When your inner dialogue stresses your body
I’m stressed out. I should sign up for the photography class. I can’t work on this - it is stressing me out. I should not do her work, it just makes her look good and I don’t get the credit I deserve. I can’t take this stress!
In The Language of Emotions, Karla McLaren explains that when we hide behind the term stressed-out we don’t have to investigate our behaviors or thoughts. Our should thoughts run through our minds leave us feeling “stressed” and drive our behaviors - with a side dish of guilt and anger for contemplating the thought in the first place. Mmm, Mmm good!
McLaren notes, “stressed-out” is an unacceptable description for our emotions because stress is a physics and engineering term, “Defined as a pressure, pull or force exerted on one thing by another, or the internal resistance of a thing to the external forces applied to it.” Stress relates to inanimate objects. Yet we use the term stress to describe our feelings, our lives, our relationships, and ourselves. If we use the literal meaning of stress then our should thoughts are a pressure, pull or force exerted on our body and spirit. Our body shows internal resistance to our private struggles often in the form of a sore neck, tight muscles, indigestion, headaches, cravings to shop, eat, veg-out on the Internet or watching TV. We often become unconscious to the body trying to get our attention. In the meantime, our spirit becomes dampened and weighted by the external force stress applies upon it.
MacLaren's words made a lot of sense to me.
I was on maternity leave and the day before I was to return to work I reached for something on the floor, sneezed and my back gave out. I mean completely gave out. I was not lifting anything. No external stress whatsoever. Internal stress – private struggles - yes. I was frozen in a reaching position. I could not stand up right. Could not walk. Could not sit – for three weeks. I half-crawled half-wobbled up the stairs, lifted my three month old son from his crib and wobbled further to my bedroom where I maintained the most comfortable position possible – lying on my side - for three weeks. Sitting caused extreme pain like someone holding an open flame (the blue part of the flame which is the hottest) directly on the nerve in my thigh. I still wince from the memories. I was given muscle relaxers and waited for my back muscles to relax enough for me to sit long enough to go to physical therapy. The three weeks with my son was a true blessing. Those memories make me smile. However, over the next 3½-years I tried physical therapy, massage therapy, swimming, yoga, meditation, water arthritis therapy, and several consultations with an orthopedic surgeon for back surgery. Medications were futile (that is if I wanted to remain fully alert and aware). My walking was laborious and I was more than sick and tired of being in pain. The pain affected everything in my life. No one knew what was wrong. Nothing showed on x-rays, scans or any other tests I was subjected to. Relief came 3 years and 3 months after the day I sneezed myself into a full back spasm, when a 5-element acupuncturist treated me. The focus of the treatment is the balanced connection between body-mind-spirit. I slowly began to make connections between the stress-ridden situations in my life and my consistent pain. My body was sending strong signals. I wanted to be healthy so I started listening. Listening, making changes as needed and listening some more was my road to being pain free – for more than 15 years now and counting.