“Don’t Worry About It”

don't get upset

Phrases can be well meaning but often gloss over how we truly feel

Could ‘innocent’ phrases like this affect our health?

When I spent a year in Australia back in 2005, one of my favourite hobbies was learning the local lingo. I became adept at using phrases like “no worries” or “no dramas”.

While on a little trip to Darwin, a guy offered to help a friend and I find a suitable didgeridoo to buy. I would pick one up, try to play it and only manage to get a horrendous squealing sound from it.

The guy helping us, came along, would play it and got the perfect sound from it every time! When we left the shop, I thanked the guy and he responded with the phrase “too easy”.

I thought this was fantastic. I used the phrase whenever I could fit it into a sentence, usually inappropriately (if it can be inappropriate to use a phrase like that). So my Australian education continued…

In my professional work I saw clients with chronic conditions such  migrainesIrritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Chronic Fatigue – it got me wondering…. Were phrases like this contributing to our health problems? If you’re lost, bear with me…

While I’m not for a minute suggesting the nice guy that helped me find a didgeridoo was unhappy helping me out, I was curious to see if phrases like this in other situations, glossed over the truth of how we feel and impact on our health.

By using phrases like this, or ones like “don’t be angry with me”, “chill out” or “don’t get upset”, we are assuming that we have control over how our emotions arise…this just isn’t the case.

We feel emotions very physically, perhaps in the pit of our stomach or even as a gut feeling. This is the true nature of emotions, ones that we feel very physically, not evident through conscious thought. They stem from the mid-brain and rest of the body.

We can change how we think about these emotions as much as we wish but the emotions persist, a bit like sitting on a pin – your body sends you a sharp pain. You can shout & scream or even try think positively but until you remove the pin, your body keeps sending the symptom or message.

Put simply, our body has an emotional response to the world around us. With Health Recovery Therapy, I help people to identify these signals the body sends and find a constructive outlet for the emotion in order that it doesn’t develop into a physical symptom or if it does, how to stop it.

Just thinking differently isn’t enough

I know of a client who was asked in a therapy session how he felt about a particular situation. When he remarked “inner peace”, the therapist stood on his foot and said “do you still feel inner peace now?”

While this is a harsh example, it again, starkly illustrates, that whatever we may be thinking doesn’t necessarily reflect how we truly feel.

This is even more evident when we look at many health conditions. I often think of emotions as the body whispering us a message, which if it goes unattended or is missed, becomes a physical symptom or the body’s way of shouting a message to us. Unless the body sees a constructive or appropriate action, it just keeps sending the symptom.

For example, you may have money troubles and you mention this to someone. If the response back is “forget about it” not only is that not helpful to you, but your body keeps sending the message that you are worrying about it. Instead, a way of ‘constructively worrying’ could be to draw up a budget or meet with the bank manager or see if you can get some extra hours at work, but taking an action that we can control. That’s the true nature of listening and acting on what our body is saying. That’s when the body gets the message and doesn’t need to send us symptoms.

So perhaps next time you use a phrase like ‘no dramas’ or ‘no worries’ think what it may be doing to your health!

Saul Levitt, Health Recovery Therapy

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