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Monday, August 8, 2011

Psychoneuroimmunology - When the Body Says No

Psychoneuroimmunology??? What the heck is that?  It is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems of the human body.

Well, I just finished reading a book written by Gabor Mate titled, When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, and it has confirmed my initial belief that this yucky RA autoimmune disease is emotionally related, not just physi

He uses many stories and examples from people who have the same illnesses and found that a few common factors existed in all which are:

1. Childhood trauma / loss
2. Inability to say no / lack of boundaries
3. Repression of emotions especially anger
4. Serving everyone else but themselves
5. Lack of self worth and self awareness
6. Driven (to compensate for #5)

He also mentions that hidden stresses from our early programming, becomes a pattern so entrenched in our being that it feels normal. In other words, our minds don't even realize it; but our bodies are (well at least mine is) is crying out "no". 

Recently I've also explored professional counselling to seek healing from inside out. After a few sessions, I came to realize that I am always on guard as if I am perpetually in danger. Though my mind knows I'm not; my body still thinks I am and reacts. Hence anxiety level rises, my immune system is wonky and attacking, (except it's attacking the wrong thing, myself), and finally I end up judging myself. 

Both Gabor and my counsellor mentioned that self love and acceptance is crucial in the healing process.
One example in the book healed through daily practice of emotional self-inventory and of self-love that, little by little, "unfroze" each part of her body.  He dedicates a chapter on healing using 7 A's as acronyms for

1. Acceptance - Embrace our individuality and uniqueness, both strengths and weaknesses
2. Awareness - Be aware of our emotions, our bodies, our stressors
3. Anger - Allow anger to motivate healthy action
4. Autonomy - Develop our internal centre of control
5. Attachment - To allow and enjoy genuine emotional support from others
6. Assertion - To just BE, irrespective of action
7. Affirmation - To affirm our creative expressions and our connectedness (mine being today, writing)

Am I flaring now? Yes, my wrists are today, the question is Why? What is my body saying no to?
I guess it's something I'm going to have to ask, pay attention and listen for. 

No to self judgement and expectations
No to expectations from others
No to verbal abuse
No to hostile environments
No to demands from work
No to needy people

No No No!!!