For the most part, we live in an emotionally illiterate society and are not practiced in expressing and receiving feelings. We often feel embarrassed or vulnerable when talking about certain feelings. We silence ourselves so we might not hurt someone about how we feel. Ironically, we end up hurting our bodies and souls when we withhold what we feel and want.
We hurt our souls when we negate our emotions because emotions are there to let us know that a choice or situation does or does not match what is right for us. Feelings connect with the ability to notice and trust our gut reactions. When we don’t fully feel we become detached from our intuition and we may begin to question our ability to make the right decision.
When we don’t express feelings and wants they show up in behaviours such as gossip, sarcasm, blaming, displaced anger, the silent-treatment, lying and compliance. These actions show a passive-aggressive style rather than an assertiveness mode of communication. Unfortunately, many of us were not modeled or taught this healthy way of communication.
Although most physicians agree that emotions play a role in the aggravation of existing physical disorders, it is not widely accepted that emotions actually cause the physical disorder. Dr. John Sarno, author of, The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders, outlines two types of psychosomatic disorders, those caused entirely by emotions (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, allergies) and those caused in part by emotions (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, cancer).
Our body gets diseased when stressful feelings are not expressed. When one is chronically stressed, as when feeling any intense negative emotion such as sadness, anxiety, and especially anger, increased amounts of stress hormones such as cortisol are released. These prolonged periods of elevated levels of hormones cause arteries to stiffen (arteriosclerosis) and increase the occurrences of fatigue, colds, bronchitis, congestions, cancers and rheumatoid arthritis.
Our personality influences the way we handle emotions. Cancer specialist Dr. W. Brodie and many other researchers have linked the Type-C personality, characterized by the suppression of anger and resentment and by a strong tendency to be nice, non-assertive and people-pleasers, to a higher incident of certain cancers (e.g., breast).
If we are risk-takers, we may be more likely to partake in a lifestyle which has less emphasis on healthy choices (e.g., diet, smoking, alcohol, attending medical check-ups, etc.)
Physician Gabor Mate’s book, When the Body Says No, and his informative videos (drgabormate.com) are great resources for emotions-disease theory. Babette Rothschild’s classic book, The Body Remembers, links trauma/abuse with disease.