The human mind is a wondrous organ. It regulates the
functioning of this entire incredibly complex body our
ours. At the same time, it allows us to carry on our
ordinary lives, taking care of the business below our
Conscious awareness is a one-pointed affair, for most
folks. That means we are able to deal with one issue,
one topic, at a time. Because mind moves swiftly, this is
seldom a limitation to us. Mind fills in the gaps for us.
Sometimes, though, our conscious awareness becomes
so full, so clogged, that we tune out everything else.
When we become consciously unaware of issues on the
psychological level, mind continues to process them.
Normally, in a low stress, low distraction environment,
we would deal with such inner concerns in a more
conscious fashion. Unfortunately, few of us live in low
stress, low distraction environments. The mind has to
get our conscious attention to get us to deal with the
Here again we run into a glitch. Mind speaks the
language of image and intuition. Reason and logic are
functions of conscious mind, after all. Many of us are
woefully out of tune with the language of image and
intuition, at least as spoken to us by the mind.
When things get far enough out of wack, mind can
communicate with us through symptoms of bodily
discomfort. It's as if mind says, ‘You won’t listen to your
own discomfort about that relationship? Alright, I’ll send
you a headache to make your time together even more
At times, it is as if mind is screaming to us, ‘Get me outta
How do we listen more effectively?
We listen more effectively to these inner intuitions by
paying closer attention to the content of our thoughts.
Are our thoughts negative, condemning, fearful? These
emotions, unchecked, have a demonstrable negative
effect on our health.
In fact, according to clinical psychologist Leslie LeCron,
80 to 85 percent of normal, phsyiological symptoms, are
not organic. They aren’t caused by an organism, or
something organically wrong with our own bodies. The
discomforts are caused by stress, by unresolved
psychological symptoms. This doesn't mean these
symptoms don't hurt or aren't serious! It simply means
that to effectively deal with them, we have to deal with
the underlying emotional hurts.
How can our thoughts and emotions make us sick? We
have to look inside ourselves and see. Here are five
ways in which thoughts and emotions can make us sick.
1. Example. We find ourselves reacting to problems the
same way important figures in our lives did. They got
stress headaches, so do we. Are you following someone
2. Suggestion. Suggestion is similar to Example, but
more immediate. Why is it that many times we don’t catch
cold unless someone around us catches it first? Germs
that cause such illnesses are often around us anyway.
Our immune systems take care of most. But under
certain circumstances, like presence of someone else
demonstrating symptoms, we become sick ourselves?
Suggestion, of course, isn’t always the cause of our
discomfort. Sometimes we actually catch contagious
viruses and get sick. But suggestion plays a larger part
than most of us suspect.
3. Conflict. Unresolved conflict, either with other
people or with ourselves, often manifests as a physical
symptom. We get a migraine, for instance, or an upset
stomach. While we can and often should medicate the
symptom, unless we address the conflict that causes it
we’ve only given ourselves a band-aid.
Most of us find conflict much more exhausting than we
realize. It takes a far larger toll than we admit. Perhaps if
we were more aware of its cost, we would involve
ourselves in less of it.
4. Punishment. Let’s face it. Sometimes we get away
with things in the world that we know are wrong.
Sometimes there is even a rush of satisfaction in doing
so. But the nagging voice of conscience doesn’t cease
to speak. It speaks to us of, as Thomas Jefferson put it,
“decent regard for the opinions of mankind.”
If it can’t get our attention consciously, it will be sure to
get our attention through symptoms. The ancient Greeks
told stories about the Furies, fierce beings who invisibly
pursued hidden criminals and deviants. Eventually,
unless we resolve the issue, those “furies” catch up to
us. We unconsciously punish ourselves for the wrong
we have done.
Unfortunately, we may punish ourselves long after the
deed is done. Or we may get so in the habit of punishing
ourselves that we do it continually, whether warranted or
The symptom can often be allayed by disciplines such as
forgiveness, introspection, focused awareness on the
problem. Until we learn to recognize the symptom as
what it is, though, we continue to suffer.
5. Avoidance. Appropriately enough, avoidance comes
last in the list. It comes so not because it is the least
important, but because, well, I was trying to avoid it.
Some situations in life are far more uncomfortable for us
than they seem on the surface. We grew up in a difficult
household. People pretended to be one thing when
others were looking, but were someone else entirely in
the home. It stressed us out hugely when we were kids,
but we never called the stress by name. We were
supposed to only say and think good things about family.
Then we went out into the world and discovered that it
all wasn’t like our family. That may have been a huge
relief to us. We may be living an entirely different way
than our family of origin. But the “original sin,” if you
will, of our family remains unaddressed.
Every time we go to family engagements we get sick.
Sometimes even things that remind us of our families
cause the symptoms: TV programs, unrelated arguments
with loved ones, and the like. We have headaches. We
can’t sleep. In some, small way at least, our bodies make
We attribute the symptoms to other causes. And while it
may in fact have some relation to those things, it has a
far larger relation to our mind’s desire to avoid the
dysfunction we grew up with.
Our symptoms may arise because we are silently
dreading something, but not admitting it to ourselves.
Sometimes conscious mind plows ahead despite the
pain. Sometimes that is the right thing to do.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t. Sometimes we need to give
ourselves room to come to terms with why we want to
avoid the situation. Sometimes the body is exactly right:
we can and should stay away, because no real good is
gained by our suffering.
©2007, John G. Cunyus
All Rights Reserved.
|These are five ways our
thoughts can make us sick:
Read the article
for more details
|Five Ways Our Thoughts
Can Make Us Sick
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Words, Images, and
©2008 John G. Cunyus
All Rights Reserved
John Cunyus is a
working in North Texas.