions are cross-cultural, supporting the notion that we are one human species, undivided by race and ethnicity at our deepest levels. What the participants reported was that sensations of happiness are felt throughout the entire body, while sensations of depression show dulled sensations throughout the body.  The scans also showed an interesting correlation between our seemingly metaphorical descriptions of emotions and the places in which those emotions are felt.  For example, sadness, ore broken-heartedness, was actually experienced as heightened sensations in the area of the heart.  Anger, or hot-headedness, showed clear indications of heightened sensations in the head.  Disgust, or something that makes you feel sick to your stomach, was felt in the gut.

Monitoring the topography of emotion-triggered bodily sensations brings forth a unique tool for emotion research and could even provide a biomarker for emotional disorders (Nummenmaa, Glerean, Hari, and Hietane).  Nummenmaa also added, “Many mental disorders are associated with altered functioning of the emotional system, so unraveling how emotions coordinate with the minds and bodies of healthy individuals is important for developing treatments for such disorders.”

Depth psychologists such as Carl Jung have reported numerous cases of the connection between unresolved emotional states and physical symptoms of illnesses, such as heart and digestive disorders. For example, patients who “can’t stomach” the reality of an unwanted situation will often manifest digestive disorders. Once the psychological issue is worked out, the symptoms disappear.  Results of these kind, combined with the type of research happening in Finland, offer hope to those who would rather choose to confront their emotions through psycho-dynamic intervention, rather than dull their emotions with pharmaceuticals.