This morning, my loved one warned me, “Life is not ‘for getting.’ Life is ‘for giving,’ and in order to do that, you need to be forgiving to others—especially those who did not give you what you thought you were going to get.” I’m not sure where my loved one found this quote. She did recommend the book Conversations with God, which I downloaded today. Perhaps that’s the source.
So, why did she share this warning? Well, because I harbor anger, fear, worry, unforgiveness. We all do at times, don’t we? That is, until we learn healthier ways to cope.
And when we don’t “give,” when we instead expect to “get,” when we can’t forgive, well, we can come down with disease. I read that negative thoughts—like unforgiveness and anger—collect in pockets in our brain. And these pockets can add up to cancer. Author R. Huntington says, “Note that there are various studies that prove that eighty-five percent of harmful diseases like cancer are due to emotional factors. Learn how to effectively manage your stress levels and handle unresolved emotional issues” (Huntington, location 293 of 319, 92%). In other words, thoughts can kill.*
I disclosed to my loved my burden of anger toward my family. She said she’s amazed I’m still functioning. But I’m not functioning well. Recently, I came down with chronic tension headaches. But the interesting thing is that I have zero pain when I first awake. But within minutes of waking up, the brain tension strikes. So, what happens during those first few minutes of waking up? Well, my thoughts settle in—thoughts of victimhood, of fear, of anger. I’m the black sheep in my family. And now I’m estranged from most of my family members.
My mom is getting old, and I don’t think we’ll ever heal our relationship. But I read Buddhist books saying that, if not for our mothers, we wouldn’t have been born, been raised, been fed, been bathed, been clothed, been loved. So, one way to find forgiveness involves not discounting the positives. After all, we couldn’t have survived without our mothers.
Now, to heal my aching brain, I hope to free myself of trapped thoughts. But we almost all need to free ourselves of trapped thoughts. That’s because we all suffer negative thoughts at times. It’s the nature of being human.
This morning, I thought of ways to heal my chronic tension headaches. I phoned an acupuncturist. I began giving myself scalp massages. I created affirmations that challenged automatic negative thoughts. Yes, I’d stop blaming others. I’d quit calling myself names. I’d avoid saying words like “should,” “must,” “always,” or “never.”
And then I read up on foods for brain health. I could try a liver detox. I could start eating walnuts and keep up my exercise. I could try new hobbies and learn new skills to boost self-esteem.
All these things help heal the brain. But they may not heal the broken heart whose cries echo throughout the brain. For that healing, I called upon spirituality. I now listen to the book Conversations with God and revisit my Buddhist books and Christian Bible. I also boosted my time spent meditating using the Wim Hof method. As well, I added loving kindness meditation. All in one day.
But, most of all, I’ve begun to forgive. After all, “life is not ‘for getting.’ Life is ‘for giving.’”
* People with intrusive thoughts due to obsessive compulsive disorder have no control over their thoughts. Thus (from an empathic point-of-view), the rule “thoughts can kill” may not necessarily apply to them.