Complaining is emotional smoking.
I remember once I read a book called a “Complaint Free World”. Great book. It basically suggested a total complaint fast for 40 days. It was REALLY hard. I pretty much relapsed every 20 minutes.
As I turned other people on to the book, most of them rejected the idea outright or intellectualized it away. We LOVE to complain because its one way we keep reinforcing our past self. It keeps who we think we are alive. I don’t mean to go all metaphsyical so early on here, but we are not who we think we are. Most of what we are is a reaction to our past that we keep alive in order to predict the future.
All healing, to a greater or lesser degree, requires that we literally break our addiction to that “past-present” personality which is creating our personal reality. Our personality is the sum total of the thoughts and feelings we have. No one can deny that the quality of our life is wholly determined by the quality of our emotions. Since our body is the objective evidence of our mind and emotions, as I’ll explain below”, it is mission critical to transform it for the better. If your body becomes your mind, as you’ll see in a few moments, in order to transform body you have to transform mind and emotion.
Lets break this down and go a little deeper.
Stay with me, you are super smart. The more you get this, the more the “how to fix it” gets easier and actually a lot more fun. This is how your “body” becomes your “mind”, and how things like complaining are literally like emotional smoking.
You think a thought and it creates a representation, or “picture”, or “image” in your mind. This “image” or “picture” then instantly triggers your mid brain (also known as the emotional brain, mammalian or mesencephalon) to secrete loads of chemicals and signals. This is important because the mid-brain is both the control tower of our “stress response” and also our subconscious mind (95% of our thoughts are actually not even conscious – they are “sub” conscious).
This midbrain sends these chemical and electrical signals down through the circulatory system and spinal cord to different areas of your body and those areas then create hormones.
Thats how your body becomes your mind. Pretty cool, right?
To get a bit more physiologically precise, our brain produces a thought which squirts little juices called neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters then signal the emotional brain (the mid brain) to squirt messengers called neuropeptides and other electrical signals to different organs and tissues in your body. These other organs will then secrete different hormones. Our body, over time, literally is formed, shaped, and molded by what we think and feel. Crazy, right?
Neurotransmitters to neuropeptides to hormones. They are called “ligands” – which is Latin for “link”. This is how mind and body are “linked”. I love that. I learned that from Joe Dispenza and it completely demystified the whole “MindBody” thing for me even though I had studied it for 20 years. Super cool.
Lets look at it another way. You have a presentation at your company or school coming up. The thought comes and you see the images of the talk. Like most of us, according to science from Martin Seligman, PhD, that thought will be negative. Scary fact: for the average person they think 80,000 thoughts per day and 80% are negative.
If your body becomes your mind, that is massively important to understand and change. You see the talk, you see your bosses, you see that colleague you don’t like, and you see yourself bombing the talk. Your brain squirts those neurotransmitters associated with hyper-vigilance and fear. A number of areas in your brain light up like fireworks.
In response, your mid brain sends its chemicals of emotions – neuropeptides of fear, self-doubt, envy, shame to different organs. In this case, the signal would likely go to your adrenal glands and your solar plexus causing a big release of the HORMONE cortisol, insulin, and others. Your thoughts and emotions triggered your body to live in the future. Your body just became your mind.
This is, for you yoga people, a great way to demystify “chakras” and take them out of mythology and folklore into the light of modern science. The Chakras are actually literally little brains with lots of nerves and glands and the emit hormones and broadcast a certain electromagnetic frequency. Thus, these energy centers, can get very out of balance and have dramatic influences on our health and happiness.
Here is another example. Lets say you are walking down the street and you see a person who you think is very beautiful and that you, perhaps, feel a physical attraction to. Your brain flashes as image and symbol, your mid brain sends an army of neuropeptides for the emotions of lust, longing, and the like and instantly the organs in your pelvis begin to produce a number of hormones associated with “sex drive”. In an instant, your body has become your mind.
I’ll talk more about this in my upcoming lecture September 8th at 6:30 pm (you can register here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSedrRGCkYnw2LZW0AB9F8iXMtALHk3ftlXT27nOwT-ZVDAlkw/viewform), but for now you can see how this mechanism is how your body becomes your mind. Its how our body gets stuck living in the past, never able to shed the layers of stress, tension, and trauma that build up. At the same time, we get stuck living in the future with our brain producing fear and worst-case scenarios about so many things. Your daily energy budget gets used up, over-spent, and exhausted by our tendency to live in fear, guilt, regret, and anxiety.
If our body becomes our mind then it is no surprise that most of the major diseases of our time are completely stress related (for a deeply scientific view of these see Gabor Mate’s When the Body Says No). It also affects our immunity and our energy levels. Lisa Feldman Barrett of Boston University cites in her landmark book, “How Emotions are Made” that if a virus lands in your nose your are 40% more likely to get sick if you are negative minded or, interestingly, introverted. Don’t worry introverts, I think that is the case because most of us can be quite wound up and anxious in public situations and therefore “stressed”. I am an introvert who happens to play in a lot of extroverted roles.
This brings us back to complaining, or, the new emotional smoking. When we complain, we are allowing, without awareness and mindfulness, for those stressful, fearful, angry, guilty, and envious thoughts and emotions to light up our body with toxic stress hormones. When you complain, you ravage your body. Cortisol alone breaks down your tendons, ligaments, immune system, and brain tissues. Heightened insulin destabilizes your blood sugar and aids in spiking inflammation. Your body becomes your thoughts. That’s not new age horse-crap, its real scientific physiology.
