What I am about to say may seem shocking to some but obvious to the many who have suffered greatly at the hands of chemical substances. We are all aware of the harmful chemicals that we are exposed to everyday from the toxins in the air to the toxins in our drinking water. But have you ever wondered if toxins can cause mental and emotional issues?
As a clinical psychologist, I have spent decades of my life in research study, and I am here to tell you that you cannot separate the mind from the body. It is impossible! I personally believe that we are 3 part beings- spirit, mind and body and what affects one affects the others.
Furthermore, I will say that I entered into the field of psychology because I was on a quest for my own personal healing and at one point in my life, I thought I could help save the world through the use of medication. What a grandiose belief! Thank goodness, I no longer hold that view.
I have experienced over 20 years of my life heavily reliant on prescription drugs (antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications) primarily used to cope with the psychological symptoms that I was having. I remember first experiencing these symptoms at a very young age beginning sometime around the sixth grade.
The panic attacks and phobias began during my high school years, along with the broken relationships and extreme social anxiety that I experienced. I would have described myself as an extremely timid young girl whose doctor might have labeled “neurotic and sickly.”
Even though it would take a book to detail all my experiences growing up, I will, in short, describe the major lessons that I learned in the process.
I learned that experience trumps education and the more that you tell your story, the greater the validation by those people that have suffered as you have suffered.
Don’t misunderstand me, I do not underestimate the value of a good education but sometimes what you learned along the way may not be totally accurate. This is where one must be open minded and teachable.
I have always had a curious mind and that is what led me to some of the things that I discovered.
Back to the mercury and mental health disorder connection. I will say that many years of study taught me the importance of assessment and most of us would agree that science matters!
Recently in my research, I came across something that totally began to change the way that I viewed mental health. Through my experience, I had discovered that belief systems were extremely powerful and would affect how we felt and behaved. Furthermore, I knew that there was a direct connection between mental illness and nutritional deficiency. Nevertheless, what I overlooked was the strong connection between mental illness and heavy metal toxicity, particularly mercury.
In my healing journey, I discovered something that I had never heard throughout my years of education. It was regarding an occupational syndrome called the “Mad Hatter’s Disease.” You may have heard the term because of the character in Alice in Wonderland. Honestly, I have never seen the movie so I cannot attest to his behavioral characteristics.
As I delve into the study of this disease, I discovered that it was a condition developed by hat makers, in France during the early 1800’s, brought on by their continuous exposure to mercury.
According to the following video, Mad Hatters Disease, you can see how the exposure to mercury was shown to cause a variety of emotional and neurological symptoms.
With my knowledge of mental health disorders, in addition to my own personal experience, I can clearly see the link between mercury toxicity in the following categories of “mental disorders.”
Anxiety Disorders (Panic disorder, Social Anxiety, OCD, PTSD, Phobias, etc.)
Mood Disorders (Depression, etc.)
Bipolar Disorder (formerly called Manic Depression)
Schizophrenia (Paranoid, etc.)
Eating Disorders (Anorexia and Bulimia)
Somatoform Disorders (Hypochondriasis, etc.)
Personality Disorders (Borderline personality, Antisocial personality, Avoidant personality, Dependent personality, etc.)
This list shows some of the more common mental disorders that could be directly linked to mercury toxicity. This obviously does not include all of the neurological disorders that are believed to be linked to mercury toxicity as well.
Over the years, there seems to be mounting evidence between autism and mercury vaccines although as we all know, it is highly controversial. On the other hand, there are many people, because of their own personal experience, will never be persuaded that vaccines do not harm our health.
I am not writing this blog to alarm people, I am only writing it because I am passionate about mental health and I want to empower people to take charge of their own health. Once we become aware of truth, I believe that it is our personal responsibility to educate others. Knowledge is power and has the ability to save lives.
Although I received a master’s degree in clinical psychology, I soon discovered that my real passion was to teach, both at the high school and college level. My 15 years of teaching experience taught me that there were many factors influential to learning and knowing what I know now, I often wonder about the effect heavy metal toxicity had upon some of my past students. Today, I question, what impact could mercury have on a student’s ability to actively listen, concentrate, comprehend and behave properly?
I personally witnessed many students who struggled with attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorders, depression, addictions, etc. to the point that they could no longer remain in school. Because we don’t know any better, we quickly assume that the student’s behavioral issues are the result of poor parenting and not biologically based.
Learning is key and if mercury toxicity interferes with a student’s ability to process thought rationally, then we now have a whole new issue to address.
