What is wellness?
Mind and Body
Wellness is a balance of mind and body; each affects the other. Psychotherapy, which is my mind/body profession, addresses this synergy. Neuroscience increasingly proves the impact of thoughts, feelings, memories, relationships, and all parts of the “psychological” you, on your physical energy, mood, patterns of thinking, quality of connection to others, and the like. As a psychotherapist I address the crossover of mind and body to increase capacities for love and work.
Here’s an example. A young man, Mr. X, who had been in a long but unsatisfying relationship was anxious about beginning to date again. His mind was forecasting rejection or disappointment, which were what he had felt as his old relationship fell apart. He also anticipated betrayal, since his partner had cheated on him. These thoughts and his grief at a lost love created anxiety that made him tired, uninterested in much of anything, and also reluctant to take a chance on approaching someone new.
Feeling overwhelmed like this is depressing, and depression makes expectations grim. This is how anxiety and depression work on body and mind. Once encoded, no amount of effort to cheer a person up will work. Mr. X needs psychotherapy to untangle these assumptions that have become “wired in.”
What does psychotherapy do to make this change happen? On the level of thought it guides Mr. X toward identifying his now-embedded assumptions. The emotional expectations also have to be addressed: neurological tracks have been laid that need reconstruction. Sharing the feelings of disappointment and rejection with a trusted human being relieves self-judgment and shame about a failed relationship and the hurt that followed. Easing the emotional load of loss makes room for hope. The relationship with the therapist creates a new set of thoughts, feelings and neural pathways where acceptance, affirmation, hope, respect and the like become part of the mind/body equation.
For some people, and Mr. X was one, therapeutic relief from immediate crushing despair may also lead to an interest in further exploring core beliefs from the past that play a part in other relationships. Self-sabotage can be left behind. Today’s story is written in large part by what we bring from stories of the past. Psychotherapy helps us rewrite the parts of those stories that have become self-defeating habits, attitudes, behaviors and assumptions.