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  • David Bloomfield

#25 Sharing some things that I’ve Read, Heard & Seen

What I’ve Read

When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress - Gabor Mate the book from the amazing talk from Dr Maté which I attended earlier this year (click here to see my notes). Drawing on deep scientific research, this is a fascinating insight into principles for healing and prevention of illness from hidden stress.

Some things I learned and found useful

Medical thinking usually sees stress as a highly disturbing but isolated event, but the chronic daily stresses in peoples lives are more harmful in their long-term biological consequences. Internally generated stresses take their toll without in any way seeming out of the ordinary.

For those habituated to high levels of internal stress from childhood, it is the absence of stress that causes unease and a sense of meaningless - people may become addicted to their stress hormones, cortisol & adrenaline

Stress responses that are triggered without resolution, produce harm and even permanent damage. Chronically high cortisol levels destroy tissue. chronically elevated adrenaline levels raise the blood pressure and damage the heart.

Under conditions of chronic stress the immune system may become either too confused to recognise the mutated cell clones that form cancer or too debilitated to mount an effective attack against them. There is extensive documentation of the inhibiting effect of chronic stress on the immune system, with the functioning of natural killer cells being significantly suppressed.

The fight or flight response was indisputable in the era when humans had to confront a natural world of predators and other dangers. In a civilised society however the fight flight reaction is triggered in situations where it is neither necessary or helpful. Since we no longer face the same mortal threats to existence the bodies psychological stress mechanisms are often triggered inappropriately leading to disease. What has happened is that we have lost touch with the gut feelings designed to be a warning system. The body mounts a stress response, but the mind is unaware of the threat. We keep ourselves in psychologically stressful situations, with only a dim awareness of distress or no awareness at all.

Stress occurs in the absence of these criteria

  • The capacity to feel our emotions, so that we are aware when we are experiencing stress

  • The ability to express our emotions effectively and thereby assert our needs and to maintain the integrity of our emotional boundaries

  • The facility to distinguish between psychological reactions that are pertinent to the present situation and those that represent residue from the past. What we want to demand from the world needs to conform to our present needs, not to unconscious, and unsatisfied needs from childhood. If distinctions between past and present blur we will perceive a loss or the threat of loss when none exists

  • The awareness of those genuine needs that do require satisfaction, rather than their oppression for the sake of gaining acceptance or approval of others.

The Seven As of healing to help us grow in emotional competence

  1. Acceptance - A compassionate relationship with oneself, to permit negative thinking to inform our understanding without allowing it to define our approach

  2. Awareness - learn to read the symptoms not only as problems to overcome but as messages to be heeded. The psychological danger signals: fatigue, sweating, headaches, backaches, emotional tension, diarrhoea, anxiety and behavioural signals such as irritability or overreaction.

  3. Anger - There is a dilemma to be managed as both the expression of anger and repression of anger is harmful. with repression of anger a major risk factor for disease as it increases psychological stress on the organism. The answer: Healthy anger is an empowerment and a relaxation. depending on the circumstance, you may choose to manifest the anger or in some way let it go. the key is not to repress it.

  4. Autonomy - people at the greatest risk are those who experienced the most severe boundary invasions before they were able to construct an autonomous sense of self and becomes a template for how they connect with the rest of the world.

  5. Attachment - our connection with the world, people without social contact - the lonely ones face worse prognosis no matter what the disease

  6. Assertion - the deceleration to ourselves and the world - we are who we are. A positive valuation of ourselves independent from our history, abilities or perceptions of us. letting go of the very need to act

  7. Affirmation - when we make a positive statement we move towards something of value that can assist us to heal and remain whole.

What I've Heard

Mike Tyson’s road to a second chance - Firstly, wow! I never expected such a sensitive soul - so whatever you think about him, it is a MUST that you listen to this, I was blown away.

He talks about that infamous Holyfield fight and his struggles since, how he come through - rising from the darkest depths a true inspiration of grit and determination.

"The guy I was from the past could no longer project anything kindly to my future. So he had to die, and I had to be a different person" - Mike Tyson

You can only truly can understand somebody when you understand the environment and context of their lives and that is certainly the case for Tyson. Brought up in a world that's so difficult to truly relate to for so many of us before finding his father figure and role model Cus D’Amato (his legendary trainer and the guy who said - "Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face" - one of my favourite quotes).

I love the story because it shows compassion from brutality and from hysteria to calmness. Wherever you are in life there is a way back to take responsibility

What I've Seen

The Netflix documentary - what the health

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food - Hippocrates

A documentary with an agenda and in places the language hyperbolic, I have no idea whether the studies quoted here are cherry picked or well researched, peer reviewed studies. BUT what I do know is that for me personally eating plant based foods and removing dairy from my diet has given me a vitality and alertness on a scale that I've never experienced. take a look but don't let the critic in you overlook things in here which make sense to you and drive you to action!

Disclaimer: My move to a plant based diet and was not triggered by watching this but a long transition fuelled by experimentation and other mentors to healthier eating and lifestyle.

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