This is an interesting topic I think about very often, but I haven’t thought about writing a post about it so thank you Kalliope for giving me the idea!
Ok, let’s dig in. First of all, I want to mention that this isn’t about taking some particular actions to hurt ourselves. It’s not about auto-flagellating or stuff like that. It’s about how our bodies “cope” with the mental distress. There are physical consequences to our negative thinking and this phenomenon is called somatization.
“Somatization is a tendency to experience and communicate psychological distress in the form of somatic symptoms and to seek medical help for them. More commonly expressed, it is the generation of physical symptoms of a psychiatric condition such as anxiety.” – Wikipedia
Basically, we get beaten up by the stress. If we experience strong negative emotions very often and at high intensities, we end up having problems with different body parts. The explanation is simple: when we experience an intense emotion, our body gets into the fight or flight state. This state is activated when our body thinks we’re in danger so most of our inner resources are redirected to our “weapons”. Cortisol and adrenaline kick in, our blood gets redirected to our hands and feet, our attention is re-focused towards that stressful thing, our heart rate starts to raise so our muscles can get as much oxygenated blood as possible. This will raise our body temperature as well.
You might ask what’s wrong with this. Normally, nothing. But if we live this intense state very often, our inner organs don’t get as much resources as they should. For example, our food processing systems are not as important for our survival in those moments when the threat is imminent, hence, it won’t get as much resources as it needs. Because of this, it needs to process as much as before with little resources. Imagine this like a factory where there are 5 departments with 5 workers each. Now let’s say that two of those departments need extra workers due to a tight deadline (the fight or flight) and two workers are taken from each of the other three departments (the inner organs). Now we have two departments with 8 people each so the most urgent tasks get done and three departments have three workers each, but the amount of work in each department is as for 5 workers. Wouldn’t you agree that those poor bastards will get very tired very soon? Won’t they get overwhelmed and they might even push themselves over the limit so they can do as much as possible? And guess what happens when they push over their limits? The weaker ones “crack”.
The same thing applies to our organs as well and this is the theory somatization is based on. Having a negative thinking habit can lead to experiencing strong negative emotions very often which can lead to physical diseases like ulcer, heart attacks and so on. Stress always finds a way out and if we don’t make conscious efforts to create that way as we please, it will make it through our weaknesses.
Now the sensitive question is required: how often do you feel strong negative emotions?