Communication for health is all about emotional awareness. In Chinese medicine, we recognize that unexpressed feelings generate stress in the body, which damages our health. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty understanding their feelings, leading to unexpressed frustrations. These are reasonable people with the best intentions of being good communicators but lack the emotional capacity to know their feelings. Let’s call this type of person “feelings-challenged!”
Feelings-challenged individuals can get in touch with their emotions with some help from acupuncture, as you will see below. This help is critically important because good communication helps preserve our well-being and helps those around us. Today’s blog post explores the concept of communication for health.
Communication for Health
Suppose you’re having a conversation with a family member, and they say something that triggers you. Many of us who fall into the “feelings-challenged” ilk may not be conscious of being thrown off balance. Instead, we may start feeling uneasy without knowing why. Someone observing us would sense that something was wrong while we remain clueless about the shift in emotion.
But even though we may not be conscious of the matter emotionally, it is still affecting us physiologically (in our bodies). In Chinese medicine, we describe this situation as “qi stagnation” – when an emotion (felt or unfelt) causes the flow of energy in our body to get stuck. The physical symptoms we can feel from qi stagnation include a generalized sense of stuckness, unease, agitation, anxiety, or edginess.
Beach Plans Canceled
Here’s an excellent example of the importance of communication for health. Let’s say you have your heart set on going to the beach for the weekend with a good friend, and at the last minute, your friend calls to say they tested positive for Covid. Of course, your first reaction is a concern for your friend. But do you allow yourself also to feel disappointed about the derailed plans?
Feelings-challenged individuals tend to unconsciously suppress what they perceive as “selfish” feelings of disappointment, keeping their focus on concern for their sick friend. But this repression of legitimate feelings of disappointment will inevitably trigger qi stagnation every time – causing stress to build up in the body.
The Problem With Qi Stagnation
You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal about stuck energy? So what if the energy is not ‘flowing’ properly? It’s so subtle that I don’t even feel it”. You’re right that it’s subtle, but it impacts our bodies significantly. Stuck qi is the root cause of most pain syndromes and many diseases that trouble us as we get older.
For instance, a repressed feeling of frustration may trigger qi stagnation in the channels of the neck, causing neck pain or migraines. Alternatively, stuck qi can overact on the stomach, leading to bloating pain or bowel irregularity (IBS). One of the great benefits of acupuncture is that it quickly and effectively moves stuck qi, easing tension and promoting healing within the body.
Communication and Qi
Feelings-challenged people have difficulty communicating with the people closest to them. While unintentional, the impact can be significant on the people we care about the most. For example, if a friend says something that triggers me, I should acknowledge it and say something to the effect of, “Hey, I know you don’t mean it in a wrong way, but what you just said makes me feel upset (uneasy, concerned, confused, etc.)
By not expressing my feelings, my qi immediately starts to stagnate, causing physiological changes in my demeanor. I may become more quiet, reserved, and withdrawn, or the opposite – short and irritable. My friend will not know what triggered this reaction – but he will undoubtedly feel the emotional assault. The irony is that my response will most likely cause my friend’s qi to stagnate as well, and the next thing you know, both of us will be feeling bad!
Learning To Communicate
Communication for health is all about tuning in to your emotions, so you can be aware of feelings as they arise when interacting with others. For feelings-challenged people who are overwhelmed with this prospect, I recommend trying a few acupuncture treatments to get your qi moving. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as you naturally become feelings-gifted, or at least feelings-able. Expressing your emotions will help improve your health and the health of those around you.
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