Here is a really cool story from NPR on how we can “map” emotions through the body using thermal imaging. Fascinating and more evidence that your body is your subconscious mind: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/12/30/258313116/mapping-emotions-on-the-body-love-makes-us-warm-all-over
I LOVE Joe Dispenza, and its through my work with him that I am able to articulate this. His books “Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself” and “You are The Placebo” outline in luminous clarity how to “un-become” your stressed self. According to Dr. Dispenza, complaining keeps teaching our body to re-affirm the fearful and stressed self. In neuroscience, there is a law that what fires together, wires together.
When you keep gossiping as a way to try to compensate for the fact that you feel insecure and unworthy, guess what happens? You keep teaching your body to feel insecure and unworthy. When you keep complaining in “justified” anger guess what is happening in your body? You are feeding miracle grow to those neural circuits that produce the chemicals of anger. your body BECOMES your mind. Then, you keep seeing things and people in your environment that reaffirm your identity as an angry person. After a while it has very little to do with what’s “out there”. When I got this, it totally changed my life.
When I complain, just like when I gossip, I am literally lighting up those nerve circuits in my brain and body were created out of response to stress. I keep the past alive by focusing on it. I keep a fearful future alive and real by focusing on it. Is it any surprise we have epidemics of stress related illness, chronic pain, depression, and anxiety? Sadly, there are whole industries built to profit on your pain without actually giving you the keys to your own freedom. As Plato taught, the prison door is actually open and you can get out of this mess anytime you want.
I was at a science museum today with my daughter Sienna. We went to an exhibit that used a hologram. In this box was a beautiful diamond. It looked so real. When you go to grab it, however, you can’t touch it. Its not really there. There is good evidence to suggest that our brain perceives the same way. The more we complain, the more we gossip, the more we listen to the demons of fear, the more we keep creating these holograms of stress that are not real, and yet our body keeps reacting as if they are. As Anais Nin stated, “we don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.”
I am NOT saying “don’t talk about whats real and whats important to your heart.” Owning and taking FULL responsibility for our feelings and speaking them out loud with trusted guides, friends, pastors, counselors, and healers is so healing. There is a reason its called the “talking cure”. When we speak from the heart with mindfulness, self-compassion, and radical honesty, we take our attention off the other person or situation and we place it on what we CAN change – our attitudes, our perceptions, our beliefs, and our behaviors. That is what matters most.
Honesty, integrity, radical self awareness are beautiful and powerful. They are the platform for transforming these patterns. Complaining is cheap fuel that pollutes the energy around you, leaves people and places worse than you found them, and punishes your body. Stop it.
Meditation, conscious breathing, mindful exercise, various bodywork modalities, EMDR, psychotherapy, NeuroEmotional Technique, Network Chiropractic – these are all just a few tools that help deconstruct the programmed self and help you create a new one.
You can be “right” all you want about whats wrong with this world and other people, but I can promise you’ll NEVER be happy. Empowered, vital, enlivened, joyful, and passionate people CAN change the world. They will also be a lot healthier than a bunch of burned out complaining and gossiping wind bags. From this position of Power we can positively transform our bodies, our schools, our communities, politics, and our respective countries.
If you’d like to dive deeper and see how my work helps your body heal from this cycle of stress and tension using modern science and ancient healing wisdom, come to my free workshop ‘Elixir: Activate your Healing Energy” this Sept 8 at 6:30. Please register here and come early, its already going to be a packed house. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSedrRGCkYnw2LZW0AB9F8iXMtALHk3ftlXT27nOwT-ZVDAlkw/viewform
Love you all. So much.
PS: Joe Dispenza is no longer going to be teaching his weekend long workshops anymore. If you feel the inclination, there is one in Texas in December that will be amazing. I’d love to see you there. All our practice members who have gone with us have been BLOWN away and a couple have had tremendous HEALINGS. Check it out.
PPS – Sound and vibration heals. I have two didgeridoo meditations coming up. One with Hillary Heath – a special small and intimate gathering at her yoga studio at Halo Healing arts – its an old school registration process – you gotta guy buy your ticket in person. Totally worth and Hillary is an absolute love. You can get more info here: https://www.facebook.com/events/212179629313793/?acontext=%7B%22action_history%22%3A%22[%7B%5C%22surface%5C%22%3A%5C%22page%5C%22%2C%5C%22mechanism%5C%22%3A%5C%22page_upcoming_events_card%5C%22%2C%5C%22extra_data%5C%22%3A%7D]%22%2C%22has_source%22%3Atrue%7D.
I’m also playing a “pure” didgeridoo meditation (no yoga) at Be Yoga October 7 – this is my signature Didgeridoo Vibrational Healing event which is a continuation of a tradition that has been handed down for thousands of years. We’ve had a number of spontaneous healings of all sorts of chronic challenges at these. Come and bask in the brilliant vibrations of the didgeridoo. I’ll also teach you some life-changing breathing techniques that help reverse all stress I wrote about in this article. Register here: https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/ws?studioid=11941&stype=-8&sView=day&sLoc=2&sTrn=100000091&sessionChecked=true