[10/09/23] Mind-Body Monday: Forgiveness, Anger, Shame & its Effect on Our Health
Hello, my name is Casandra MacAlan and today, I want to share some of my personal experience with dis-ease and managing my emotions of anger along with my knowledge of mind-body-spirit health and healing throughout my journey.
To start I will share some of my favorite quotes around forgiveness from some Traditional Chinese teachers:
The first is: “Show me a body wherein dis-ease and I will show you a body wherein lies unforgiveness.” Let’s sit with this for a moment and breathe it in, shall we? It’s a pretty big statement. It begs the question, does all dis-ease have a component of unforgiveness? Is it the unforgiveness of self or others? Does it matter which? If you think back upon a time you were sick in mind or body, were you also angry? Were you resentful? Did you want someone or something to be different than they were? Were you ashamed of yourself? Did you blame yourself or someone else for your illness or struggle?
I know for myself that every time my body has spoken to me with pain or dis-ease, if I am honest, I was angry at a person or situation, or in fear or shame.
Here’s a secret about me. Since I have been working in holistic healing for the past 2 decades I was never okay with being sick. It was an unwanted identity. It was what I treated, and I thought that if I was sick then that meant I was unworthy to treat it. I saw myself as too hard-headed to be ill, I had to fierce a will. I was a Healer, and good healers in my mind, had to be immune to illness or anxiety or depression.
When I was in the middle of my finals at UCD, I became so ill that I was unable to eat, constantly nauseous and throwing up. I saw myself as being anxious about my grades and ignored these symptoms. I called myself a baby, and told myself to put my “big girl panties on”. Finally, on the urging of my family, I went to UC Davis Medical center and after tests were run, I was diagnosed with several large gallstones and gallbladder disease. The doctor told me that I needed to schedule surgery ASAP. I told him I couldn’t as I was in finals. He told me that it was then likely that my gallbladder would burst and if it did I would have 1 hour at most before bile would destroy my organs and kill me. Pretty heavy duty right? So what did I do? I thanked him for his opinions, left, and went back to school.
I figured I would know when it was so bad I had to have surgery. That my body would tell me. Fortunately, it did some weeks later, and I listened eventually and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
Here’s the scary part. The whole time I figured I was just weak and should have just “toughed it out.” And it wasn’t until Years later that I happened to be scrolling through some online medical results, that I actually looked at the blood tests from that surgery, and I was terrified. I would have actually died if I hadn’t gone in that night.
Believe it or not, I still hadn’t forgiven myself for becoming ill and having to go to the hospital, until I read the results that night and saw in black and white how sick I was.
Why did I react like that? Brene Brown says that we live in a culture that despises the sick. It sees illness as a sign of weakness.
The really sad part is that the shame that our culture puts on people who are sick or in pain can create so much more of it. As Abraham Hicks would say, “Every thought vibrates” so when we are focusing on feeling shame or being unforgiving of ourselves or others, our vibrational frequency lowers to a place where pain and illness grow!
When we focus on thoughts that make us feel good about ourselves and others, our vibrational frequency will rise to the place where our Inner being can fully envelop us. This then puts us in the place of well-being and our bodies will eventually catch up. This is important to remember, especially when we are dealing with anger and shame.
My other favorite quotes are: Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to get sick, or holding hot coal waiting to throw it at someone, but instead it is only burning us.
I have recently been struggling with anger. Choosing to end a relationship with someone I love, wasn’t a decision I made abruptly. It was a long journey that had filled me with simmering resentments until I was a person I didn’t like.
You see, anger doesn’t sit well with me. I can’t metabolize it, I guess you would say. If I get angry, I get ill. For me, it is like drinking poison. I feel it physically. My face gets hot, my blood pressure rises, my skin gets tight, my pulse speeds up, I feel nauseous, my muscles tense, I want to run or fight and my body cannot handle the nervous system response. Because I couldn’t run away or strike out, I would shove it down into my body.
Has this ever happened to any of you? Has your body literally ached with anger? Have you noticed other sensations?
When we shove anger down into our systems like this it comes out as pain in other ways. Even just the slow burn of regret. This too can create illness, anxiety and limitation.
So what can we do? Firstly, we must remind ourselves that “everyone is always doing the best they can do.” Even when that best isn’t good enough for us, it can still be “their best”. Can we really be unforgiving of someone who is doing their best, simply because it isn’t what We want?
Secondly, when we think about our disappointments or resentments. We need to repeat the following mantra, “I forgive you for not being the person I wanted you to be.” I do this as often as I need, as it refocuses me on what I want now, instead of ruminating on what I didn’t get, or what made me unhappy. This continual reframing creates new pathways for the joy and happiness we have been without. Strengthening the neurons for positive feelings and thereby increasing our energy for health and wellness.
By doing this, then you begin to imagine a new future for yourself, think about a new possibility, and start to ask specific questions – such as what would it be like to live without this anger, unforgiveness or shame? When you do that, – your frontal lobe snaps to attention. In a matter of seconds, it creates both an intention to be healthy and happier (so you can get clear on what you want to create and what you no longer wish to experience) and a mental picture of being healthy so that you can imagine what it will be like.