In my strong opinion, the health issues that most people deal with today, with the exception of faulty thinking, are based primarily upon 2 sources, nutritional deficiency and chemical toxicity. If you have not seen the documentary “The Beautiful Truth,” check it out on Youtube. It is an eye opening video! The good news about our health, both physically and emotionally, is that we can reverse many ailments simply by eating healthier, correcting deficiencies with nutritional supplementation and detoxification.
The effects of mercury on health clearly depend upon several factors including individual sensitivity, length of exposure, sources of contact (inhalation, ingestion, and dermal). Although there are many sources of mercury exposure in the environment, I believe that the most harmful effects come from what society personally can control. Those primary sources are the following:
Dental Amalgam Fillings (aka silver tooth fillings)
Seafood, particularly shellfish and large fish (tuna, swordfish, shark, etc.)
There have been a series of small clinical studies performed and several books written to support the link between mercury and illness. Because of my passion to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, I advocate that more clinical studies be done to put the controversy to rest.
From an environmental perspective, you may wonder if I believe that mental illness is primarily the result of heavy metal poisoning? I will only say this, the influence of toxic chemicals (mercury, lead, pesticides, prescription drugs, OTC drugs, food additives, etc.) certainly have a great impact upon the way we heal, both emotionally and physically. The body is designed to heal itself with a healthy immune system. Unfortunately, toxins in the body compromise the immune system.
Once our ability to naturally process thought is adversely affected, every part of our lives (emotionally, mentally, physically, socially and spiritually) can be negatively impacted.
In conclusion, I will leave you with this thought. It is one thing, as an adult, to make decisions regarding our own personal health but it is quite another when those decisions affect the lives of children. Let us all advocate for a brighter future!
For more information about the effects of mercury, check out the World Mercury Project and the advocacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Albert Einstein once said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that we used when we created them.” I have yet to meet someone who has never struggled with anxiety and/or depression at some point in their lives. It is high time that we get rid of the stigma that keeps so many people suffering in silence. It is time that we changed our thinking about psychological issues.
I decided to write this blog about anxiety and depression because I am highly passionate about helping others to both understand and overcome mental/emotional struggles. I want people to know that there is hope and I do not believe that we were created to continue to suffer with debilitating dis-eases or “disorders.” I hesitate to even call them psychological disorders because I really oppose labels although I understand the purpose for them.
I consider myself an expert in the field of mental health not just because I earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology but mostly because of what I have personally experienced and the tremendous amount of research that I have done to help myself. I understand what it feels like to have debilitating depression, panic attacks and phobias, that years ago nearly left me bound within the physical walls of my home.
You may be wondering why I have entitled this blog “the misaligned man.” Have you ever been in excruciating physical pain and went to a chiropractor for an adjustment, and afterward, felt like a new person? Well if you have experienced this, you will understand that your body was out of alignment and it needed to be put back in proper working order.
Our physical bodies have certain needs in order to function at the optimal level. Those needs involve things like deep sleep, clean water and air, proper nutrition, hormonal balance, etc. Often times, our body is simply deficient in certain nutrients and once these nutrients are restored to the body, we will begin feeling much better. I truly believe that there are nutritional deficiencies that can create all kinds of emotional issues like increased anxiety and low mood.
We must first educate ourselves and begin to understand how certain things function in our bodies. For example, our endocrine system, which is made up of glands like the pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and reproductive organs (ovaries and testes) have major roles to play in how we feel. If any one of these glands are not functioning properly, this can create all sorts of havoc with our metabolism, moods and sleep schedules. (I am not a medical doctor but as a psychology professor, you cannot teach about the mind without teaching about the body…they are connected!).
Mind Body Connection
Just as our physical body must be in proper alignment to function optimally, the same holds true for our minds or mental/emotional body. A major eye opener for me happened about 5 years ago when I landed in ICU for a GI (gastrointestinal) bleed caused by aspirin and the h-pylori bacteria in my intestines.
While in the hospital, one of the attending physicians came in to check on me. I only saw this female Asian doctor one time and she walked over to my bed and looked me straight in my eyes and said, “do you know what your problem is?” I was a little caught off guard as I curiously replied “no?” She said, “IT IS EMOTIONAL!” What in the world was this lady talking about? I clearly had physical symptoms (gastritis, diverticulitis, h-pylori bacterial infection, food sensitivities etc.).
Interestingly, you will likely not hear a medical doctor in our Western hospitals talk to you about emotional problems unless they cannot find anything physically wrong with you. Also, I don’t believe that it was a coincidence that this doctor was of Asian descent, most likely having some knowledge of Eastern medical practices.
