Do you ever stop and wonder what your various aches, pains, and dysfunctions are telling you? More often than not, the physical is linked to the emotional. In this society, we tend to separate the physical from the emotional; so much so that, even when confronted with obvious links between the two, my patients never seem to put it together until I bring it up. I can't tell you how many times I have seen patients whose sciatic pain began six years ago...when they first met their domineering spouses...who were, in general, a real pain in the you-know-what. I have seen patients with chest pains and palpitations that began after a painful breakup. I've treated patients with upper back issues that began when they were in a situation where they feared for their safety (the upper back area gets tight in a fear situation-ever notice how you tend to tense up in that area when you are startled or frightened?) And most patients have at least some degree of neck pain that stems from anger; when you are angry, the shoulders rise up to the chin. Do you notice your neck getting tight after dealing with that "pain in the neck" in your office? You now have someone to blame!
I used to get migraines every time I had plans to visit a certain person (whom I will not name, in case they are reading this!) The funny thing was, I enjoyed spending time with him; it wasn't like I was overwhelmed with dread at the thought of seeing him. However, now that I look back on the situation, well...it just wasn't a great situation to be in. And now, in retrospect, I see that my body was actually more aware of what was going on than my mind was!
Here is yet another example: a few weeks ago, I started developing mysterious shoulder pain. I had never had it before, and did not perform any activity that might have caused it. It was mild, so it was easy to dismiss.
About a week after the pain started, I was sitting down and compiling a list of things that I needed to get done. Of all these things, not one item on the list had to do with my own health or well-being-it was all for other people. As I looked over the growing list of chores and responsibilities, I suddenly felt exhausted. I was giving all my energy to other people, but not doing anything to replenish myself. I sighed, and thought to myself: "Ugh, I feel like I've got the weight of the world on my shoulders." I didn't put two and two together at that time, but I did make a decision to balance out all that I was giving out with some self-care. I set an appointment for acupuncture, scheduled a day off for myself, and set my alarm to go to the gym the next day.
I'm sure you can guess what happened with that shoulder pain. It disappeared almost immediately, and never came back.
So, the next time you start feeling out of sorts, try to think about what your body is telling you. Sometimes realization is the first step back to health and balance.