Do you notice when your body is inflamed? Are tender areas of your body even more painful on those days? Do your joints feel more swollen? Do feel mentally bogged down and fatigued? You have likely visited your clinician and received information about an anti-inflammatory diet. Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Masley offer specific tasty alternatives to the foods that promote inflammation on our podcasts together. In the same way, you may also know the value of exercise to decrease inflammation which were discussed with David-Dorian Ross, Amy Weintraub and Toni Bergins. As mindfulness and self-compassion take center stage, have you noticed that even certain kinds of thoughts create an acute flare of inflammation? Let’s learn more and then talk about the kinds of thoughts that create inflammation and what you can do about it.
Thoughts that Increase Inflammation
The emotional trauma of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder can create a lot of difficulties for you and your family. There is mounting literature about the increased inflammatory factors in these illnesses and the resulting doubling of their mortality rate due to strokes and heart attacks. There is also a strong correlation between these illnesses and autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, thyroiditis and many others. Studies now demonstrate that your endocrine and immune systems are distorted causing increased inflammatory factors in your both your blood and brain. This interferes with your brain’s function and can explain many of the day to day symptoms you experience, particularly in the morning when cortisol levels are high.
More recent research is demonstrating more subtle ways your thinking can lead to elevations of inflammatory factors. In my podcast with Dr. Mario Martinez we discussed how “archetypal wounds” like abandonment, betrayal and shame lead to thought patterns that have immediate effects on your immune system. These three types of wounds represent the body's three responses when exposed to prolonged or severe stress. Your brain’s watchdog for danger is the amygdala. It can become overwhelmed generating a chronic fight, flight or freeze response throughout the body. Internally, these are represented by Dr. Martinez’s three archetypical wounds shame (fight), betrayal (flight) and abandonment (freeze). The amygdala generates these chronic feelings as it distorts the normal sympathetic and adrenal responses to your body’s inflammatory challenges.
Thoughts that Decrease Inflammation
Thoughts can create inflammation, so there must be alternative thoughts that can reverse this process and decrease inflammation. I wouldn’t be telling you this if Dr. Martinez didn’t also provide an antidote to these reactions. Let’s go over some of the major points he suggested on our podcasts to help you to live happier and longer while decreasing the inflammation your body:
- Take the time to notice the thoughts you carry chronically that leave you feeling bad about yourself. Notice the part of the body where you experience these feelings the most.
- Notice the relationships in your life that seem to bring these feelings out. Also, notice the memories of people in your past life that also seem to bring these feelings out.
- In which of these three categories do your feelings seem to best fit, shame, betrayal or abandonment?
- Dr. Martinez has also studied the feelings that seem to be the “antidote” to such feelings.
- Feelings of honor are the antidote for shame.
- Feelings of loyalty are the antidote for betrayal.
- Feelings of commitment are the antidote for abandonment.
- Take the time to “breathe into” each of these and try to connect them to the people in your life, past and present that seem to engender these feelings.
- Throughout the day, when you sense feelings associated with your archetypal wound practice applying the antidote. You can even practice going back and forth between these feelings. You will find your ability to observe and respond to these feelings in a healthy way grows a little each day.
- You can either choose to allow the people in your life to continue engendering these feelings and their negative effects on your body or take the time to confront, release and replace each of these feelings.
- Increase your time with and awareness of the love and “healing fields” around people who engender the feelings associated your antidote. Memorize and “breathe into” these feelings so that you can call on them at any time.
- Allow those who engender your main archetypal feelings to be uncomfortable. As you gain strength through this practice, confront in ways that seem acceptable to you the people who continue to act in ways that generated these wounds.
- Be wise, courageous and persistent in these efforts.
This is a daily practice that is only a part of his overall strategy to create healthy longevity while decreasing your inflammation through natural healing of your relationships and yourself. Listen to our podcast to learn even more from this remarkable man!