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How Do Your Thoughts Affect Your Body?

Thought Series Part 3

Are you aware of how your thoughts impact your body and your physiology? Most of us are not conscious of the extent to which our thoughts can influence our bodies’ functions. It’s pretty fascinating how much power our thoughts have, not just over our emotions but also over our bodies.

In today’s post we’re going to explore how your thoughts impact your physiology.

Physiology: the branch of biology that deals with the normal functions of living organisms (humans, in this case) and their parts.

The Thought Series So Far

Last week we looked at the first two steps involved in changing your negative thoughts:

Step 1: Identifying Automatic Negative Thoughts (“ANTS”)

Step 2: Identifying the Emotions That Arise When You Have an ANT

If you missed either of the first two blog posts, you can go back and catch up by clicking HERE, or you can simply read this post on its own.

Today we are going to look at the third step:

Step 3: Recognizing the Physiological Changes that Result From ANTs

Start by choosing an ANT to work with. I’m going to continue using, “I’m going to be alone forever.” So far I’ve recorded the following for this thought:

ANT: I am going to be alone forever.

EMOTIONS: Sad, defeated.

Now we are going to add the physiological impact of the thought:

  • Notice where in your body you are feeling the emotions. For example if you feel sad, is it in your chest, in your stomach, or in your throat? All of the above? Or somewhere else?

  • Describe to yourself the sensation of those emotions. Is the feeling in your chest heaviness? Is your stomach clenched? Is there a lump in your throat? Whether you feel pressure, tingling or sharp pain associated with the emotion that you're feeling, simply observe and take note.

When I have the thought, "I'm going to be alone forever," I feel sad and defeated. I feel heaviness in my chest, tightening around my mouth and a twitching near my eyes. I also feel a little bit of fluttering in my stomach. This one thought leads to several sensations in my body, sensations which I find fairly unpleasant, uncomfortable and at times upsetting.

ANT: I am going to be alone forever.

EMOTIONS: Sad, defeated.

PHYSIOLOGICAL IMPACT: Heaviness in my chest, tightening around my mouth, twitching near my eyes and fluttering in my stomach.

“I am going to be alone forever.” Seven words. Seven simple words can cause so much distress. It’s pretty incredible, no?

Now is the time to pick up your thought work again. Go through each of the ANTs you’re working with, tune in to your body to feel how they impact your physiology when you think them, and note down the sensations. Right now we’re still in the information gathering stage. You don’t need to do anything except observe for a little while longer.

On Wednesday, we’re going to be looking at how our thoughts affect our behaviour. Stay tuned!

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