How we hurt ourselves with reaction

by Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, Australia

The science of psycho-neuro-immunology has been showing us a lot about ourselves – that we already know from our own bodies and life experience – but often pretend we don’t.

The nervous system (which includes the brain), the immune system and the hormone system all talk to each other, and take their cues from each other about how to ‘behave’, how to respond.

Stress releases hormones that affect our brain and immune system. Stress alters how many of what kind of immune cells are made, and imbalances lead to illness. Stress suppresses our immune system’s killer cells – we are therefore more susceptible to cancer and other diseases. Stress also tires out the systems that produce the hormones – like the adrenals – leading to exhaustion.

Three important regions of the brain are affected by stress hormones, and those brain regions are important for memory, learning, dealing with life, thinking, making sense of the world, fear, emotion, fight and flight…. so it’s definitely not a good thing for them to be continually stressed!

Of course some ‘stress reactions’ are very important: fear makes us run out of a burning house, avoid violent people, savage dogs, venomous snakes, spiders and things that can hurt us; suspicion keeps us safe from foods that might make us sick; anxiety and tension on a crazy-busy road might lead us to choose a quieter, safer route; worry about something might make us get up and take needed action, etc.

One of the worst things about stress reactions is that the relevant body systems work in a feedback loop that can keep itself going, even when no longer needed. So, once we start down the stress and emotional reaction path, we keep feeding it, making it worse, ‘deepening the groove’. Then it’s difficult to get out of that vicious cycle. We basically program ourselves to be and remain stressed. So it’s necessary to put some work and commitment into changing the way we react to situations and people and to ourselves.

The bit about “changing the way we react” is super important. We tend to think stress comes from outside and the blame lies with someone else or some situation beyond our control. But the biggest form of stress is how we ourselves react to the situations and people that we say ’cause us stress’. Ultimately it is we who choose to get or stay angry, sad, impatient, frustrated, worried, scared…. and it’s thus we ourselves who can change it.

One of the worst forms of stress (in my humble opinion) is negative internal talk, about others and about oneself. It usually comes from comparison and/or jealousy. Things like: I’m no good. I can’t do that. She’s pathetic. They cheated me. I always stuff it up. I’m an idiot. She’s prettier than me. What did I go and do that for? I’ll lose everything if I do that. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m weak. She’s going to attack me if I say anything. He gets all the attention. No-one loves me. I wish my nose wasn’t crooked. I should be earning more money. He’s always angry at me for no reason. She always projects her stuff onto me. I’m a disappointment to the people I love. Etc., etc., blah blah … We all do it.

BUT … we react physiologically to our own thoughts and emotions! Our brains hear all the internal talk, and think it’s true, and obediently initiate the stress reactions through the hormone, nervous and immune systems. Snap! We express fear, hate, loathing, disappointment, self-negation, etc., and our body wilts like a mistreated plant.

But if we refuse to listen to the internal chatter, and allow ourselves to feel and express our natural love, understanding, patience and acceptance of others and ourselves, we can send beneficial effects flowing throughout our physiology.

For me this process of learning to feel, love and accept has opened up and accelerated as a result of my study of esoteric medicine, as taught by Serge Benhayon. However no amount of ‘head knowledge’ does it, although that supports me while I develop and practice new understanding and awareness of my body. It began when I learned how to become aware of when I was racy and ahead of myself, then to stop and breathe gently. This helps me to feel my whole body and listen to the wise things it has to say. From there I can choose and move in a way that honours my body, moment by moment. It’s an ongoing process – there’s always more to learn and higher levels of awareness possible. Worth the effort!

We are our own worst enemies. We make ourselves sick. And we can also be our own greatest friends, and bring ourselves back to true health.


Read more:

  1. Reaction versus response
  2. Why are we so reactive? 
  3. Bullying – what does it truly mean?

1,014 thoughts on “How we hurt ourselves with reaction

  1. Imagine that what was in our heads was shared out in the open for all to experience. Initially I’d say the world would be a much more depressing place but what I’ve found is that if I voice the thoughts they no longer have any power. They fizzle out pretty quick.

