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Can Our Thoughts Make Us Sick? - Function Health Club

Can Our Thoughts Make Us Sick?

Neurons that fire together wire together – Donald Hebb

A simple yet profoundly impactful statement.  Our brain cells communicate with one another via what’s called a synaptic transmission. As one brain cell releases a chemical neurotransmitter the next brain cell absorbs it. This communication process is known as a neuronal firing. When brain cells communicate frequently, the connection between them strengthens the messages that travel the same pathway in the brain over and over and ultimately begin to transmit faster and faster. 

So with enough repetition, they become automatic. That’s why when we perform an action over and over again, we are continually firing specific neurons and by repeating those actions those neurons begin to wire together creating a more permanent imprint.  With enough practice, we can go on auto pilot.  

Now interestingly psychologists have known that negative thought processes follow the same pattern. The more we think about or ruminate on a negative thought, the more entrenched the thought becomes. A further interesting nuance of this as well is that negative and traumatic thoughts tend to loop.

Have you ever found yourself playing a certain thought over and over until you do something consciously to stop it?

So on a real basic level, negative thinking creates a negative life.

Supportive, positive thinking creates a more supported positive life. 

Positivity is contagious

It sounds quite obvious, but there’s a lot of underlying components on a biological level that goes on with this, let alone just the words that we use. 

If we have a mismanagement of our emotions and how we’re thinking, then there’s going to also be a release of hormones in our body in response to that. And usually this is a stress response.  Stress is when the brain and your body get knocked out of balance, and that knocked out of balance state can come from just simply thinking again and again about a negative thought.  

Take a situation where maybe you have reacted to a coworker, or you know someone that’s reacted to a coworker negatively.  That negative interaction and thought is turning on the stress response and making what was adaptive, now has become maladaptive.  If you can’t turn it off and you can’t work on reframing that thought process and that mindset, then you’re headed for disease. 

We as human beings can turn on our stress response by purely thought alone. Just thinking about something negative or frustrating or upsetting can turn on our stress response and get a hormonal cascade released. 

The chemicals released are going to give our brain and body a rush of energy and people become ‘addicted’ to that rush of energy.  This highlights that there’s a psychological component and there’s the biological side of it. From here we often will utilize the conditions in our life to reaffirm that addiction and that reaction.  We correlate the response to that emotion, be it frustration with a coworker or that job you have or that bad relationship you are in, we, often subconsciously, start to crave it. We need it as it becomes a conditioned response of our identity.

Our body’s craving that hormonal release that its getting from those feelings and those thoughts. If you get angry at a coworker and you get that arousal and your your brain starts to notice that energy spike, then when your energy actually starts dropping, automatically you have that image of your coworker in your brain and it gives your body that jolt of energy again, right? Anytime you think about that frustrating job, a frustrating person, you get a jolt of energy because of that release hormonally. 

So we essentially become addicted to our own thoughts when you think about it that way. And that’s really a mismanagement of our attention and our energy. Do we want to be utilizing a bunch of energy towards negative thoughts and negative actions that way? 

No!  We need to work on getting past our typical emotions and break the habits that we’ve created if we want to actually truly be healthy and level up in our life.

So one way that we can start to work on this is, surprise surprise, controlling how you think and feel.  You want to eventually make this very conscious and in doing so become greater than the circumstances that you’re in. So often when we get in a frustrating circumstance, we let that frustration kind of dictate our response as opposed to taking a step back and controlling that environment, and reframing it. 

This is being introspective.

Acting on emotions

We don’t want to start reacting purely based on our emotions because our emotions, in themselves, are record of our past. 

Say that again. 

Our emotions themselves are a record of our past. 

The reason why we react to things and have emotional responses to things is because of something that’s occurred in our past. And so we have that trigger in our brain that goes, ah, I remember that and this is how I responded to it. 

So if you allow your emotions to be driving your thoughts, you’re actually thinking in the past.  Then if you get stuck in a loop of being unable to think greater than how you’re feeling and you believe that your thoughts have something to do with your future, then you’re creating more of your past. 

Let me say that part again. 