Since that time, I really began to change my perspective about my history of depression and anxiety and the childhood traumas that had affected my physical body in such profound ways. I can remember having shingles when I was in grade school after the sudden death of my father. I can also remember my mother taking me to doctors because of stomach and bowel issues but they never could find anything wrong with me. I literally thought I was “crazy.” Then the physical symptoms would eventually develop into full blown panic attacks and phobias. (By the way, I despise the word “crazy” because it is often used to refer to people with emotional problems, precisely why talking about mental health is so difficult).
Since my experience with the Asian doctor, I have intently researched how trauma and thought patterns affect the emotional and physical body. There are several interesting discoveries that I have made along the way regarding my own healing. This is precisely what has led me to develop a holistic model of education that addresses all aspects of the person: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I know that any topic of a spiritual nature can be a controversial issue for a lot of people and I am not in a place to judge anyone’s spiritual beliefs, I only know what I have personally experienced. Many people believe that science and the spiritual do not mix but if you do the research, there is increasing scientific evidence that show the benefits of faith and prayer/meditation. Benefits that show how it can help people with physical ailments like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and a compromised immune system. The practice of meditation has also been shown to help people focus and become more mindful and aware of the present, which can have all kinds of emotional benefits.
As you can clearly see, there are various distinct parts of us that are interconnected and affect our lives in so many ways. When we feel good physically, our thoughts tend to be more positive. The reverse is also true, when we focus on positive thoughts, we feel good. Furthermore, when we focus on loved ones and the beauty all around us in nature, we tend to feel more grateful and gratitude makes our world so much better!
I will continue to write more about this topic as it is central to all that WAY Education holds to be true. E-books will soon be available through our website @ wayeducationservices.com. Our focus is on educating the public and providing holistic literature and resources on health and wellness.
As a psychology professor, I have taught for years regarding mind/emotion and its effect on the body and vice versa. Remarkably though, most of my students still had a tough time distinguishing between the brain and the mind. First let’s be clear, THE BRAIN AND THE MIND ARE NOT THE SAME!
We have been conditioned to believe that our minds (thoughts, emotions, will, memories, perceptions, etc.) are in the brain but research is discovering that, in fact, our thoughts exist throughout our bodies particularly in our center (gut). There is clear research indicating the gut brain connection.
Hippocrates once said that “all disease originates in the gut” and all means both physical and mental. Furthermore, research shows that there is a link between gut bacteria and our emotions and thoughts. Studies done with mice have shown that gut bacteria affect thoughts, emotions, food choices and even the PERSONALITY!
Until recently, most medical doctors in the health industry have been primarily focused on the physical aspects of our health. Most physicians have not been trained on the psychological connection to the body. Within the past few years there has been a big shift toward holistic health because it deals with the whole person, not just the physical body.
Patients are beginning to educate their medical doctors about their mental and emotional health as it relates to their physical health. For most physicians, the only treatment they know comes in the form of a pill or surgery. People are needing answers and therefore they are reaching out to their primary doctors for emotional support. It is no secret that general practitioners (those not trained in mental health) have been writing prescriptions for antidepressants and anti anxiety meds to the masses for years. The question then becomes, how is it affecting the physical health of the patient?
More people are discovering that the answer does not come from a quick fix medication that often adds more problems to the mix. I can personally attest to this. To take the antidepressant or not to take the antidepressant, that is the question. Every person needs to decide that for themselves without judgement! As a society though, I believe that we are at a crossroads. Do we continue to listen to the advice of the medical industry or do we take matters into our own hands and become our own physicians? Many people are already choosing to do what is best for them. We all need to do what works for our own health and the health of our loved ones.
Diet and Mental Health
The evidence is there and if you are among the many that have begun to change your diet and eat more plant based food (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc.) you have most likely experienced the benefits on your emotions. Plant based foods affect our moods! Therefore, it doesn’t take a scientist to see that there is a clear connection between food sources and our emotions. Understanding how this occurs is another subject.
Influence of Gut Bacteria
In my research studies regarding the effect of gut bacteria on personality, I came across something that was very interesting. According to PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections)
The disorder occurs when strep triggers a misdirected immune response results in inflammation on a child’s brain. In turn, the child quickly begins to exhibit life changing symptoms such as OCD, anxiety, tics, personality changes, decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating, and more.
This information really got my attention and it probably just got yours. Personally, I know that it is true because of my own experience with anxiety/depression and the constant cycle of my streptococcal bacterial infections. This in turn led to a constant string of antibiotics which ultimately hurt my body more than it helped. People are now asking, “what else do we use for infection besides antibiotics?” Many have discovered the healing power of plant based foods, herbs and essential oils to eliminate infection in the body. (I am not a medical doctor, I am a clinical psychologist who specializes in education on natural medicine). I can only tell you what I have discovered through my own personal knowledge.
