Blog #3 – Memory vs. Forgetting

So many times in my life I’ve been told after something happens to me:

“Forget it!” “Put it behind you and go on with your life.”  “Don’t think about it!”But memories go deep.  Sooo, sooo deep—one on top of the other.Unfortunately, there really is no way to forget!  None!  Actually, we really only want to forget the bad memories—the ones with pain.    The good ones are those memories that keep us going, motivate and inspire us.  They help us through those tough times when we think we just can’t take it anymore!

What isn’t common knowledge is that not dealing with these negative memories (memories that cause you to feel pain/anger just thinking of them), still lay just beneath your conscious mind.  However, continuously pushing these memories below the surface of your conscious mind (the part of your mind that is aware of everyday thoughts and feelings) uses up a lot of your energy.  In severe cases (people with either a lot of negative memories or one really big negative memory such as sudden and unexpected death of someone important in your life, an assault to you or someone close to you (and there are all kinds of assaults), or as a child not feeling love from someone you think should not only love you, but love you unconditionally) the energy used to keep these negative memories out of your conscious mind can be strong enough to keep you feeling tired, keep you from being able to make good decisions to get on with your life, and/or keep you from healing to maintain or regain your health.

Having these feelings for extended periods of time does not always mean that you are run down, that your immune system needs boosting up, or that you lack the right vitamins!     It may be true that you need more sleep, more vitamins, and/or to take  some kind of stress management class.  However, it can’t hurt to consider the pressures on your mind—those in the present and those from your past!

Since they are in your subconscious, you wonder, How can I know what is in my subconscious mind?  Our minds give us clues.  Ever have a recurring dream? Ever go someplace, and for no reason at all you don’t like it?  Is there someone you don’t trust, but can’t figure out why?  Or just the opposite:  Is there someone you have a great desire to please, but don’t know why you feel this way?  How the mind works is so mysterious, and things (or clues) are not the same for everyone.  In addition, the clues are not always obvious.

The main idea of this blog is to help people understand that when we feel weak, run down, and fatigued that it may not be totally due to a physical condition.  It may be the result of an overload on your mind!  Sometimes people say that:  I take my vitamins, but they are not working. OR  I get enough sleep, but I’m still tired.  OR  I eat well.  But they still don’t feel right.  It could be due to both physical  AND mental reasons—a combination of factors!

When we are evaluating why we feel as we do, it is important to consider our mental and physical health.  Please remember, our bodies have many different connections!   Just as an aside note:  Each one of our teeth is affected by a part of the body.  That is why dentists are trained to spot over 500 diseases from conditions in the mouth.  Reflexologists can ease many illnesses by massaging specific areas on the feet.  Chiropractors can relieve stress in many parts of the body by adjusting the spine.  Not only are there different connections and cross-connections, there are different ways to promote healing.  And to make things more complex, a malfunction of the body can cause a mental malfunction!

Scientists have shown that the bodies of those people who have been diagnosed as bipolar, for example, cannot absorb a particular salt from the foods they eat.  That’s why it is rare for people who live in Salt Lake City, Utah to have this diagnosis.  People living in this area don’t have to extract this particular salt  from their food. The salt is in the water!

As I’ve said before, I do NOT advise that people stop taking their prescription medications or NOT to go to see their doctors.  I believe in working WITH my doctors to heal as quickly as possible, eliminating the need for prescription drugs as soon as possible.

I’m motivated to finding alternative ways of healing and causes of illness (dis-ease) because I suffer too many side effects from prescription medications.  However, even natural remedies can cause side effects!  Everyone’s body is different, unique.  What works for one person may not work for another  person.  And since our bodies are constantly changing (Every cell in the body has been replaced each seven years.  Before you ask—if the brain believes a cell to be damaged, the new cell will be replaced just as damaged!), what works for us one year may not work in another year.  More and more people are becoming allergic to something each year for the first time.  It is well known that our bodies cannot process or digest some chemicals (ie. pesticides, fungicides, herbicides) that are grown in our food supply.  There is a growing demand for organic foods (foods that are grown without pesticides, fungicides, and/or herbicides–chemicals that grow into the foods and cannot always be washed off.

There is good news:  Although there’s no way to forget memories, there is a  way to take away the pain of the bad memories.  Then they become just old memories that no longer have those automatic negative feelings attached to them – feeling those negative feelings whether we liked it or not; want to feel them or not!  This process is called reframing—the subject of Blog #4.

Blog-2…Disease

Blog-2…Disease

(dis-ease)

It is extremely important to understand the connection between disease and the mind-body connection.  First, let’s look at the word disease.  For a clearer picture of what the word disease (dis-ease) means, consider the following (meanings taken from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary: 10th edition):

Disbar – expel from the legal profession

Discomfort – lack of comfort, not comfortable, distress, grief, mental and/or physical, uneasiness

Discord – lack of agreement or lack of harmony

Discredit – loss of credit or loss of reputation

Disinterested – not interested

Disloyal – lacking in loyalty

Disorder – lack of order

Disease – sickness, malady, trouble, a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that                                      impairs normal functioning (causing  something to go wrong)

Ease – state of being comfortable, freedom from pain or discomfort.

