Updated: Feb 23
The Mind-Brain-Body-Emotion connection
The link between Stress and Somatic symptoms is a topic of much research. I first began to learn about the connection between emotions, beliefs and physical aches and pains in my earliest days of studying Meridian Energy Therapies. Now, more than 15 years later, this is still a hugely valid and important area of my work as a Health Coach, helping people with chronic stress-related symptoms.
I learnt that by working with the release of "stuck" emotions (often stemming from upsetting or stressful past life events), beliefs could change through the insight of a new perspective. Physical pain could subsequently (or, perhaps more accurately, synchronously) reduce or even disappear completely. In recent years, I've learned a lot more about the mind-brain-body-emotion connection. A 2021/2021 research study by Lifestyle Prescriptions™ Health Coach Specialist, Jane Oelke, ND, PhD, on "Beliefs Affecting Chronic Pain Responses" dived into this fascinating topic. It explored common belief patterns in relation to very specific bodily locations of chronic muscular-skeletal pain e.g. lower back, neck, finger, hip, ankle and so on.
Lumbar Pain and Feeling "Unsupported"
What she found was extremely thought-provoking. Amongst the top two belief patterns she discovered, "I am not strong enough" and "I have too many responsibilities" correlated with the ability to control situations and the ability to manage or cope with chronic pain. From my experience in working with chronic neck/back/lumbar pain clients, I have also noticed that pain in these areas is usually associated with the belief of not being supported in life, or not feeling strong enough to support oneself (e.g. "I’m just not feeling supported", or He/she "isn’t supporting" me or I "can’t support myself").
When you think about it, your spine's job is to be strong, support your body structure, and to help you move forward. So perhaps it does make sense then that if you have any energetic/emotional "stress" around your lumbar spine (aka pain) you're likely to have been feeling unsupported in some way. I recently worked with a client to help resolve a case of chronic (4 years) low back pain. What I learnt was that this client (let’s call her Denise) had very strong feelings and emotions around an extremely supportive close friend who had moved away from the vicinity 4 years previously. Denise was very upset when she learned that she'd be losing connection with someone who had always shown her great love and support in life; a very dear friend that my client perceived as a "support system" (her own words!) who would be moving away into a new life situation where the friend, too, "would not be supported". This powerful mind-emotion-body connection isn't just fanciful musings. It's actually supported not only by the Jane Oelke study above, but by countless other studies in the field of Lifestyle Medicine too.
The beauty is that you can take this principle for yourself, and start considering how it unfolds in your own life.
Perhaps you been experiencing chronic muscular pain for yourself? If so, do you think a lot about your own "support system" (lack of financial support, lack of support from a loved one or partner, or worries about being able to support yourself)?
There is always SOMEthing you can DO to improve your health, often in ways you may not previously have thought possible. As we find out more and more about the workings of our bodies, and the Mind-Brain-Body-Emotion connection, even more options and choices become available to us on our own health and wellbeing journeys.