The Body speaks...
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Judith Schuepfer-Griffin Registered MBACP, BA Hons
6th March, 20120 Comments
In our culture we usually see body and soul as separate entities that have nothing to do with each other. If the body suffers from illness or aches and pains we go and see our doctor who will normally focus on the symptoms alone and will treat only that part of our body. There is no time to get to know the person as a whole and the circumstances of their life. On the other hand, if we have emotional problems of any kind we either bear them and suffer and hope that one day it will get better by itself, or we change something in our lives like find a new job or get a divorce. Or we go and see a counsellor who will hopefully help us to get to the root of the problem so that it won’t crop up again in the new job or the next relationship. But usually it doesn’t occur to us to go to counselling because of physical problems. We assume that our inner and outer lives are separate and maybe it never even occurred to us that they might be connected.
There are many physical symptoms that can have emotional roots, like chronic stomach problems, indigestion or ulcers. They might say: There is something that I can’t digest, that I can’t stomach, that makes me sour or bitter. Chronic back pain might say: The burden I carry is too heavy, or: I had nobody that strengthened my back when I grew up. Heart problems might say: I don’t pay attention to my emotions, my heart is blocked up, or: I’m scared of ..., so I’m running away by working, drinking, eating too much, or: my heart is aching, or even broken, because... Chronic headaches might say: There is something I carry around with me that “is a total headache”.
It might be old anger or disappointment that I don’t acknowledge, or anxiety that makes me tense up. A stiff neck and tight shoulders: Am I generally very anxious; is there fear that sits in my neck? Or: Am I too rigid; do I have too many rules about how things should be, or have to be done? Insomnia: what is there that won’t let me relax and sleep? What keeps me awake at night? Stiff or aching joints: what is it that won’t let me move freely, what is paralyzing me? There is old wisdom in everyday-language; it’s full of expressions that describe emotional problems by referring to the body. I’m convinced that many aches and pains and chronic or recurring physical illnesses also have an emotional side to them. Unaddressed traumatic experiences often express themselves through physical symptoms. There is more and more evidence that physical health and well being can be improved through counselling. But don’t get hung up on the examples I’ve given above; they’re just an illustration. Each person is unique, and so are the reasons for their symptoms.
Body, mind and soul are different aspects of one person and they all affect each other. Otherwise we would be mere machines.
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