Can Pain Be Your Friend? The Link Between Emotions and Physical Health

Have you ever bumped your knee, dropped something and nicked your finger all in one day, only to discover that you are moving way too fast?  Or, have you ever had a sore throat, only to realize that it was because you weren’t expressing something verbally that you needed to say?

As I’ve become more aware of my mind/body connection over the years, I truly believe that when I get sick or hurt it does not happen by chance.  Usually, it is due to not expressing my feelings or overexerting myself in some way.

It’s almost as if I have an internal scale and it becomes off-balance when I do not listen to what my body is telling me.  For example, when I suddenly get hit with a stomachache or headache, it is an important signal to let me know I am out of balance and not paying attention to an important emotion.

The link between emotions and physical pain is very real.  So, what can you do about it?  Can pain be your friend?

When this happens, I stop what I am doing and become present to the moment.  I close my eyes and tune into my body.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as taking a break from the computer when I get a headache.

In other instances it’s more complicated and can run much deeper, sourcing from emotional pain from the past.  A headache may develop in response to an emotion triggered hours before. Arthritis pain may stem from an emotional reaction that began decades ago. It is easy to see how the cause of a pain can be overlooked.

So, how can you figure out what’s behind your pain?

Perhaps the best road map to the emotional roots of physical pain and illness is a book by Louise Hay entitled You Can Heal Your Life.  I’ve used this book as a tool to solve various what-does-pain-have-to-do-with-it emotional puzzles.

Louise Hay looks at all the body parts and a variety of major diseases, and gives us the emotional counterpart for each. Her insights may not cover every situation, but I’ve consistently found them to be in the ballpark.

According to Hay, the most common physical problems linked to emotional well-being are stomachache and headache, and can be caused by any kind of strain. Back pain has been attributed to a feeling of not being emotionally supported, or to feeling that you’ve lost your path or aren’t fulfilling your purpose.

Knee problems can be due to fear of “stepping forward” in your life. Asthma, especially in childhood, has been linked to a feeling of smothering or too much control. Cancer is related to self-hatred, and fibromyalgia and other degenerative diseases to a deep feeling of unworthiness and abnegation of self.  Thyroid has to do with the voice, expressing yourself and feeling that you are heard.

In another more scientific example, the article,  “Does Your Heart Sense Your Emotional State?” on MSN Today Health by HeartMath explores the relationship between heart health and emotions.

Research explains how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions and why certain emotions stress the body and drain our energy. As we experience feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity, our heart rhythm patterns become more erratic. These erratic patterns are sent to the emotional centers in the brain, which it recognizes as negative or stressful feelings.

These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and the body and can block our ability to think clearly.  If we consistently experience these emotions, it can put a strain on the heart and other organs, and eventually lead to serious health problems.

So, can pain be your friend?

In a word, yes.  It’s proven that our bodies manifest health with positive thoughts and feelings and illness with negative thoughts and feelings. Pain can truly be one of our greatest teachers about what is going on inside our hearts and minds and an important signal how to heal ourselves.

Our job is to pay attention to our body and its messages.  Tune in.  Check it out.  Explore.  Because there is a reason you are feeling the way you do and a way to feel better.


With this short, simple (and free!) guided meditation.