by Eunice J Minford MA FRCS Ed, Consultant Surgeon, N Ireland
A simple observation highlights to me the importance of the difference between what we feel and what we think, particularly when it comes to health. The world we live in gives precedence to the intelligence of the mind and/or the brain without taking full cognisance of the intelligence of the body. Thinking and thoughts are associated with the mind/brain and much weight is given to the acquisition of knowledge and information and the cognitive disciplines in education and professional life. In contrast, feelings are often dismissed or ignored or over-ridden. They may be negatively associated with emotions or a so-called ‘emotional person’ or someone being too ‘touchy feely’ as opposed to the rational, logical thinker. Certainly as a child I was lead to believe that feelings were somewhat irrelevant; I was not encouraged to express what I felt but instead learned the opposite. I thought it was good to be the ‘strong silent’ type who didn’t disclose feelings or personal matters. Everything was always ‘fine’ no matter what was really going on.
Whilst thoughts may appear to arise in the mind, feelings come from the body and are the language of the intelligence of the body. When I do a ward round in the morning, I ask patients “How are you feeling?” not “What are you thinking?” if I want to know what is going on for them and their wellbeing.