  2. The power of our life is always at our hands. ‘Ultimately it is we who choose to get or stay angry, sad, impatient, frustrated, worried, scared…. and it’s thus we ourselves who can change it.’

  3. This is a great blog to ask us to consider what goes on when we have this negative chatter going on in our heads. And we can say no to these thoughts but it seems to creep into our bodies even though we are saying no. It’s as though we are being washed in negative thoughts which our bodies soak up. We then move which then cements the negative chatter into our bodies and hey presto the thoughts are there spinning round in spite of our efforts to not think negative thoughts. Where do these negative thoughts come from? We now know they come from outside our bodies, we are saturated with them and they become so familiar to us we accept them as our thoughts when actually they do not belong to us at all. Is it possible that if we were taught from a very young age to read the energy that surrounds us, we would not be so inclined to let in the negative energy and own it as ours, instead by observation let the negative energy pass through, if this were to happen what effect would that have on our bodies?

  4. Dianne, this is a great reminder and appreciation of where I have come from. This internal destructive dialogue of others and myself was debilitating. You wouldn’t do it to a baby so why do it to ourselves.

    Roll on a few years and my dialogue is much healthier, it may not be perfect, but I can honestly say it has certainly improved. I now clock when I do this things, and what could have caused those thoughts to seep in. I look at my food, the tiredness and how have I have treated my body, with hardness or something else.

    These things is what I call holistic, so not only looking at foods and drinks but the emotions we pour into our bodies too. We have a long way to understanding the body but we can go a long way to doing something about it too.

  5. The internal negative talk really can be a source of significant stress, it is like watching a movie where you get involved in the story and your body lives all the reactions and stress as if it is real, thoughts can do the same thing. I have recently been seeing this in my own life and how it plays out to impact on me.

  6. It seems that it is no-one else’s business because it is internal yet a way of talking to ourselves in that way then filters out to be the normal for talking to and about others. All the while our body, which is made of Love and is more attuned to harmony struggles to deal with the acidic nature of our thoughts, words and, in turn, actions. In time this acidity starts having an impact on our body and its harmonious internal workings; as illness starts to reveal itself, we start to take notice.

    1. Lucy I agree, we may do this internally and yet people can feel it, as well as absorbing it into our bodies. We have a responsibility to play our part and play for the team too. This supports everyone to also receive the reflection to be responsible too.

    2. Lucy I agree, we may do this internally and yet people can feel it, as well as absorbing it into our bodies. We have a responsibility to play our part and play for the team too. This supports everyone to also receive the reflection to be responsible too.

  7. When I read the impact stress has on our bodies I realise the importance of looking at why we get stressed so we can deal with stress in a different way.

  8. I agree with you about the negative internal talk being the biggest stressor. It’s one thing that keeps going on and on and on unlike an actual event or a situation, and on top of that, we think we are conjuring up those talks and start hating ourselves for that. And the connection you mention here with the physiological factor is very important, because when we can change the quality of our movement, what goes on inside our head does change without discipline.

  9. When we start opening up our awareness we begin to build a deeper and more caring relationship and steadiness with our body and listen to how it is constantly communicating the truth of our inner feelings so that we are far less likely to react in situations and instead read and observe what our body is telling us to know how to respond.

    1. I agree Linda we are not taught to build a relationship with our bodies, we have set up life to look outside ourselves for answers, but now we know that the answers are within us, not outside of us as we have been taught for thousands of years.

  10. Always a fantastic read Dianne, very supportive and foundational for life. I agree wholeheartedly with this “But the biggest form of stress is how we ourselves react to the situations and people that we say ’cause us stress’.” It’s very true, it’s not just what happens in life but how we react. This is really demonstrated by different people reacting differently to the same situation.

  11. Any form of reaction feels very uncomfortable in our body and this should be enough to put us off reacting to situations but it can often feel like we react faster than we can think. What seems to make sense of this for me is that the way we live, move and express may already be aligned to a reactionary energy, so therefore when situations arise we are more likely to react because we are already living in reaction. So, if we live with an energy that is void of reactions, the fiery energy, then we are less likely to react to situations.

  12. “We are our own worst enemies. We make ourselves sick. And we can also be our own greatest friends, and bring ourselves back to true health.” The way we talk to ourselves and care for ourselves is reflected in our body and brings the opportunity to be our own general practitioner of life.

