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. 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.

  2. “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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. ‘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.

  7. 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.

  8. “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.

  9. 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.

  10. “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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. ‘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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

    1. It’s also true that the way we move informs our thinking! In this way we can change our thinking by the quality we bring to our movements and this is very beautiful and very powerful.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. ‘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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

    1. True Kev, I had to laugh when i read your ‘I don’t know how many times I must have called myself an idiot’ as I can relate to this way of talking many many times, no where to go really when we say it like this to ourselves. And it is just as poisoning as sugar, alcohol etcetera.

  41. 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.

  42. “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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

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