When we were little, sitting in a waiting room or a car, we’d whine to our parents, “Mom, this is so boring.” And Mom would usually respond with some form of, “This isn’t boring, you’re bored because of your attitude.” You’d roll your eyes and cross your arms and pout, like the 6-year-old you were. Mom was just trying to stop you from getting worked up in a public space – but she wasn’t wrong. In fact, she was on to something important.
Your outlook on any given situation affects your experience of it. This has been well-observed in the field of psychology; there’s even a specific type of therapy for it called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The idea is that your thoughts (cognitions) affect your actions (behaviors) and therefore, your experience of life. CBT has proven effective treatment for people with anxiety, depression, mild mood disorders and PTSD.
But when it comes to thinking positively, that’s not where it ends. Your outlook on a given situation, and your attitude through a difficult time, such as a prolonged illness, chronic pain disorder or major injury, can affect the physical processes within your body. This is part of the mystery of the mind-body connection; no condition is purelybiological. You have a level of power in your physical wellness by properly structuring and caring for your mental wellness.
At Some Point, Anecdotes Become Evidence
We’ve all heard the anecdotes: “Think positive”; “Look at the glass half full”; “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”. These are more than just encouragements, and medical science is beginning to accept that, to achieve physical wellness, comprehensive treatment is key. That means taking care of your “self” in all its facets – mind and body.
On the negative side of things, studies have shown that negative attitudes about health fuel depression. That depression affects your body’s hormones, which weaken your immune system. A weaker immune system means more susceptibility to illness, and a limited ability to heal from illness or injury. Read: a bad attitude makes you physically weaker.
It’s similar with anxiety and/or chronic stress. Periods of high, chronic stress can result in high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and can even trigger latent autoimmune diseases like lupus and alopecia. Likewise, those who suffer from fibromyalgia may notice that a really hard week at work is often followed by increased pain symptoms. This is again, because your psychological state has affected your body’s hormones and changed its physical processes – for the worse.
On the positive side of things, studies show that a positive outlook on life and aging can actually lower your risk for degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis, dementia and Alzheimer’s. A positive attitude can also reduce your risk of heart disease and keep your body more ready to ward off airborne viruses like COVID-19. It follows then, that a positive attitude also means less chance of developing depression and experiencing that cascade of health defects that results from depression. So, overall, it seems like Mom wasn’t lying when she said your outlook on a situation is the problem, not the situation itself.
Types of Thought-Directing Therapies to Consider
Okay, so how do you “Fake it ‘til you make it”? There are a few types of thought-based therapies to choose from. We briefly discussed CBT therapy, which works to retrain your brain’s responses and help you create better coping skills. The theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy is biologically-based: Build new thought patterns, train the brain, change the neural pathways, increase wellness. Another form of cognitive therapy, Cognitive Processing Therapy, which is specifically used for PTSD in trauma patients, uses this same theoretical framework.
There are a couple “attitude therapies” that are more based in holistic wellness than traditional psychology. Thought Field Therapy is another form of mind-body therapy. Developed about 20 years ago, TFT acknowledges the body’s energy fields and their role in physical wellness. It involves identifying and tapping on trigger points on the body. An effective TFT program will be tailored to your exact situations, health and goals, and has been shown to produce defensive affects against anxieties, phobias and PTSD. Emotional Freedom Therapy (EFT), an offshoot of TFT, is often derided as a generalized version of TFT because it tries to treat the entire range of emotions, whereas TFT allows you to focus in on specific negative emotions and triggers.
Regenerative Medicine in New York and Cincinnati: Thought Field Therapy
We refer patients suffering from mental and physical ailments for TFT from our Cincinnati and New York practices, because why prescribe patients SSRIs, benzos and opioids to cover their symptoms, when instead we can work with them on long-term solutions that increase their quality of life mentally as well as physically? Consistent, habitual work that includes holistic treatments like TFT are the solution to so many ailments. Wellness doctors everywhere see it all the time in their patients: comprehensive treatment, for any illness, is the best treatment. The mind-body connection might be mysterious and ephemeral, but it’s integral to health; its importance should not be overlooked.