 

Take a circus balloon shaped like a hot dog.  If you grab one end and squeeze, the other end gets larger.  No matter which end you grab and squeeze, the other end will get larger.  They are connected to the same space.  The mind and the body are like that balloon.  When you affect one, you affect the other.

It is not uncommon for a person to become saddened or emotionally hurt by someone one day, then become sick with a cold or a virus within the next few days.  This happens because when we become emotionally hurt it decreases our immune system—the ability to fight off diseases.  We are always fighting off viruses, diseases, etc.  Medical researchers tell us that we all even have some type of cancer cells in our bodies.  It is our immune system that keeps the bad (or abnormal) cells from growing and maturing, from taking over our normal cells.  The longer our immune system is affected by negative feelings/thoughts, the worse we feel and the longer it takes to get better.

Besides taking medications, one very important thing to do at this time is to think about what it is that caused us to become upset in the first place.  Just to not think about it, putting it out of your conscious mind, swallowing it, will not make it go away.  It is still there, deep in your sub-conscious mind.  It still bothers you, creeping into your conscious mind from time to time—reliving the moment(s) that caused you to become upset.  It’s like keeping those past moments in the present.  At times like this, to change your body’s reaction to what you feel, you need to reframe the incident(s).  (Reframing—subject of a future blog.)  For now, we’ll just look at simpler methods.

Let me give you an example.  I once knew a woman who complained to me that she was tired of going in and out of the hospital. For several weeks she was sick with one thing after another.  I asked her to think about the time before she became ill.  Without telling me what, I asked her if something happen to upset her?  She thought for a moment, then said, “yes.”  I asked her to think about what happened and look at things in a different way—a way that she could accept.  A week later I ran into her in the mall, happily shopping and feeling perfectly fine.

Keeping negative, hurtful thoughts in your mind (your thoughts or those of someone else) continues to have a negative effect on your immune system.  You want to get those thoughts, those feelings, out of your head.  Some people write.  Sometimes this works for me.  For example:  One day I had a phone conversation that left me absolutely furious!  I couldn’t do anything but pace around the room, muttering to myself.  I knew my blood pressure was dangerously high.  I couldn’t go to sleep.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone and take my anger and frustration out on them.  So I decided to write.  The following poem is the result of that day.

The Devil Is A Relative

Rage strong enough to kill

Is a nurtured and cultivated skill

Produced by cunning and pressure

Needled and twisted by someone’s pleasure.

 

 This person is surely not a stranger

Not one you’d associate with danger

Nor a friend who wishes you well

More than likely someone from hell.

 

Beware the two faces of kin

Smiling while plunging the knife in

Someone we’re taught to tolerate

Can with years of abuse

Transform love into hate.

After writing that poem, I felt such a release of stress!  It enabled me to get the emotions out onto paper instead of locked inside my head.

If it is a person who upset you, let you down, another way to get those feelings out is by writing that person a letter.  You don’t have to mail the letter, just get your feelings out onto paper—outside of you!  If there is someone you trust to keep your feelings to themselves, read the letter to that person.  I watched a woman in a Women’s Shelter read a letter she wrote to her husband.  He would come home from working as a policeman keeping her community safe, only to find any excuse to beat her before going to bed.  Her heartfelt letter explained how she felt, her disappointment, her pain, and her anger.  I sat next to her as she read her letter.  It was like watching a flower bloom, as while she read, her back straightened, her shoulders went back, and she smiled after sincerely yours.  Just being able to express how she felt enabled her to release so much stress.  Of course, it is also even more helpful when your feelings are validated by others, and you are given the support you want and need.

There is always aggressive sports, aerobics, swimming multiple laps, or even going on a cleaning binge of your car or home.  The idea is not to sit and brood, continuously bringing the past into the present, reliving those painful memories.

The incidents don’t cause the pain inside you.  It is your reactions to the incidents that cause the pain.  If a total stranger called you a bad name, you’d look at the stranger and consider that person crazy.  If someone you know and care about calls you that same bad name, your feelings are hurt.  It is your reaction that causes you to feel the pain.  Remember, although it’s not easy, you have the power to determine what you will allow to hurt you.  You always have that power!

PNI…Psychoneuroimmunology

PNI (pronounced psych-neuro-immunology) is my passion!  It is simply the study of the connection between the mind and the body.  Learning about this connection is what saved my life and gave me back quality of life—not just remaining alive.  It is my intention to share with you what I’ve learned, my experiences, the experiences of others, and about the power we have and often give away.