I had a very interesting experience about 5 years ago while recovering from a gastrointestinal (GI) bleed that landed me in ICU for 2 days. Shortly after getting out of the hospital, I was taking a triple antibiotic cocktail used to get rid of the h pylori infection in my intestines. I basically had such a reaction from the antibiotics that every time that I ate, I had to run to the bathroom. It worried me because I could not keep anything in my stomach for a few days and this prompted me to seek the advice of a pharmacist. He referred me to a probiotic and after taking a few pills, I noticed an immediate change. I began to keep the food in my stomach.
What was rather bizarre about that experience had to do with my mental status. I felt a sense of overwhelming freedom and wellbeing that I cannot remember feeling since I was a child. I had always struggled with a sense of apprehension in some form and for a few days, that feeling of worry and uneasiness was completely gone! Obviously, the feeling came back but it really got me thinking about what the gut bacteria had to do with my emotions. It was an eye-opening experience!
CHANGE OUR THINKING, CHANGE OUR LIVES
If we are struggling to get well, both physically and emotionally, it is going to require us to change the way in which we view mental health. There are root causes to our health issues! I have always been confused by the notion of “mental illness” which led me to analyze my own question,“how come there are no ‘cures’ for mental illness but there are ‘cures’ for physical illness?” Think about it, is that even true? If that were true, why are we still getting sick from “illness?” Dis-ease is dis-ease, it doesn’t matter whether you call it physical or mental disease…it’s the same thing!
There is such a mentality, particularly in this country, that chooses to separate everything, label them and put them in a box. We need to wake up to the fact that the mind and the body are interconnected! What affects one, affects the other! It’s like having a person with “multiple personality disorder” commit a crime, which person do you send to jail? (We have changed the name to Dissociative Identity Disorder because we realized how silly it was to label someone as different people in the same body). It is one person with one mind, simply that!
As you can clearly see, I am very passionate about holistic health because it affects our quality of life and our happiness. When our health suffers, everything and everybody around us suffers. Let’s get on a mission to advocate for the truth about health, every aspect of it!
The future generations need to know the truth about health and given the hope that healing is possible. For most of us, it’s a journey but we know that we are on the right path!
Have you ever watched a movie and became angry, fearful, sad or even cried? Of course, we all have! It happens all the time because movies are great at tapping into our inner world of beliefs and emotions. Science has shown us that what we perceive through the senses have a profound influence on our bodies. Something that you may have heard of called “Fight or Flight” has a tremendous effect over our lives. When we perceive some danger or threat, whether it is real or imagined, our bodies physically react by preparing us to go into survival mode. It is human nature to preserve the self.
"FIGHT OR FLIGHT", A GIFT OR A CURSE?
Imagine if you see a grizzly bear while walking in the woods one day. Your immediate reaction will likely throw your brain and body into survival mode and all kinds of bodily processes will activate. Science tells us that the limbic system, primarily something called the amygdala, is activated. Someone who is merely shown the pictures of fearful faces of other people will have this part of the brain activated. In other words, observing someone that is fearful can cause a fearful reaction in you as well, even if it’s only in the brain.
In the case of the grizzly bear, it is obviously beneficial to act against the threat of your life, whether by becoming physically still or running away. You may have heard of cases whereby small fragile people gain incredible human strength to lift cars or other heavy objects to save someone’s life. This is primarily because of the massive rush of adrenaline that is released within the body. Your body has natural built in chemical responses for a reason. If we didn’t go into survival mode, we may die, therefore you can see how this can be a lifesaving gift.
As we can see, we all have been affected emotionally from the observance of others whether in real life situations or in movies. Now let’s focus on the emotion of fear regarding phobias. Phobias are extremely common and can be hard to deal with in life, although the fear is not based on reality. We know that people who have a phobia of spiders will react emotionally when they see a spider, even if it is fake but they believe it to be real. Interestingly, it makes no difference whether the thing feared is real or just perceived to be real. Clearly, we all know that fear is very powerful and has the ability to protect as well as paralyze us. Just as it can be lifesaving, it can also cause some serious problems throughout our lives.
TRAUMA RELATED FEAR
Let’s examine a person who has grown up with a history of trauma within their family of origin. Trauma could be anything from the death of a loved one, physical and/or emotional abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, substance abuse, etc. Trauma is either experienced because it directly happened to you or experienced through witnessing other people affected by it. Children, still within the stages of physical and emotional development, who experience trauma can develop certain patterns of thinking based on that experience. This is precisely the reason why many people who have had past traumatic experiences seem to stay in a mental cycle of “Fight or Flight,” sometimes even specifically referred to as panic attacks. It is like living with that grizzly bear every single day and just learning to cope with it because they don’t know what else to do. Science even tells us that it not only affects the mental processes but also the bodily processes even at the cellular level. The state of a person’s mind can change their body by working through the Central Nervous System, the Endocrine System and even the Immune System.
