Which Comes First?


Which comes first?

The last few days have passed in a blur. I put myself into a rut. I spent the days curled up in my bed only to leave when I absolutely had to. My entire spine radiated pain, while my wrists and knees burned and ached. The longer I laid, the worse my pain felt. Yes, it could have just been that my awareness of pain was increased. I did have more time to really “touch base “with my body.

Here is one fact that I know contributed to my experience this past week: I messed up the isolation diet and am starting over. Diet has such an influence over a person’s mind and body that it can simply not be disregarded. Although I only executed the diet for a month, I was feeling much better when I put clean fuel in my body.   Due to the fact that I did not complete the process, I can’t pinpoint the exact culprit that may be contributing to my pain sensations.

During  this last down experience I paid close attention to my mind. Of course, I felt tired and irritable like most people do when they are in pain. I also felt sad to be in this place again. The sadness was prompted from thoughts of guilt-concerning, not adhering to the isolation diet. So, sad because I felt I put myself in this situation, or at least caused more pain than was initially required by my body.

Yesterday, I mustered up all the extra energy I had and forced myself to attend Adapts fitness class. I tried to be as cheerful as I could (which was not much), as I chatted with a lady before class started. I had read about the “facial feedback hypothesis, “which states that smiling when a person is sad can result in higher rates of happiness. It has been proven that this can occur with any part of the body. So, summarized, my emotions affect my body and my body can affect my emotions.  It works as a sort of feedback loop within our body. When this lady asked how I was doing, I groaned quietly under my breath and looked at the floor as I let out a big sigh.

When I looked up and saw her eyes, I asked her, “How do you know if your negative thoughts and emotions have caused pain in your body, or if your body is causing negative thoughts and emotions?”

That is the real question that I have been concerned with these last few days. If I could ascertain which one came first, I would feel more confident in deciding how to mediate the problem. I was so impressed with her answer that I decided to share this with you all.

She said to me, “I work out and if the pain is gone, then I know it was mental.”

This is absolutely true and so deeply profound. If I am feel in pain during or after I exercise, then I know it is just my body acting up. However, if exercise resolves the issue, then I can rest assured that my mind needs to be attended to. If it is my body, then I can implement rest, relaxation techniques, a hot bath, massage and/ or topical treatments.

If my mind needs attention, I will identify negative emotions and the thoughts driving them. I will list my fears and logically analyze which ones are fact and which ones are not. Deciding what thoughts I can change is an important part of this process, so I don’t spend all of my energy trying to force things that I have no power over? I objectively look at which thoughts I have that serve me, and which ones need to go. While I may have a certain thought at times, I do get to choose if I agree with it or not. As I mentioned previously, getting my body moving via walking, yoga or any exercise is essential to mental clarity. I also love the practice of clearing my mind and relaxing my body daily. I feel this helps me regulate my emotions.

Finally, when it comes to mental health, I love to be of service somewhere in the community. Thinking of and helping another person when I feel in peril is very freeing. This act helps put my life and difficulties into perspective.

So, how can you tell which one comes first?