    1. Yes, and sometimes the way we talk to ourselves can be very abusive, cutting and denigrating, yet we often would not speak to others in that way. When we repeat this enough, we can wear ourselves down and cause damage that we may not be aware of.

  13. The more astute we get about energy the more we realize how much the effects of reaction devastate our body and being and how much and how long it takes to fully recover. Then it is that we may wake up to the fact how much emotions are harming and contributing to illness and disease, not just psychosomatically but physically/medically.

  14. I think we actually first and foremost are affected by the energy we choose to be in and then the thoughts come as a result of that, but our body is already in this state first because of the energy we choose to use. That is energy of love or of not-love.

  15. It is so liberating to not feel any reaction in the body when finding oneself in situations where there once would have been a strong physical reaction, as a result of living in way that responds to what the body feels.

  16. There is a lot that we do know about the workings of our body that we ignore so we can act like we don’t know. Then science has to step in and show us an aspect of how our bodies work. We instinctively know that stress reactions aren’t good for our body but because many of us use it as a way to keep going, we ignore the impacts. We have also lost touch with our natural state of stillness. If we had this as our norm then the stress reaction would stand out very clearly.

    1. We lose the true marker of living a harmonious life enjoying our inner stillness with a sense of ease in our bodies, so we may instead feel we are doing well with low to moderate stress levels instead of high.

  17. “But the biggest form of stress is how we ourselves react to the situations and people that we say ’cause us stress’. “ The more connected we are to our inner selves the more solid our foundation becomes, and the less we get affected.

  18. It’s very cool that science is catching up with what we have innately known or actually do innately know but often turn our back on because it’s true we do have to put some work into changing the old patterns and feedback loops. We can be very lazy in this regard – to our own detriment of course. How awesome we feel when we begin to take up the reins and make new pathways that nurture, nourish and support us, creating a whole new body of love, a love that cannot help but ripple out to others and potentially grace them also.

  19. Purpose is the greatest liberator for when you have true purpose you don’t have time and energy to waste by indulging in emotions and irresponsible thoughts.

  20. What a brilliant article Dianne. It only makes sense that our mental state impacts the physical state, it’s impossible for them to be spare for they are so deeply connected.

  21. I so agree – it is often the reaction to my first reaction that stays and keeps affecting me, and that is often how I get caught in what appears like ‘dealing with my stuff’ but really in truth is just digging my heels in.

    1. So, if we tend to react to situations, does this mean we are actually reacting to ourselves first? I reckon it is because it just makes sense.

  22. We can think ourselves sick that is quite interesting isn’t it? Then what makes us think these poisonous thoughts?

  23. Through Science we get half the picture. Through Science, Religion and Philosophy we get the full Truth of the matter.

  24. What I really appreciate about what you have presented here Dianne, is that you are showing so clearly what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ when we become stressed. It’s not just what’s visibly going on but what is churning away within us and how our physiology is responding. Being presented with the fact we create our own stress is a huge ouch moment, but it then makes sense that being its creator we can also be its healer.

  25. Thanks Diane and what a great example of the internal chit chat that is actually destroying us. How remarkable and powerful we are depending on what we are choosing to align to. Taking the time to connect to the essence within and feeling that love and stillness makes complete sense that this will then feed a body of harmony. I have been working on this to be a daily way of living at work, home and all over. It really is a commitment to bring understanding towards ourselves and others and that requires the skill of awareness and willingness to look at what is really going on.

    1. Yes the point is what energy have we aligned to for if we are connected to love we will not be having thoughts like that. So what is harming us is not so much the thoughts but our movements or alignment that led us to have those thoughts in the first place and then of course the cycle starts and each reinforce each other until we step out of it all.

  26. ‘the biggest form of stress is how we ourselves react to the situations’ this is so empowering. I know I’ve been so long in victim, justifying my reactions to the world around me as many do and say ‘it’s only natural’ to get super angry, that I realise it’s a transition to notice the more subtler layers of reaction and stress. What’s been eye-opening is realising I’m often the one putting pressures on myself to perform not others. Recognising this and why and where I came to being this way has helped enormously to see it’s no longer relevant – and to be honest about the resistance to letting this go as I try to keep hold of my identity of striving to be perfect!