THERE IS GOOD NEWS!
So does this mean that a person who has experienced childhood trauma is damaged mentally, emotionally and physically for life? Absolutely Not! Psychological and behavioral therapies, medicine, exercise and nutrition, yoga, essential oils, etc. have all been shown to aide in the healing of the mind and body. Even people who meditate and pray have had positive results with healing trauma, although science is just beginning to take notice.
As stated previously, the state of mind changes the state of the body. Therefore, if the mind has the power to affect our bodies in a negative way, it also has the power to affect us positively. It works both ways and that is great news!
For example, laughter has been shown to release feel good chemicals like endorphins which can strengthen the immune system and decrease stress hormones. You probably have heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine!” There are actual “Laughter Camps” being held all over the world. In India for example, some prison guards and policeman are sent to these camps just to laugh in order to promote their health and well being. The laughter camps may look foolish and bizarre but they are proving helpful by reducing the negative effects brought on by highly stressful jobs. You may ask “how does my body benefit from forced or fake laughter?” Well it happens just like the real vs. imagined fear response, your body doesn’t know the difference!
Since we are aware of the mind body connection, we may question, which part is more influential, the body or the mind? That is a question that science is slowly beginning to answer.
My personal experience has taught me that the body affects the mind as well as the mind affects the body although I believe that the mind is the true source of the things that go on inside the body. For example, when a person experiences mental/emotional trauma, it not only alters their state of mind but also the condition of their brain and body as well. Science has proven this therefore we cannot separate the mind from the body.
EMOTIONAL STRESS AND THE BODY
There is clear research to indicate that emotional stress has a tremendous effect on the body. The question becomes, is stress harmful or helpful? If you ask the question, most people would say that stress is bad for you. Interestingly though, through my own studies I have come to realize that not all stress is bad and can even be viewed as good. There is a name for good stress, it is called “Eustress.”
According to Merriam Webster, eustress is a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. If you think about it, some stressful events like planning a wedding, having a baby, getting a huge promotion or taking a vacation, all have some form of stress involved. Although they can all be stressful events, they also can bring much joy and happiness to our lives. The interesting thing about stress is that it can be used to help us or hurt us and that depends on the way that we look at it.
PERCEPTION IS KEY
A few years ago, one of my psychology students sent me a video that changed the way that I perceived stress in my own personal life. According to this YouTube video on Ted Talk about stress, a study was done that tracked 30,000 adults in the U.S. for 8 years. According to this study, something great was discovered.
What researchers found was that 43% of those participants were found to have an increased risk of dying due to stress. More importantly, the researchers also discovered that those same participants only had an increased risk of death because…. THEY ALL BELIEVED THAT STRESS WAS BAD FOR THEM! If you want to watch the video CLICK HERE.
As a psychologist who is interested in health and the affect that thoughts have on our health, this study really got my attention. Do our thoughts and beliefs have the power to cause disease? If you believe this study, the answer is yes!
THOUGHTS AND PHYSICAL DISEASE
More studies are being done and we are discovering how the brain and the body interact. When most people think of the brain they also think of the mind but they are not the same.
The mind involves many aspects like thinking, emotion, attitude, memories, our will, etc. On the other hand, our brain is an organ through which thoughts are transmitted. According to MedicineNet.com, the brain is a portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It functions as a primary receiver, organizer, and distributor of information for the body. It has a right half and a left half, each of which is called a hemisphere.
Through my studies, I have come across some profound teachings concerning the impact of thoughts on our health. It is education that may seem unbelievable to someone that holds a strong opinion to the contrary.
One of the teachings that I have come to believe is that most, if not all, of the physical disease that people encounter come from a person’s thought life.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology and a BSc in Logopedics and Audiology, specializing in metacognitive and cognitive neuropsychology, has made some groundbreaking discoveries in mental health.
Dr. Leaf has written many books, including one entitled Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health. According to Dr. Leaf, the vast majority--a whopping 75-98 percent--of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. She also states that 87-95% of all mental, emotional and physical illness is a direct result of our thinking and that 98% of cancers come from our thought life.
You can imagine the opposition that she must face from those in the medical field, who believe physical disease comes from environmental influences, diet, infection and genetics. I believe that there is much more to the equation. Based on experience, I personally believe that toxic thinking causes physical changes of toxicity in our bodies. Furthermore, I believe that you must deal with it at the root level if healing is to occur. The root is the mind.
