Emotions are what we live and die for. Diseases are what we die from. — The Balance Within, Esther Sternberg
That is not to say, Dr. Esther Sternberg goes on to write, that anger, envy, sorrow, or love may not collaborate to help precipitate or negate illness in the body. In fact, that’s just what the research director for the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, at the University of Arizona at Tucson, argues in favor of. Our emotions are a critical element of how our physical body grows (or not) sickens (or not) and dies (or … um, yep, this one isn’t optional).
But while it’s nice to imagine that I can bust up kidney stones, for instance, by raising my love frequency and visualizing angels hurling talcum-scented bowling balls at the renal calculosis, emotions are only part of the equation.
Emotions come from somewhere, too. They’re spawned by our thoughts and beliefs. Another reason why psychotherapy (or innate self knowledge, for you fortunate few) is supposed to be such a help.
Say I believe deep down I’m a withered-scrotal-sack-sucking bag of vile putrescence. I’d be more likely to have depression than someone who believes they’re just as good as anyone else on this rock: no better, no worse. Simple. More difficult is why I should think that I’m a withered-scrotal-sack-sucking bag of what have you. (Which is my firm conviction, deep down. The theoretical I posed wasn’t rhetorical, after all.)
Of course, I’m not as bad as all that. My logical mind knows that. I can list dozens of positive qualities about myself and scratch off dozens of negative traits and behaviors that are the fault of my depression — a depression that most of the time I can’t do anything about. And still when I argue down into myself over my loathing and despair the emotive fire points back at me. I hate myself and I don’t know why.
The faintest of whispers on the hiking trail yesterday suggested it may have to do with an historical inability/unwillingness to say things that hurt others. That thing about not loving my wife and knowing it before we got married, for instance. But it goes back further.
I’ve gone down crooked paths believing my good intentions would straighten them out in the end. (They don’t.)
As far as ideology: I’ve struggled after atheism, preached the Gospel, explored Buddhism, admired secular humanism, and been enraptured by the wonders of evolutionary biology and the natural world. Called after UFOs with a crystal wand. What do I believe? Which is the path — the belief — to break this brain’s pattern of self abasement? What’s the truth?
All I can say for sure this morning is that I’m willing to be an ass to be happy — or if not “happy,” reasonably content and non-self-destructive. Exercise and eating well, that stuff seems easy compared to to the task of correcting erroneous internal convictions. After all, evolution has us hard-wired to lie to ourselves, is it even possible to get a clear snapshot of what is? And would I really believe anything to feel better?