We understand that our thoughts, emotions and physical symptoms are intertwined. Everyone understands blushing or crying as a physical response to our inner world. But just how does our mental and emotional world affect us and what is at the top? Where does it all start? I like to think of this puzzle as a sort of waterfall with a cascading effect. At the top is our thoughts, our mental state. Because like it or not, our brains are always thinking, scanning, and analyzing. Evolutionarily speaking, our brain IS our greatest defense. Our thoughts then affect our emotions. Don’t believe me? Someone who absolutely believes that they will have a better life after this one, will have very little fear of death. Contrast that with me, who is ambivalent about an afterlife; I will have big emotions when the time comes for me to die assuming that I know it’s imminent. Our emotions then affect our physiological responses. Our sympathetic nervous system sends a host of electrical signals to all parts of the body which then cascades into chemical changes. We’ve already talked about blushing and crying as physiological changes. Add to it, muscle tension, heart rate, blood flow, sweating, gastrointestinal motility, etc etc etc. The list is long and covers the whole physical body system. This then is the cascade. Thoughts>Emotions>Sympathetic Nervous System>Physical. See also this blog from my website: https://www.pathsbeyondpain.com/post/how-the-pain-cycle-is-created-1 Clearly then, all sorts of pain symptoms can also be activated from a chronic state of nervous system activation. And this my friends, is how we all get chronic pain and anxiety. Remember, this differs from acute injury, infection or illness. Now, it’s important to note here that thoughts and emotions can be trapped from trauma suffered in earlier times, current stressors, or can be as simple as fear of the symptoms themselves. Any emotion will feed the nervous system and all of our thoughts have the potential to cascade into emotions. But, we can affect this cascade effect at the source, our brains and all the amazing wonderful thoughts we think. More on that in my next post!