If you believe that thoughts create emotions and emotions affect our physical health then you might tend to agree with the teachings of Dr. Leaf.
OVERCOMING THE MENTAL STIGMA
More people are realizing the impact that our thought life has on our health and science is disproving some of what the medical model has taught us for years. We have become more open minded concerning our health. With the promotion of natural medicine and spirituality, there is much more hope that healing is possible. My motto is “do not accept a diagnosis of disease unless you are also told that you can be healed as well!”
Finally, one last thought that I would like to suggest. If we are to believe that the source of physical disease stems from a mental source, can we further conclude that everybody that has ever lived could have been considered mentally ill at some level? Let that thought sink in for a moment. If you can grasp it, then you must agree that our society should adamantly reject the whole stigma of mental illness. Let’s face it, we all have stuff, most of us just don’t want to admit to it because of the shame and disgrace associated with it. In fact, a major part of the healing process comes from revealing what has been hidden.
A teacher and personal mentor of mine by the name of Dr. Ed Smith, Founder of Transformational Prayer Ministry, has often stated, “it takes a lot less energy to admit that we are a mess than to pretend that we are not!”
Remember the old Fruit Loops cereal commercial that said, “follow your nose, it always knows?” Since we often learn and recall through association, it is the first thing that came to my mind as I began to research Essential Oils (EO) years ago. Honestly when I first heard about the benefits of EO’s, I was a bit skeptical but that all changed when I began using them for myself! As a psychologist who has studied and taught about the power of human sensation and perception, I understand why the sensation of smell is so connected to our feelings and emotions. Because of this knowledge and my personal experience, I am educating you on the reason why so many people are taking notice of these extremely helpful natural substances.
Think about a specific smell that recalls a special memory from childhood and it will surely put a smile on your face. That is the power of smell! It is one of the fastest ways to boost our moods.
This is how it works with Essential Oils. The aromatic molecules of the EO’s travel through the nose to the Olfactory bulb which is linked to the limbic system (often called the “seat of emotions”). This is where emotions like fear, sadness and anger are activated. There have been studies done with brain images that show the effects of triggered emotion on the amygdala in the limbic system.
Since our emotions affect our health in so many ways, wouldn’t it be great to use something known to support optimal emotional health?
When we have daily stressful experiences like sitting in heavy traffic, we tend to feel uneasy and frustrated. This is just one example among many whereby we can become stressed out throughout our daily lives.
Since I personally have dealt with a lot of emotional stress in my life, I have extensively researched ways in which to relax, reduce stress, heal my adrenal glands and of course, sleep better. I have tried everything from prescription sleep aides to over the counter medication. The things that have helped me the most are vitamins/minerals, herbal supplements, teas and essential oils. The greatest thing about natural remedies like EO’s are that they have no side effects! The biggest reason that people stop using synthetic prescription medication is because of the intolerable side effects!
People are waking up to the fact that the best medicines come in the form of food and natural substance in the earth. Essential oils are distilled oils from actual plants!
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. There are in fact two things, science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance. Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity.”
With anxiety and depression on the rise in our society, I personally see the need now more than ever to find ways to promote emotional health. Some of the research is now saying that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability!
I have personally spent a great amount of my personal time researching and experimenting with some of the best oils to combat anxiety and depression. There are 4 scents that I personally find the most beneficial. I have added them to my blog below…keep reading.
There are many ways to use essential oils to support a positive mood. You can add a few drops of your favorite oil to water and diffuse. All you need is EO, water and a small diffuser!
You can use them in every room throughout your home, particularly in your bedroom or office. The living room is also a great central location to diffuse and just relax after a long day at work. I absolutely love the atmosphere and the mood that they create!
Many people use EO’s topically on the skin. I personally mix a drop or two with roughly a Tbsp. of coconut oil (called a carrier oil) and rub it directly on my skin. Most of the time I will put the mixture on my stomach to help with digestion or just to relieve stressful emotion. (I like to use peppermint and ginger oil for digestive support). The stomach is often called the second brain and for good reason. Why do you think we hear people use the phrase “I have a gut feeling?” It is because emotion has a direct relationship with our gut.
Another popular way to use EO’s is to put a drop or two in a tub of warm water, light a candle, have a glass of wine and say “Calgon take me away!” (I just thought I would add a few of your favorite accessories to the mix).
There are several other ways to use them. For example, cleaning, disinfecting, in toiletries like soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and deodorant and personal items like homemade cologne. Now you know why I am so passionate about these natural oils, they are simply amazing! Literally, God’s gift to mankind.
