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?

955 thoughts on “How we hurt ourselves with reaction

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. “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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

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

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. ‘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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. “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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. “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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. “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.

  26. 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.

  27. ‘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.

  28. Now that I have come to understand the power of reactions to harm my body I can see so clearly why my body was low in vitality and suffering from ill-health for such a long time; I was spending so much of my life in reaction. Yes, it definitely hurts to go in to reaction, and it just doesn’t hurt us but all those around us as well. Reaction is not something that is natural to the way our body lives so in response it has a very emphatic way of letting us know.

  29. To understand that our reactions are as harmful as anything that can harm us physically was a revelation to me. But once understood how this happens, and the effect that reactions have energetically on our physical body and mental health, it made so much sense. The key is to not get caught out by anything that may trigger a reaction in us by healing the reasons why we are reacting in the first place.

  30. We can often feel what happens in our body when someone else has said something to us that is upsetting, and it can feel quite uncomfortable. But I wonder how often we register the reaction in our body when we verbally abuse ourselves?; that inner critic can be incredibly harsh. Coming to understand that there is actually no difference between who is ‘abusing’ can be a life-changer as learning not to react saves our body from so much unnecessary harm.

  31. “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.” This has been a revelation for me, and in the last few years I have come to understand how reactive I was in my life to so many different situations. However by being willing to look at why I was reacting and then dealing with my own issues, I am far less reactive than I have ever been. It’s so liberating to not get caught up in my own stuff and opens up so many opportunites for deeper relationships with others.

  32. True, we program ourselves to be stressed and stay in it ‘deepening the groove’ by using the same abusive behaviour against ourselves and therefore against others. The moment we start to be honest and admit this fact we can change it by being more appreciative of ourselves in our self talk and in treating our body with care and love as that’s what we deserve and it is the way we learn how to be with ourselves in truth.

  33. We obsess over our weight and attack ourselves from our heads for being ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ and ‘unattractive’, but what if these thoughts decided how we depict ourselves in the mirror. Could they can actually precipitate to become our physiology, patterns and behaviours?

  34. One of the worse things about reaction is that we direct a force at the other and this force then shapes all subsequent interactions, often making the relationship quite adversarial at that moment and making it harder to understand what is happening.

  35. ‘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.’ Well said Dianne much of the stress we cause ourselves we do through pictures when we create scenarios in our mind, or we keep repeating the same patterns, it is not until we break the pattern that things change and in order to break the pattern we need to work out why we created it in the first place and then address the main cause.

  36. It’s quite amazing that stress can chemically alter our body and cause imbalance, exhaustion and so forth. There are many other emotions that also have a huge impact on our body, such as sadness, rage, comparison and so forth, and for some of these we are yet to ‘scientifically’ prove the impact although this impact is very much known to those who experience it.

    1. Yes, quite a lot is known how emotions are affecting the body but there is a lot more. One reason why the knowledge may be limited is because researchers wonder what the benefit of such knowledge is.

  37. “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.” So true Dianne. In fact if we were to dissect our day and count the number of times we were to have a negative dialogue with ourselves, I imagine it would be a much higher percentage than the positive things that we internally appreciate.

  38. That negative internal chatter is absolutely crippling. It can drive us to do all sorts of horrible behaviours and acts. But the root of the crazy is in the body. When I connect and settle thats when I get the chance to feel and address what’s causing upstairs in my mind to go bonkers.

  39. “This helps me to feel my whole body and listen to the wise things it has to say.” Listening to the wisdom of the whole body and not to the internal chatter of the mind offers the opportunity to feel what is true.

  40. Really interesting to read about the way our reactions create a constant feedback loop, that keep us in that same reaction unless we do something to change this. It highlights the responsiblity we have for ourselves just as starters, to not allow this to continue so that our reactions do not run us or our bodies.

  41. It is quite a revelation to realise that stress comes from inside of us and not from external factors even though these may be the triggers for our reaction. Such truth puts us back in the driver’s seat with both hands on the wheel in terms of our levels of health and vitality or illness and disease.

  42. ‘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.’ Sometimes we can make up stories in our minds and believe them when they are absolutely untrue. We can make ourselves wrong, unloved etc and equally we can wake up to the truth and allow ourselves to connect to the love that we are inside. Universal Medicine gives us so many ways that we can do this. The Unimed living website is full of gems and pointers in this regard also.

  43. Stresses and reactions play havoc with our finely tuned system, and take us away from our sense of self and connection to our innate wisdom.

  44. I read this while my emotional reaction to something that had happened at work from several hours ago still reverberated in my body, and I so agree what makes us ill is not what happens to us, but how we react to it. My mind can wrestle for hours and days with no end, but when my whole body is given attention and I choose to engage with it, I begin to see a different way.

  45. This article is spot on, the biggest stresser is how I am with myself, and I find I can react to how I am or how others are, and give myself a hard time with that, but that is not needed, not helpful, and it’s useful to consider how internal chatter feeds this … we really are more powerful than we often allow in that how we talk to ourselves directly impacts our bodies, and so bringing understanding here is key, and something that is supportive for us and all around us.

  46. In my experience we can all do a great job in stressing ourselves out, even more so than the outside influences we often blame. It’s the reason why we do this that we need to figure out before we are able to remove this very damaging behaviour from our lives, and once removed life is sure to be a whole lot more easy and enjoyable to live; it definitely has been for me.

  47. Reactions and emotions fill the body with hardness and tension – and change our structure on a molecular level.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

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