How Your Thoughts, Emotions and Physical Reactions Are Connected
It’s natural to be faced with difficult circumstances from time to time in your life. Storms roar into your life and tear apart your healthy sense of self, leaving you wrestling with ideas and beliefs that limit how you think and behave.
More and more research is showing us how stress, pain and emotions are connected. We’re realizing how our thoughts and emotional responses are influenced by the demands of a particular situation. Powerful, overwhelming physical and emotional events can change the function of your brain and nervous system and affect your muscles, digestion, blood pressure and other bodily systems. Author Dan Siegel coined the term “triangle of well-being’ to describe the interconnection between mind, brain and relationships.
You don’t notice these changes since they occur on a neuro-psychological level and you’re not conscious of them. But the effects are obvious: they keep you repeating unhealthy patterns that affect your daily life in negative ways.
That’s why it’s critical to your overall wellbeing, including your physical health, to develop healthy patterns of response that improve the quality of your life.
This is the goal of clinical counselling – to help rebalance your nervous system so you increase your ability to respond to challenging events with flexibility and resilience.
Self-Regulation Therapy (SRT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Critical Incident Stress Management
'Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.' - Rumi
Why You React The Way You Do – Even If You Don’t Like It
Research show us that the structure and function of your mind and brain are shaped by your experiences, particularly those evolving from emotional relationships.
At any time in your life, an overwhelming event can change your nervous system and affect how you respond or relate to others, or how you feel. It can also affect your overall sense of wellbeing. Your life is full of memories and thoughts of your experiences. The nature of these thoughts determines the state of your mental health and physical well-being. Your body responds one way to feelings of happiness and wellbeing and in a different way to fear, sadness or terror. Memories that evoke intense emotions and sensations can cause you to relive that event emotionally or through sensations in your body. It doesn’t matter if the event just happened or if it took place months or years ago.
Your habitual reactions to today’s situations may have begun in childhood. If you felt safe and secure with your caregiver, this will be reflected in how you engage with others. People who had a positive attachment figure frequently feel more confident and deal with stress and conflict with more resilience. How we come into relationship with others can be altered in a positive or negative way by our previous experiences. If your attachment to your caregiver was unpredictable or unsafe, making it difficult for you to form a secure attachment, this pattern creates a template for your adult relationships.
How you communicate and the signals you send to the other person are all connected to your past experiences. Often these patterns of social interaction become habitual and affect the quality of your life whether you’re aware of them or not. Your interactions with others in turn shape your mental world.
Becoming aware of your patterns of social connection provides an opportunity to transform confusion into insight and self-blame into self-compassion.
How Can You Transform Your Experiences Into Insight, Balance and Self-Compassion?
The answer is that through awareness, knowledge, and skill-building, you can make adjustments that enable you to shift into a more positive state of mind.
Like plants, your thoughts need to be fed and cared for in order to grow. Yet so much of ordinary thinking lapses into habitual patterns with little variation from one day to the next. These thoughts influence the conditions in our life.
The activity and configuration of your brain is shaped by how you focus your attention. By harnessing your ability to focus your attention, you begin to create important shifts in the function and structure of your brain. You develop new neural pathways that create flexibility for you to manage daily challenges and stressors. This process – using the power of attention to change the activity of the brain – is called neuroplasticity.
Working with the body can help you to integrate unresolved events or painful experiences from the past as well as helping to regulate how you process thoughts and emotions. Your ability to build relationships improves too, and adds to the quality of your life. Working with your nervous system to integrate traumatic events brings the nervous system back into balance. This work is based in neurobiology.
By connecting the relationships of the mind and body, this approach integrates talk therapy with body experience. When you begin to make sense of your experiences, you can extract meaning from the event and you can begin to heal.
A final thought to ponder: you can’t be peaceful when you’re in a state of confusion, fear or emotional upset. These daily challenges can provide an opportunity for change and personal growth.
Would you like to begin this process? Let’s begin by having a conversation.
Take a first step. Contact me at 250.881.1806 to request a free fifteen-minute in person meeting to answer any questions you may have or go here to use the form on the “Contact” page.