If you have never used EO’s for emotional support and you don’t know where to start, I recommend the following Essential Oils (Bergamot, Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Ylang Ylang). I have found them to be the best single oils for helping to alleviate anxiety. Another favorite of mine is Lemongrass, the smell immediately soothes the mind. If you do the research, you will find that these oils are commonly used in therapeutic blends as well. I encourage you to give EO's a try. When choosing a good quality EO, always look for reputable companies with organic and therapeutic grade on the label.
What does it mean to self sabotage? It usually means that you are unintentionally doing something to slow or stop something from happening. Most often it has to do with struggling to achieve some sort of goal. The goal could be anything, whether it be a personal goal to lose weight or a professional goal to write a book. You probably can relate to these goals, but do you ever wonder what keeps hindering you from achieving or maintaining your goals?
For example, let’s take one of the goals previously mentioned. Let us examine the goal we all can identify with, the goal of losing weight. Say we want to lose 10 lbs. and we can’t quite seem to stop eating all the sugary sweets that keep us from losing weight. If you stop and analyze it, you simply see it as a behavioral thing. You believe that if you could just stop eating the sweets or have enough self-control to resist, the pounds would quickly drop off. That very well could be true. Aside from having any medical or physiological issue that may make it more difficult to lose the weight, sometimes the only thing that keeps us from acting and getting the desired results is simply one thing and that is….deciding!
Think back on substantial changes that you have made in your life and didn’t they all involve a clear decision? If someone is not attaining their goals, it is usually because they haven’t taken the first key step to make up their mind to do something come hell or high water!
What’s Your Trigger?
Now this is where it gets interesting, because once you decide, then comes the testing. If you are introspective you will pay attention to your triggers and learn a little something about yourself in this process.
Ok, so you decide that you will replace sugary snacks with healthier ones like an occasional fruit smoothie for example. Everything is going along fine for a few weeks and you have already lost about 5 pounds, which is encouraging, and then something happens. You get emotionally triggered and without even thinking, you go to your favorite ice cream store and get carried away. Or maybe you go out and have a few adult beverages that you wouldn’t normally have on a week day, but after all, you have a good reason. It’s okay because you have just had one of the worst days of your adult life, or so you tell yourself.
At this point, stop and recognize that the ice cream or the drinks are not the issue here. It really doesn’t matter what the behavior is, the real issue is the underlying trigger and the source of it. First, there is always a stimulus, maybe your boss yelled at you and you reacted with hurt or anger because you know that you didn’t do anything wrong.
Well since you can’t control what your boss does, the issue now is your own emotion in this situation. As much as we all want to control other people’s thoughts, emotions and behavior, we simply cannot. But the interesting thing about our emotions is that we have control over them (even though sometimes it really feels like we don’t…ugh!) and when we change the patterns of emotions, we get better results from our environment.
So, the question now becomes, “how do I change my emotion?” The only way to do this is by getting to the root of our emotions and that is always found in our thinking! Although changing our thought patterns may seem challenging at times, it is always beneficial for us. The evidence will be a sense of movement in our lives as we start to recognize that we are progressing forward.
Cycle of Blame
It is so easy to look outward and blame our environment on the “negative” things that happen to us personally but if we begin to train our thinking to look at the good in every situation, it’s easier to accept change. (I am obviously referring to conflicts within our personal/professional relationships and not something like a tragic event that we may experience in our lives). Often when we get stirred up emotionally, it is connected to a personal self sabotaging belief, something we believe about ourselves.
Some common examples of self sabotaging beliefs would be the following:
I am not good enough (good could mean smart, pretty, talented, etc.)
I don’t matter
I am unlovable
I can’t do anything right
I am a failure
I am bad (something that I heard many times from troubled teens)
I could go on and on but you get the point here. The important thing is to remember that everybody has self-doubts and most likely we acquired them through the relationships with our primary caregivers, whether that be parents, guardians or whoever influenced us the most during our formative years. (Now that you know where it came from, don’t start blaming all over again…lol).
Once you have identified the patterns of thought, you can begin to shift the way you see things. When you start to take a different perspective, and take ownership for your thoughts, things will begin to move forward in a more positive manner instead of always feeling like you’re stuck! Don’t you just hate that stuck feeling when you can’t seem to break out of the cycle of your circumstances? There is something to learn in this place and it usually requires a change in us.
When we are feeling stuck it’s usually because we are in a state of resistance. I have found that most resistance stems from fear. We fear the outcome, what we may discover, we fear the possible loss, we fear the pain, etc. Have you ever heard that the letters in FEAR stand for False Evidence Appearing Real? They are actually just lies that we believe about ourselves. We must stop believing the lies! I know, much easier said than done. On the other hand, there are practical things we can do to shift our thinking but that is another blog.
