How Your Empathy is Affecting Your Health
“The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.” – Hippocrates
Since ancient times, there has been the belief that our mind has the power to alter the health of our body, both for the positive and negative. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic medicine have both emphasized the connection between our mind and our body and this link has continued to pop up through more modern research and studies.
In the 1960s, the field of psychoneuroimmunology emerged when psychiatrist Dr. George Solomon began to notice a direct link between emotions and the immune system.
”Mind and body are inseparable.” Dr. George Solomon, Former Chief of Psychoneuroimmunology at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center
In the 1970s, Herbert Benson studied how relaxation techniques affected blood sugar. On to the 1980s, when David Spiegel, the Director of the Psychosocial Research Laboratory at Stanford University, studied a group of women with breast cancer, speculating that stress reduction and social support would alter the course of their metastatic breast cancer treatment. His findings were that those who participated in supportive–expressive group therapy not only lived longer, but also experienced substantially less pain and a better quality of life.
“According to the mind–body or biopsychosocial paradigm, which supercedes the older biomedical model, there is no real division between mind and body because of networks of communication that exist between the brain and neurological, endocrine and immune systems,” said Oakley Ray, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University
Within the last 15 years, studies have been conducted on using group therapy, stress-reduction techniques and cognitive behavioral therapy on cancer patients, AIDS patients, and those who have undergone bone marrow transplants. One study focused on men who were HIV-positive to determine how their health was affected through cognitive behavioral therapy. Researchers believed that an improved emotional state reduced the viral load in patients.
“Now, it is widely accepted that sleep is healing, emotional stress can be dangerous, exercise and relaxation are therapeutic and that psychological well-being may protect one from disease.” – Dr. Peter Whybrow, Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
All of this research to point to the reality that our minds hold the ability to change our physical health. Through altering our thinking, we can shift our emotional state to one that allows for full body healing. However, when our emotional state is in dis-ease, our bodies suffer the consequences.
Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life and founder of HealYourLife.com, has taken this mind-body connection a step further and through studying the connections between our thinking and our health has narrowed down how certain emotions affect specific parts of our bodies. In the book, Hay outlines the causes of symptoms as well as affirmations one can use in order to heal themselves through the power of their mind.
What this means for empaths
As empaths, our emotional state is often fluctuating and, in many instances, we allow the emotions of others to alter our personal state and therefore our personal health. In toxic environments or areas of our life where we are frequently subjected to emotions that affect our own, these disturbances can grow to the point that they cause illness, ailments, and disease in our overall health.
Here is a list of common ailments empaths face based on their ability to absorb the emotions of those around them:
Back pain is growing more common in today’s stressful world, and empaths are no different. Each area of the back points to a different emotional meaning:
- Lower back pain stems from an imbalanced root chakra and is caused by fear, particularly over our financial situation and safety. (If you suffer from frequent back pain, you may benefit from the Root Chakra Cleansing Intensive.)
- Middle back pain is caused by guilt, a common emotion for empaths. Because of our ability to be aware of more than the average person, we feel responsible for more as well. Releasing guilt over things that are not under our control is a great way to begin feeling relief over mid-back aches.
- Upper back pain comes from a lack of emotional support or feeling unloved. Empaths frequently carry the burdens of others and feel as though no one is available to help carry theirs. This leaves them to juggle their emotions all alone, causing pain in the upper back.
Shoulder pain is a direct result of feeling as though you are carrying the world on your shoulders. Similar to upper back pain, empaths carry a great deal around with them day in and day out, lending to sore, stiff, or rounded shoulders.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is often a sign of a long term emotional problem which has gone unnoticed, suppressed, or ignored. Whether this emotion is our own or comes from a perpetual negative situation, it creeps in and affects our physical health, elevating blood pressure over time.
Chronic Nasal Congestion/Hay Fever
Any congestion in our nasal passageways is caused by emotional congestion, or feeling stuffed full of emotions. Through denying our own ability to handle the overwhelm of emotions, empaths begin to feel emotionally, and then physically, clogged.
Autoimmune diseases are the body’s manifestation of emotionally attacking ourselves. Feeling anger, lack of self-love, and believing we deserve to be punished are common for empaths who believe that something is wrong with them. Wishing you were different exasperates this self-attacking state.
High cholesterol is a manifestation of our emotional inability to accept joy in our lives. Because of our ability to see the woes and pain around us, we can often feel guilty for feeling good, thus blocking our ability to experience joy and causing emotions which manifest elevated cholesterol levels.
Frequently experiencing the common cold is a sign of mental confusion and overwhelm. By not taking the time to focus on ourselves and release all the emotions we absorb, empaths frequently experience a confused or clouded state. If you find yourself wondering why you are always sick, consider taking more time to meditate and release some of the mental clutter.
Gallstones are a sign of bitterness and condemnation toward others. If an empath does not take time to focus on self-care and instead allows their boundaries to be crossed, it is common to grow bitter toward those around us, including loved ones. If this martyrdom continues over time, gall bladder issues are sure to arise.
Headaches are a symptom of self-criticism. Emotionally attacking ourselves for who we are, how we think, or what we do leads to this physical manifestation. Invalidating thoughts like we aren’t enough or that we do everything wrong can lead to chronic migraines. (If you relate to this, you may find relief through the Crown Chakra Cleansing Intensive).
A sore throat or any throat problem is a sign of one’s inability to speak up or express emotions. Empaths tend to keep quiet as to not ruffle feathers, despite having strong feelings about the world around them. Feeling pain in the throat is the physical symptom of this inability to speak up for oneself.
Our current emotional state directly creates the physical symptoms we experience throughout life. As empaths, absorbing the emotions of another and taking them on as our own only further confuses this reality. By making it a point to notice our feelings and process them appropriately, as well as using the power of our thoughts to change our emotional state, even empaths have the ability to completely heal our lives.
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