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?

941 thoughts on “How we hurt ourselves with reaction

  1. I have found that that how I speak about myself has a direct impact upon how I feel and then experience the world. Listening to myself, being my own observer of myself of how I speak is I find truly supportive in enabling me to change my communication and thereby how I feel about myself and my quality of health and wellbeing. Definitely beneficial self-medication.

  2. 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. Absolutely Dianne, I can definitely attest to that as I was my own worst enemy for most of my life, but now constantly turning the self talk around to appreciation and love.

  3. I knew that stress has a profound effect on us but the way you describe the actual physiological manifestations of it in our bodies Dianne was so sensible and practical that I can really understand how devastating it is for our bodies to live under that constant pressure.

  4. When we consider how subtle or ‘small’ a reaction can be, we can see that we must constantly be causing harm in the body, like a background drip. Getting to know myself more intimately means starting to really take note of these ‘silent but deadly’ reactions.

  5. “It began when I learned how to become aware of when I was racy and ahead of myself, then to stop and breathe gently.” What a perfect place to start. Nothing to do or fix, just simply stop for a moment.

  6. Our fight/flight survival mechanism is an amazing and highly important system of our protection, however, it can also be our worst enemy resulting in us living in state of perpetual anxiousness. Learning ‘re-set’ it to be in harmony with the other body systems rather than dominating them is a true re-establishment of wellbeing.

  7. I have so often been my own worst enemy, I don’t know how many times I must have called myself an idiot, but it is good to know that all that unnecessary internal dialogue has a detrimental effect on our health so it can be treated as harmful like anything else that we know is and we wouldn’t purposefully put in our bodies.

  8. To understand that stress starts with us is huge and shows how much is truly in our hands. If we take the time and care to feel how we are in each moment and to catch that self talk, that raciness, we equip ourselves to more clearly be in in life and address what needs to be addressed. We are way more powerful than we allow.

  9. Reactions hurt and put a huge strain on the body. I know that when I find myself reacting I often feel like a bus has run over me afterwards.

  10. It makes sense how we program ourselves to be and remain stressed and the feedback loop that keeps us in a vicious cycle of ever deepening stress levels that eventually leads the systems in our body to break down. With all of this being considered you have highlighted how important it is to commit to not reacting to situations around us that keep feeding the ‘stress loop’ and separating us even further from the flow and rhythm that our body innately knows and responds to.

  11. Very interesting blog, I love the fact that we are the drivers of our own vehicles, stuff may come at us from all directions including from within, but it is how we choose to respond or react that is the outcome, not what just happens to happen. Once we realise this and take responsibility for all our actions and reactions our stress levels will be just fine.

  12. When we re-act (even if silently), we act on something that comes from the outside and act-ivate an internal process that ends up hurting us. When we get absorbed by life this is what happens. We get hurt when we lose ourselves and a clear view on ourselves. As we go down, our body goes there too.

  13. I have recently noticed just how much my body is negatively impacted after I react emotionally to a given situation. What Dianne shared here really hits home and is confirmation of just how much we are not only responsible for our own health, but we have the true power to change it once we deviate by reaction as opposed to simply observing what is going on for ourselves and others in our relationships. The reactions block this natural ability to read into the dynamics of why and how things happen.

  14. You can feel how much stress drains the body and overworks the organs and systems that are designed to keep us in homeostasis. This would indicate to me that stress is not a natural state for our body to be in and we have taken on a way of living as our norm that is far from normal.

  15. I absolutely love this blog – when we know that reactions make us feel awful anyway this just fills in the gaps to understand just what exactly is going on – always worth re-reading.

    1. Indeed Michael, while the reactions from the mind can be very disturbing there too is the delicate response from our body in what is true or not which at sometimes, because of our patterns of reacting, we react to it but in truth it is a way of our body to tell us something is not true. We then only have to find a way to be more in connection and communication with our body so we can be the observers and will not get absorbed in the situation at hand.

  16. Very interesting blog about how we create our own stress. ‘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 I see myself and continue to appreciate what I bring instantly brings me back in connection with my body. I have found that this is one of the most nurturing things i can do for myself.

  17. Reading this blog, we really have no excuse do we for our own state of health?! We are so good at giving ourselves a hard time about the things that arent going right in our lives or the things we dont like, whereas if we give the focus to all the things we appreciate about ourselves and others then it is remarkable how life can turn around as we reconnect to who we are.

  18. ‘we react physiologically to our own thoughts and emotions!’ and we know this, and yet we often ignore this, and in fact that’s stressful for us and our bodies. So we stress ourselves and therefore we can choose not to do this, but finding simple ways to come back to ourselves and our bodies in each and every moment. Be it simply as I type here now feeling my fingers on the keys, observing my breath and how I move – living in this way allows for that connection to ourselves and we cut out the negative talk that may be there.

  19. It sounds so true to me Dianne, that we can be our worst enemies but at the same time true healers of ourselves too. It is just a matter of choice and from that point on the way we move through life that will bring the stress and discomfort to the body or, in the other case, the healing that will restore our bodies to its natural divine state.

  20. I am the master of my own breath and therefore my own body and its emotions and responses and reactions; this has been an absolute life changer for me and I thank Universal Medicine for supporting me to remember this very ancient wisdom which we all know but sometimes choose to forget.

  21. This shares the importance of loving ourselves and understanding that self-degradation is actually taxing on our health. What an amazing wake up call for us to simply stop and appreciate more. And yes – stress comes from within, and it is in our hands to say no to taking this on.

  22. It’s interesting that our ailments are first born in our psychology, the way we think, the thoughts we choose to align with and run with, the way we choose to react or respond and how much emotion we engender in our lives and how this then informs our movements.

  23. What we call stress can be very different for different people and so this does say to me that it is something that we initiate ourselves rather than it being totally dependent on what’s happening around us. And in this it’s truly empowering to recognise that how we react or respond to situations is something we can change and develop. And how we can all support one another by reflecting a harmonious way to respond to life, that shows and reminds us that there is another way.

  24. Getting to know my own triggers and reactions has been fundamental in starting to observe more clearly what’s going on.

  25. Great to highlight Dianne how much stress reactions impact our whole being. By staying present with ourselves more consistently it becomes far easier to choose not to react or allow negative thoughts in to take control.

  26. I’ve recently become more aware of how stimulating and buzzy being in my head feels. What I mean is that when focusing on the mental commentary my body tingles like a rubberband held tight then pinged. It feels disturbing. I don’t feel that when focusing on my body. During my day.

  27. The fact that our bodies react and respond to our emotions gives us a real insight into the way we can harm and heal ourselves.

  28. It has taken some time to break the internal dialogue, and my life and the way I feel about myself has changed enormously. Now I have to be aware of catching the ever so slightly internal thoughts that I would have ignored previously, as they are not as harmless as we would like to think they are.

  29. It’s fascinating to see that when I react there is always something for me to address with myself, not the person or situation \i may be reacting to.

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s