If you’re unable to think greater than how you’re feeling and you believe that your thoughts have something to do with your future, then you’re creating more of your past. 

So that cycle of thinking and feeling and feeling and thinking feedback loops that we can get lost in, condition our body to subconsciously become the mind of that emotion that we’re feeling.  Our body in itself is becoming that unconscious mind, believing that they’re living in the same unhappy experience that was in the past and it’s going to keep producing those cascades of stress response in that same cycle.

Understanding this we have to dig deeper and consider what actually creates disease. Genes don’t actually create disease.  The environment that you’re in signals the gene that creates the disease. And that environment can be any environmental reaction.  So the poor workplace, the frustration with the coworker, whatever that environment is, is either going to signal positive output or a negative output. So hormones of stress that we have push the genetic buttons that create the disease that occurs.

If you can turn on your stress response purely by your thoughts alone, then those thoughts can also make you sick. 

The flip side of this however is that if your thoughts can make you sick then shouldn’t they also make you well, if you consciously work at it?

Making friends with change

The biggest hurdle for this to occur is in the fact it’s going to be uncomfortable. Change is uncomfortable, at first.  When you first start off a new training program, there’s an uncomfortable aspect to that. It’s tough. It’s harder than you may have expected, you knew it would be tough, but sometimes it’s a little bit more debilitating or tough than you actually expected it to be.  You have to be comfortable with knowing that it will be uncomfortable.

You’re entering into an unknown state. 

You’re entering into an unknown area that you haven’t been in because you’ve been living in that stress response for so long. So as you’re leaving the familiar, you’re stepping into the unknown.

And even if the familiar itself is uncomfortable when you take an honest look at the situation, be it being in an upsetting workplace or being frustrated at coworker.  

Are those situations actually comfortable? No, because you’re always in an uncomfortable state. You’re always battling something so it’s not actually comfortable. It’s not actually free of pain. 

So in itself, if you leave the familiar, it will be painful, but you’re leaving something that was already uncomfortable and painful. 

Are some people often super happy being unhappy, yes, I am certain we all know a few people like that.  We’ve all been around those people that seem to always be grumpy, always unhappy, always kind of Debbie downers, if you will. They would rather hold on to that suffering feeling as opposed to taking a chance on possibility of change, of improvement.  Knowing what we now know about the human body, the potential reasoning behind why these people are always like this probably has more to do with their internal system (thyroid, hormone release etc.) then it does just them being grumpy people.  

So are you willing to be uncomfortable and go into the unknown for a better output and more positive change for yourself?

That uncomfortable zone is a perfect place to create from whenever you’re going after something in life, whether it’s a new venture, whether it’s a new relationship, it’s uncomfortable, it’s unknown, but it’s also the perfect place to create something beautiful and something amazing.

Our body is conditioned to become the mind. So in order to change, we need to become greater than the body. So we can’t have mismanagement of our thoughts and our feelings. We need to become conscious of how unconscious we actually are.  

There’s an interesting bit of research around how unconscious we actually become in our day to day life in everything that we’re doing. And it’s shown that 95% of who we are by 35 years old is a set of memorized behaviours.

So only 5% of us, 5% of who we are, by the time we’re 35 years old is just memorized behaviour, just an unconscious reaction occurring on a day to day basis.

We need to take control and become more conscious of how unconscious we are. 

Our emotional reactions, unconscious beliefs and perceptions, we need to bring those to the forefront and work on those and get out of just becoming so reactive and set on memorized behaviors that maybe aren’t feeding us or fueling us or pushing us towards greatness or towards excellence. 

Become conscious of how you think, how you respond, how you act and pay attention to things like the act of observing what you’re exactly doing on a day to day basis, how you’re responding to things on a day to day basis. The more conscious you become of how unconscious you are, life becomes enormously more powerful for what you can do. 

Get out of that negative space and move into positivity for yourself. Utilize your thoughts to improve your life.  Become conscious of hour unconscious you are!

I Promise you if you do this, your life will transform. It’ll make a difference for you. 

Let’s dig in and demand more from ourselves so we can see even greater growth moving forward. Unsure of how to start with positive change? Ask us

Level Up Your Life!