The important thing to remember is when you are triggered emotionally, look inside and pay attention to the thoughts that create the emotions. What are you thinking that makes it so painful?
When you have a goal and you cannot seem to attain it no matter what you do and it appears as if you are just procrastinating, ask yourself two questions, “have I made up my mind to accomplish this goal?” and “what am I afraid of?” This may very well start you on a journey to discover the real source of your emotions and behaviors.
So, if you have been blaming outward circumstances or people for why you haven’t achieved your goals, maybe it is time to do some soul searching. Your life can be as wonderful as you want it to be but not if you are always looking outward. That is not where your answers reside.
Thousands of years ago, the great Greek philosopher Socrates stated that “an unexamined life was not worth living“ and emphasized how important it was for one to “Know Thyself.” I can only imagine what he would say if he were alive today and saw most of us struggling in a constant state of self sabotage.
Do you ever wonder what sets the successful person apart from the average? There are many studies in psychology that discuss the influence of certain personality traits and level of IQ as it pertains to success in life. But there is something else that determines happiness and success. Simply put, it’s your own personal growth and development, pointing to the level of your emotional intelligence.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage your emotions well. People that are always “flying off the handle” would be considered to have a lower level of emotional intelligence. They are obviously not very good at handling their emotions. These people are so used to acting out of their emotions that they never take the time to slow down and find out what triggered the behavior in the first place.
How Do You Increase Your Emotional Intelligence?
Increasing emotional intelligence starts with awareness. The way to manage your emotions is to start becoming aware of your triggers or reactions to certain stimuli, and begin to look for emotional patterns that will eventually lead to thinking patterns. We feel or have emotions because there is an underlying thought or belief that triggered that emotion. Furthermore, we are usually never upset for the reason that we think.
Self-examination is the key to developing a higher level of emotional intelligence. Most of the time the emotions that give us the most trouble involve anger, fear and sadness. Unfortunately, most of us find it easier to look outward and blame others for the behavior instead of slowing down and looking within for the true cause of the emotion and behavior.
Therefore, taking responsibility for our emotions is the way to bring about positive change in ourselves and in our relationships.
How Does Growth Begin?
If you are willing to slow down and work on what you can control, which is your own emotions and behavior, then you will have the opportunity to discover what underlying patterns of thinking create most of the havoc in your life.
Thoughts and core beliefs create emotion and emotion in turn create behavior, whether the behavior is non observable (passive) or observable (words and actions).
BELIEF/THOUGHT ====> EMOTION ====> BEHAVIOR
Let me give you an example of how this works. If you make plans for dinner with your significant other and they show up 20 minutes late to the restaurant with no text or call, most likely you will be somewhat upset for the lack of consideration. Well, let’s first be clear, I am not condoning inconsiderate behavior, I am only trying to provide you a new way of looking at emotions. Did you ever slow down to think about what preceded the emotion of anger in that situation? Maybe you thought to yourself “he/she is being completely selfish” instead of realizing what you might be saying is “he/she hurts my feelings by triggering a thought that my time is not important and therefore I am not important.”
Root Causes of Thoughts, Beliefs and Mindsets
Now we are getting down to the root of the emotion. Most often this type of self-belief started in our childhood and we just never realized how it impacted our lives. It always comes back to something within ourselves and how we are interpreting the situation.
Most conflict between people come about because of their own perception based on experience. This leads to misunderstandings between two parties that see things through their own lenses. The only way to combat this is to do two things. First, be willing to take ownership of your emotions in the situation and second, be willing to communicate your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes we would rather keep those insecurities to ourselves because it is not always easy to be vulnerable. The truth is that everybody has these self-beliefs and can do something about them. First you must increase your ability to recognize unwanted thoughts that lead to undesired emotions and behaviors, thereby increasing your level of emotional intelligence.
My Personal Experience with Emotional Intelligence
As a former public-school teacher, I often taught this approach in my psychology classes and applied it when it came to handling discipline issues with students. Most importantly I used this approach with myself when I was triggered emotionally. The outcome was always positive, resulting in better relationships and an overall better learning environment.
By using this approach in education for the past several years, I observed one very interesting thing. Generally speaking, high school students were much more willing to look at themselves and take ownership for their thoughts, emotions and actions than were the adults. On the other hand, by no means is this a teacher issue, I believe it is a generational issue. Younger people tend to be more open minded than the older generation. It makes perfect sense because the older we get, the more we tend to be stuck in certain ways of thinking.
Whether you are a student, an educator or a stay at home mom, it makes no difference, you can always increase your level of emotional intelligence. The question is, do you see the value in it or are you perfectly satisfied with your current relationships? More importantly, are you satisfied with the relationship that you have with yourself?