By Bella Dodds
Do you find yourself hyper-focused on what foods you choose to eat, as well as making sure you get the best quality? Have you ever driven 30 extra minutes to buy your meat at an organic market, or gone out of your way to buy fresh veggies, eggs, and milk from your local farmer? Do you feel guilty if you haven’t been exercising as often as you would like?
If you are nodding then I will ask you just one more question…how much energy and discipline do you put into having a healthy mind and quality thoughts?
Do you filter what thoughts you allow yourself to think to the same standard of what foods you allow yourself to eat?
If you find yourself very disciplined and focused on the physical side of health, doing everything in your power and will to be healthy, but are failing to see optimal, sustaining results, or perhaps barely any results at all… it is wise to bring awareness to your mental and emotional stress levels. For centuries now we have been taught to focus our health primarily from a physical perspective, but this strategy falls greatly short of true health due to the essential fact that we are Human Beings not just human bodies. There is a big difference between the two.
Addressing your health just on a physical level, while minimizing your mental and emotional state of well-being can make achieving optimal self-healing a real challenge (especially depending on the severity of your symptoms). Don’t get me wrong. I believe food is medicine and a very powerful medicine!!…but food alone cannot fully combat the side-effects of being in a high sympathetic stress state of mental stress for a large portion of your day. Organic, grassfed, extra virgin, biodynamic, pastured, fair trade, goji berry extract is great n’ all, but if your internal emotional state is one of dis-ease…don’t be totally perplexed when you still have nagging physical symptoms that aren’t fully resolving themselves.
Why is this? Because the uncensored human mind naturally gravitates into stressful thinking and devaluing self-talk…
…and this kind of mental energy is incredibly toxic to the body. It creates an internal biochemical landscape of stress and chaos, which over time becomes increasingly taxing for the body to manage and respond to.
Our thoughts can elicit high internal stress responses in the body – just like unhealthy foods or extreme diets can. Excessive mental stress creates a great deal of dis-ease in the body. If you are perhaps running an inner dialogue consciously, or semi-consciously (it has become such a habit that you don’t even notice it anymore):
“This sucks. I can never get it right. Life is unfair.”
“I always mess things up. Nothing I do is ever good enough.”
Understand repetitive thoughts like these and associated emotions invoke a stress response in the body. (As does trying to be in control of everything in your life to such an acute degree that anything which does not go exactly the way you would like – you are thrown into a mental stew fest of tension and frustration). If you don’t watch your internal mental and emotional state with the same care and filtration that you do with your food, you might as well be throwing your body into a stress state by crash dieting or drinking gallons of soda each day. Diet and emotional/mental stress EQUALLY elicit severe stress responses in your body. In fact, running a self-devaluing inner dialogue can cause cold hands and feet, light-headedness, poor sleep, insomnia, reduced immune response, poor digestion, etc., all of which will cause you to crave sugar, starches, and salt. It is excellent to curb your stress by giving the body the 3 S’s, but it is also wise to look at what thoughts and life experiences may be causing the stress in the first place.
Thoughts can support physical vitality or thoughts can be extremely toxic to your body and its 70 trillion cells. Each individual may think, “This is me. This is my body. I am one person.” But in truth this is far from accurate. You are a made up of 70 trillion INDIVIDUAL organisms symbiotically working together to give you life. Your cells are intelligent and in many ways are micro versions of yourself. Each cell eats, breathes, digests food, eliminates waste, performs life-giving functions and responds to its environment through a highly evolved, intelligent cellular membrane. And your cells, just like you, respond to what is going on in their environment – they live in the environment you create.
So ask yourself: How often am I in a mental and emotional state of stress during my day? What percentage of my day am I typically at ease, and what percentage of my day am I in a state of tension? If you are running on an undercurrent of inner mental/emotional tension, and you are striving to be healthy – then this is something you need to look at.
Now don’t worry I don’t have a New Age, Pollyanna expectation that you should magically be a one-sided human being and only be positive. I don’t believe we are biologically designed to be in a blissful state of ecstasy 24/7 (and there is even some indication that superficial happiness is a health liability); however, I do know that the human mind easily defaults into a habitual pattern of stressful thinking… and if left unguarded this unfiltered and undisciplined self-critical mind does not equal a healthy environment for your cells.
If you choose to filter what you eat knowing certain foods are bad for you and make you feel sick, can you apply this same logic and learn to discipline and filter out excessive unhealthy thoughts?
This is a HUGE topic, so for now I would like to plant the seed of starting to become mindful of your thoughts and in a future post we’ll explore why you get trapped in destructive, self-ridiculing patterns. (As you have them for a reason and they are not easily undone by WILL alone. Achilles Heel emotions have a valuable, purposeful tale to tell… but that opens up another post entirely).
So for now here is food for thought:
What is a common emotional state that you experience on a day to day basis?
When you identify a common daily overwhelming emotion, close your eyes and allow yourself to feel this emotion, but this time feel this emotion from a curious non-attached perspective. Investigate this sensation and don’t get caught up in the feeling, but rather get curious and reflect: What is my belief about myself and about life within this emotion?
For example: If you are feeling Anxiety you might have a belief underneath this emotion – “I am not good enough.” “Something bad always happens.” or “I am not safe.”
Can you imagine steadily sipping on the ‘I’m not good enough Stress-Slurpee‘ all day long for weeks, months, and years on end? How much will this stress-inducing thought and emotion effect your health over time?
Bella Dodds is a Demartini Method Facilitator, International META-Health Coach, META-Kinetics Practitioner, Author & Illustrator, Somatic Respiratory Integration Practitioner, and President of The International Foundation for Human Potential. You can work with her via phone or Skype to achieve mental and emotional rebalancing through the 180 Get Help Program.