Sunday, 19 February 2017

Got inflammation? Maybe you're angry ..

or frustrated, or suffering from a build-up of feelings you just can't face. So you hid that stuff in your belly, where it's gumming up the works. Or your joints. Or just under your skin.

In other words, it might not be your food choices or your gut bugs or your histamine levels being out of whack, or whatever the latest theory on health happens to be. It might be - and please note that I say might be - an emotional issue.

I'm not saying it's all in your head (no, it's not in my head it's in my knees!). I am saying that if you have tried "everything" and nothing works, or it works for a while and then it doesn't, you might want to look into your heart.

 Did you just click through to read more? Cool.

There are plenty of professionals who you could go to to guide you through the process of unpacking all the emotional baggage you've gathered along the way, and if you're lucky, you'll find someone who can really be of help. But - as you probably guessed - I'm not convinced that's the best way to deal with our 'stuff'.

All these professionals are trained in a certain school of thought, a certain set of assumptions and expectations, not all of which are going to be a good fit for your particular issues. Appointments with these people are constrained by time, too - an hour is NOT enough time to work through the heavy stuff. Hearing "time's up" means you just have to push that tantalising near-insight you're close to back down into the depths of the psyche for another week til you can be back in the office of your (paid) guide. I cannot tell you how counter-productive that sounds to me.

What follows is a few methods and tricks for digging through your own psyche. Think of them as games, you don't have to take any of this too seriously. The rules are simple - everything goes and anything is possible. Just play with the theory that there is an emotional basis to your physical difficulties as if it might be true, not that it is. We're not expecting to find facts here, we're opening up to possibilities, that's all.

You'll need a note book and pencil.

Here's one method I like - when a symptom flares, instead of asking "what did I eat or do to cause this?" ask "what have I been thinking about?".

I know that sounds ridiculously oversimplified but you'd be amazed at how straightforward the messages our body sends us can be.

Here's another trick - find a diagram of the chakras on the human body and locate your aches & pains or trouble spots. Dig a little deeper into what each of these chakras are associated with, emotionally. Acupuncture meridians is another good one to work with. Draw 'maps' of your body. Use pencil crayons, so you can do it in full living colour. (Black pencil on white paper just can't express what you'll want to express.) If you can, number your issues in order of appearance. Which came first, chicken or egg? Think back to what was going on in your life when you first noticed each issue, if you can remember. Be creative, think freely. It's just a game!

This next one looks silly and shallow at first glance but wow, it sure can be revealing, especially of hidden anger. Take your time with it - mine is taking weeks - and give it lots of thought. You can do it in point form, but you'll want to leave room between points for notes. Ask yourself:

What do I love?

What do I hate?

Who are my heroes?

What are my favourite books?

That's an exercise from Stephen Harrod Buhner's "Ensouling Language", a (brilliant) how-to book for writers. (I'm reading it for the second time because it's just so well written.) It's not only writers who benefit from getting to know what makes them tick, and simple as the above may seem it can tell you a lot about what's going on in your ticker. It's cheesy sounding, yes? Heroes, really?? What am I, 12 years old?

Even how you feel about the lists' titles is revealing. Not 'who' you love, but 'what' - trickier than you might think. As for that hate list, a lot of people will try to wriggle out of that one. The internal dialogue can go something like this:

"But I don't hate anything!"

"Really? So you're okay with war, then?"

"Well, no, not really .. but .. it doesn't touch me in my daily life."

"What about cruelty, you okay with that?"

"No one is cruel to me. I'm not cruel to anyone."

"Never? No one has ever been cruel to you? Then go on back to your 'things I love' list and put 'I love that cruelty never touches my life' in there."

Hate is one of those button words that most people don't even want to go near, but if you don't have hate then you really don't have feelings, and I think you probably do have feelings. If we're going to be honest with ourselves, we're going to have to face the stuff that pisses us off. That's what hate really is, the stuff that pisses us off and we just won't tolerate in our lives. But lo and behold, that hate list can show us that we are, in fact, tolerating some stuff we shouldn't oughta be tolerating.

If you find conflict as you do your lists, congratulations! Big clue, conflict. Lots of meat on that bone.

Why do the list of favourite books if you're not a writer? I think for some of us, those books will offer more clues to the loves and hates lists. For others, it's a chance see where we got some of our dearest held beliefs. And even to admit to ourselves that we're maybe not as deep - or shallow - as we thought we were (both are okay). I've got "Heidi" on that list, how's that for fluff? And "Briefing for a Descent Into Hell" .. that's one deep book, lol. The book list gives us some perspective on how complex we are, how our tastes in books reflect both our changes and the things about us that don't change.

Heroes - I'm still stuck when it comes to that list. There are people I admire but I have yet to find one who isn't flawed in ways I certainly wouldn't want to emulate. But that's revealing, too, right?

Okay, enough of that one. Next up - puns!

"Body-language" can be very punny. Years ago (decades in fact) I used to get a sort of charlie horse in my right buttock, but only on weekends. Odd, right? Then a friend of mine pointed out what a 'pain in the ass' my ex was being every time he picked up or dropped off the kid. ha!

So, some possibilities:

loss of appetite - what are you fed up with?

shoulder pain - is the weight of the world on your shoulders?

stomach problems -  you just can't stomach it?

constipation/diarrhea (either) - are you perhaps (or do you think yourself, or has someone you trust told you that you are) full of shit?

skin rashes, various - irritation! or perhaps you've been told you're too thin skinned? you need to 'toughen up'?

weeping eczema - are you, in fact, sad? do you have unresolved grief?


The punning technique works best for those pop-up, 'what fresh hell is this?' type symptoms. Not dangerous, but maybe a little alarming. But sometimes they're applicable to really serious stuff. Susun Weed, in her book 'Menopausal Years the Wise Woman Way', writes boldly about this in relation to thoughts about suicide among 'women of a certain age'. I think this could apply to anyone going through a transitional period in their lives. Here are a couple of snippets:

"Like uncontrollable emotions, thoughts of suicide are normal for menopausal women. Remember that the death phase of this menopausal initiation does not imply actual physical death. Yet it would be foolish to deny that the feeling of dying can be as real as if it were actually happening.

There is a disturbing physical/emotional logic to thoughts of suicide .. If you feel like taking a gun to your head, you may need to learn to open the crown chakra. It you'd like to end it all by taking pills and passing out, you may need to admit to your exhaustion and take a rest. If you were to cut your wrists (cut off your hands, symbolically), what would you no longer need to put your hands to?"

Most of us are pretty complex critters, emotionally. Once we start asking ourselves questions we'll find layers of responses. Give yourself permission to dig through those layers like its a treasure hunt. Sometimes you might find yourself among dragons, but think of it this way - they are your dragons, they can help you. Dragons have a nose for treasure, and the more smoke they're blowing, the richer that treasure is likely to be.

Whatever your issue, treat it and yourself with loving kindness, please. And if none of this applies to you, if, say, speaking your truth (clearing the air) doesn't stop your recurrent sinus headaches, at least you've spoken your truth.

Oh, and one more thought. Don't ever let anyone fob you off with the expression "it's just stress". Stress is awful and should never, ever, be belittled with a word like 'just'. So often we're told we have to find ways to "deal with" stress, like it's inevitable. Or like it's our fault that we can't cope! The above techniques can be helpful to us when we're searching for the source of the hidden stress in our lives, whether current or decades old. And when you know where it's coming from, you're half way to rooting it out once and for all.


  1. Thank you for this post, especially for the final paragraph. I'm saying it is "just" stress to myself, I just realized. Huh.

    1. So glad to hear that was useful to you Angie.