  27. It makes so much sense Dianne – thank you. Our natural and harmonious state of being is being in union with the love we are, where there is an innate homeostasis in which our body and it’s physiology and our being naturally hums. And so, any digression away from this state of harmony, union with love or homeostasis and the body beings to call for correction. If we ignore this call, we digress further away and stress on the body and being is experienced as the dis-ease that it is. Our bodies are an incredible instrument that which we have with us 24/7, always guiding us to know when we are and when we are not being moved by the love that is our natural way of being.

    1. Yes, the conversation is always there, either subtle or unsubtle. We are perfectly capable of listening and understanding, the question is are we willing to? Because once we acknowledge that we have, and have always had, the ability to hear and understand the subtle communication from our body, we are then responsible for honouring its homeostatic nature and living in a more harmonious and loving way.

  28. I am sitting here today reading this in reaction to something in my life, I don’t want to let it go and blame others. Half way through I put my hand on my heart, sit and connect and feel the warmth in me. The internal blame commentary stops, I feel less stressed and the issue has reduced in size. It hasn’t gone but more connection will support it to move out.

  29. I would say most people including my former me, are convinced that stress is something that comes from outside them. This is a convenient awareness, as I am sure we can all think of some people who remain calm no matter what comes and others who get stressed at the drop of a hat. Now that I can see the possibility that stress is my response rather than something I have no say in, this difference between people in the same conditions makes sense and confirms what the author has shared.

  30. “One of the worst forms of stress (in my humble opinion) is negative internal talk, about others and about oneself.” I agree Dianne. By talking ourselves and others down we are simply adding to those negative feelings which supports no one. However turning the tables and appreciating ourselves and everyone we meet simply adds to our own sense of self worth and to that of others. Why then would we choose not to do this?

  31. Knowing that we simply have a choice in whether we respond or react to life is based on how much we are willing to deepen our relationship and awareness with ourselves and create the space to be able discern the truth of what is in front of us and know what is needed.

  32. This is an amazing article about stress and it really inspires in me a want to not be so hard on myself, to go more gently and with understanding.

  33. Comparison and jealousy are always negative, and the more we use self judgment the more we diminish our own self-worth, which only goes to show that we also have the power to change our choices which in turn builds our self-worth.

  34. “We are our own worst enemies. We make ourselves sick. And we can also be our own greatest friends, and bring ourselves back to true health.” Most beautifully said and so simple for us all to apply.

  35. The more we can observe what is happening the more we understand and the easier it is to hold another in love and allow their reactions to change to responses.

  36. This is such an insightful blog into how much stress has an impact on our physical body. So much of the time we associate stress with a mental/emotional imbalance and dont relate it to our physical health. Thankyou Dianne for making this so clear.

  37. Negative self-talk is a huge killer for most of us. It is like a virus that destroys us from the inside out. How much stress must that put on the body?

  38. “We are our own worst enemies. We make ourselves sick. And we can also be our own greatest friends, and bring ourselves back to true health.” I find this so inspiring, and of course it makes complete sense, that if we can be the ones that can bring on our own illnesses, that we also have the capability of doing the reverse. There is so much avaialble for us to learn about these amazing bodies of ours when we are open to the fact that there is so much more to us that just our physical being.

  39. This is such a great reminder that we can either be our own worst enemies or our own best friends – and that our health and wellbeing is entirely in our hands! Also, that negative self-talk is so destructive on a physiological level as well as psychologically. We have the power to build ourselves up, with love, understanding and patience, or to degrade ourselves – and the results are very quickly and clearly felt in our bodies.

    1. I agree Bryony that we can be our best friend and offer ourselves the best medicine possible. For me the loving, patient thoughts cant just be words I recite in my head, like positive affirmations. My body can see through false words from a mile off! I have to actually feel tender, loving and kind with myself, then everything in my life and physical body feels different.

  40. ‘to feel my whole body and listen to the wise things it has to say.’ for me this the starting point of true health, when we acknowledge our body carries the wisdom and when we honour what our body is communicating.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s