Without realizing it, we already accept this concept.  For example:  We say, “Don’t scare a pregnant woman, because you may hurt the baby.”  Fear is in the mind, yet it produces physical changes in the body.  When frightened, people’s bodies release powerful hormones  (men and women, pregnant or not).  We experience what is called the fight or flight response.  Our hearts beat faster, our blood pressure rises, and we are prepared to either fight or run!  These powerful hormones pass from the mother’s body, through the placenta, into the body of a rapidly developing little human baby.  In a college biology class, we experimented on a frog.  We dropped only one drop of epinephrine (a powerful hormone) on the frog’s heart.  Its heart immediately started beating rapidly.  Under these conditions, it seems very possible that some part of the development of the fetus could go wrong.

Another example when people say about someone with a Type A personality, “Don’t tell so-and-so because he’s liable to have a heart attack!”  Experts differ on the traits of a person with Type A personality.  However, most would agree that such a person is impatient, always short of time, is often aggressive, upsets easily, and as the saying goes, has a short fuse.  Such a person may already have a problem with rising blood pressure or other health issues.  Perhaps this is why studies in various countries around the world have shown that more heart attacks happen on Monday mornings—the beginning of the work week—than at any other time!  By comparison, the shortest number of heart attacks happen on the weekends!

I see my brain as MY Brain.  I see my body as MY Body.  And I am the BOSS!  There are many connections between the two.  All of these connections are influenced by many things, both within and without our bodies and minds.  There is no ONE connection.  This is what makes us humans different; causing different reactions to the same things, and resulting in different ways and lengths of time to heal when sick.

At age 70:

  • My blood sugar is under control naturally
  • My blood pressure is under control naturally

Looking back to when I was very young, I feel that it was destined for me to look to natural things to help heal the body.  Some people go to the doctor and say, “I don’t feel well,” expecting the doctor to know what to do to make us feel better.  We’re given a battery of tests, blood work, sometimes X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs.  The doctors do this to help them identify what is wrong.  Most of the time, it helps.  However, when I was growing up I often had bouts of pain.  The pain could be anywhere:  my eyes, my throat, and/or my joints, but mostly in my abdomen.  I sometimes doubled over from the pain.  Not finding anything wrong, my doctor diagnosed depression.  He gave me B 12 shots!  I soon learned (if I could help it) not to bother anyone about my pain.  I used my mind to conduct the pain outside of my body.  It sounds unbelievable, but I was desperate to rid myself of the pain. (Imagery—subject of a future blog)  Once I was sent to a psychiatrist, who diagnosed that I was in pain because I was not married!  (And he got $75/hour for that diagnosis!)  One doctor I saw in my early 20’s (a gastroenterologist) admitted to me that he knew something was wrong, but he just could not figure out what it was.  I believe it was the not knowing; the fear of what it might be that increased my pain.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s that I found out it was sickle cell!  This is something with which I was born, and for which there is no cure.  Since finding out my diagnosis, I studied and read what little I could find.  Sickle Cell is not high on the list of priorities for research.  However, I did learn that anyone with ancestors from the Mediterranean could inherit sickle cell—no matter what race they may be (Sickle Cell—subject of a future blog).

After suffering from the flu one year, I was deaf in one ear.  Instead of taking me to the doctor, my grandmother pulled out a box of little bottles from under her bed.  She put a liquid on a cotton ball, and then stuffed it into my ear before I went to bed.  The next morning my hearing was back to normal!  Unfortunately, my grandmother would never discuss what she did that night!

Since the original treatment for lupus did so much damage to my digestive system (although that was 18 years ago), I’ve developed many allergies.  The side effects I’ve had to medications are too numerous to count!  I only take prescription drugs when absolutely necessary.  Using my mind to help control my body has become more and more important.  I’ve learned to watch what I say to myself (Self-Talk—subject of a future blog).  Words are powerful.  Barbara H. Levine wrote a book about just how powerful words can be:  Your Body Believes Every Word You Say.  Reading her book helped me become aware of what I was telling myself, telling my brain—reinforcing the negative instead of being creative and finding positive alternatives (CAM—complementary and alternative medicine—subject of a future blog).  For example, taking pain medication and continuously telling yourself that you are in pain only makes the pain medication have to work that much harder—not only to overcome the cause of the pain, but the medication also has to overcome the directions to your brain that you are feeling pain!

The concept that there are natural ways of healing is not new, and has been around since the beginning of time.  What is new is that we are capable of using the power in our own minds to effect changes in our own bodies!  Our mental powers can be used along with natural ways of healing as well as with our doctors’ prescriptions!  And no one needs a degree to do this!  I studied all the way up to completing half the work needed to earn my Ph.D. before cancer stopped me.  It is now five years that I have been cancer free.  When struck by illness, I tell myself that this is merely my next challenge.  I am the Boss of my brain and body!