Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned ~ Buddha
It has been said that anger and resentment can make us sick - to the point of causing cancer - and that for healing to occur, we have to practice the art of forgiveness. Holding onto grudges can certainly eat away at us from the inside, much like a cancerous tumor. Let's consider the possibility of anger as a risk factor for cancer, as you would nutrition, obesity or genetics. What exactly would this mean? Risk factors are used to identify groups of people who may be more likely to develop an illness. It doesn’t mean a person will get sick, but it does give them something to watch out for. In the case of anger and resentment, they can also point out behavioral patterns that need to be changed in order to the release that emotional burden.
How do emotions affect the physical body?
The human body has a tendency to absorb emotions during daily interactions. Think back to the last time you were left speechless during a blistering argument. Where did that tension go? Maybe your throat tightened up, or perhaps you let it out with an exasperated groan. These commonplace emotions take a toll on our wellbeing when tense energy is repeatedly sent to the same place in the body. It might be the stomach, the back or in highly aggravating circumstances, the liver and pancreas. Intuitive Healers get a sense of what may be going on in a client’s life by tuning into the body's many organs.
With time patterns emerge. The pain of betrayal is often held in the pancreas because of its proximity with the heart and those we hold dear. It might be bitterness with life at the loss of a child or the betrayal of a spouse. Intense emotions, pain and grief are to be expected in these circumstances, but they still wreak havoc on our emotional and physical health if we do not heal and release the pain, in time. While this prediction may seem dark, thinking of your emotional state as a risk factor for disease will empower you. Everyone feels the pain of disappointment or betrayal at some point. It's how we cope that matters. Part of self-healing involves clearing and releasing this energy through meditation, journaling and other activities.
The role of anger, resentment and grief
In her groundbreaking book You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay tells us that fearful and angry thinking is at the root of every disease. These thoughts are powerful because they express our feelings and beliefs about the world. Have the people in your life lived up to expectations of trust and loyalty? For example, did your brother cross an unforgivable line when he left the family business and set up shop across the street? What about a twist of fate that takes a person’s dreams and crushes them? Whereas fear has a tendency to paralyze, figuratively or literally, deeply held anger poisons the well. Those feelings may be justified but the long-term effects are the same. Holding onto anger and resentment distorts the way we engage with life. When we speak of forgiveness, it's peace of mind and body that we are after.
Grief has a similar effect on the body. Intuitive Healers are taught to ask about a person's life in the years leading up to a cancer diagnosis. Did anything change; for example, were there blows to their personal, professional or family life? How did they cope and are the emotions still raw? Based on anecdotal evidence, Intuitive Healers operate under the assumption that grief is a risk factor for cancer. In these cases, one would complement medical care with emotional healing to release the energy of grief, anger or pain from the body. Self-healing is an ongoing process, one that involves plenty of self-love, compassion and patience.
Anecdotal evidence is not likely to sway the scientific community on the subject of emotional risk factors, as individual cases don’t have the statistical significance to predict an outcome. Rather that confidence can be found in randomized control trials (RCTs) where large patient groups are observed methodically and objectively. This is why a recent study at Peking Union Medical College is so promising. A systematic review of multiple RCTs has found a link between “striking life events” and primary breast cancer. These events may include the death of a family member, divorce, financial troubles, retirement, unemployment and relocation. While the researchers indicate the need for further studies to understand the connection between acute stress, grief and cancer, they also conclude that “women with striking life events were at 1.5-fold higher risk of developing breast cancer than women without…” (1)
Given these findings, it’s crucial to make self-healing a part of our daily lives. Ideally the healing journey would begin when the striking life event takes place. If we wait for pain to manifest as a serious disease then more pressing considerations take precedence. Introducing the concept of emotional risk factors at that point could add confusion to an already overwhelming situation. Once the medical urgency has been addressed, the patient will once again have the frame of mind for introspection and self-healing. In the short term, the priority should be placed on medical intervention and stress relief to help them through the crisis.
Can we to be too kind for our own good?
What about cancer patients who are sweet as cotton candy, the ones who wouldn’t hold a grudge and are quick to let things slide? On the surface this theory does not apply to them. The truth is we all feel the pain of disappointment, but not everyone is comfortable expressing ugly or negative emotions. In their book Why People Get Ill, Darien Leader and David Corfield describe what they refer to as Type C Personalities: typically kind, non-confrontational and more often than not, quick to repress negative emotions (2). Though outwardly peaceful, the physical body is likely to absorb this energy.
Let’s keep in mind that compassion, forgiveness and denial have very different vibrations. Denying our true feelings only leaves them to simmer until they resurface at a later date. Eventually the human body starts to resent accumulation of unhealthy energy and the behavioral patterns that put it there. Our beliefs, behaviors and actions are at odds with the body’s intuitive need for balance and self-respect. In these cases, the healing journey would involve medical intervention, introspection and a change of consciousness so that tense energy is healed and released on a daily basis, and not stored.
Does this mean illnesses are “our fault?”
Not at all! Blaming ourselves for an illness would be missing the mark. Not to mention the unnecessary stress and pressure. The idea is to find peace with compassion, healing and forgiveness. The weight that individual risk factors carry will also vary from person to person. Take what resonates and leave the rest.
(1) Yan Lin, Changjun Wang et al. Striking life events associated with primary breast cancer susceptibility in women: a meta-analysis study. Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 2013, 32:53. www.jeccr.com/content/32/1/53
About the Author. Can anyone learn to channel healing and shift his or her life in a new direction? Of course! This startling discovery led Regina Chouza to become an Accredited Healer, blogger and teacher. Her first book A Personal Guide to Self-Healing, Cancer & Love, is available on Amazon. Visit www.diaryofapsychichealer.com for details or tweet a question @reginachouza. www.facebook.com/diaryofapsychichealer