By Anne Malatt and Paul Moses, Australia.
When someone walks into a room, we know how they are feeling.
We can feel it with our whole being, and we then confirm it with our five senses.
If they are angry, we feel it first. We then see it in their facial expression, in the way they hold themselves hard and the way they move and walk, we can hear it in the way they bang things down or stomp their feet, we can smell and taste it in the air we breathe and we can touch it if they come into contact with us, but most of all we just feel it.
And we can react or respond in different ways.
Most of us tend to tense up, contract, and go hard ourselves, in an effort to protect ourselves from what we can feel is coming at us. We may be on edge, ready to fight, or flee. It may bring up memories and feelings in us of when other people have been angry with us, and may even have hurt us, or those we love.
Whatever our reaction, it can be very challenging to stay open and loving with someone who is behaving in this way, no matter how much we may love them.
So, can this anger be contagious?
Can this force affect us physically, just as much as if it were a bacteria or a virus?
And can the way we react to it, the dis-ease it creates in us, in fact be the underlying cause of illness and disease?
Is it possible that if we harden or contract in the face of anger, our connective tissue, muscles and joints may stiffen up, leading to inflammation, fibromyalgia, or arthritis?
Could our blood vessel walls harden, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease?
And how about the ways we deal with anger? It is an uncomfortable emotion to feel, and we don’t like feeling uncomfortable. Most of us have developed ways of living that reduce or numb these emotions – like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or eating certain foods, particularly dairy, sugar or carbs. And could all the consequences of these behaviours stem from the fact that we did not want to feel uncomfortable in the face of anger or other emotions – be they our own or those of others?
It may be challenging to think of emotions as being contagious as any virus, but what if they are?
What if the diseases that we label as ‘random’, ‘bad luck’, or even ‘genetic’, are in fact a result of the dis-ease we experience, every day, day after day?
What if our way of dealing (or not dealing!) with the ill-at-ease we feel every day – and can never stop feeling, no matter how hard we try to numb ourselves – is in fact the underlying cause of our illness and disease?
Could this ill-at-ease be the tension we feel, that we label as stress in our lives?
We are living in a sea of emotions, all day every day, at home, at work, in relationships, in life. Try as we may to numb ourselves, we can never stop feeling, and if we do start to feel that the behaviours we are using to numb ourselves are hurting us, and try to stop them, all the uncomfortable feelings that we have been trying not to feel are there waiting for us. No wonder we have trouble giving things up and letting things go!
So how can these emotions that we feel, that we consider a normal part of everyday life, be the underlying cause of illness and disease?