Many ancient cultures believed that the spiritual realm had a big impact on the physical world that we perceive with our senses. And today, empirical science is showing that their view of reality carries a number of benefits to our overall wellbeing.
One way to look at it is that “thoughts create chemicals” inside us. So the way you think about your life, your relationships, and your world, profoundly affect your mental health and – by extension – your physical health.
Many folks can attest to what a relief it can be to “get things off your chest.” But as ancient peoples understood, the healing power of story goes much further and deeper than that.
When you express, in words, the deepest feelings and stories of your life, something miraculous occurs.
Speaking your truth soothes your nervous system, releasing hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, nitric oxide, and endorphins, which are agents of bodily repair and pleasant feelings!
Once your nervous system is relaxed, you can rest well, fight illness, and focus on living your best life. You can release relationship pressures, break unhealthy cycles, and clarify your purpose.
According to Dr. Suzanne Koven (a highly regarded internal medicine practitioner and published medical writer) of Harvard School of Medicine, stories are central to medicine.
There is a type of medical therapy called Narrative Medicine where the patient is encouraged to talk about his or her job, romantic relationships, family ties, and sense of purpose in life, and only after this does the discussion come round to physical health.
This is how you get to the root of illness. “Aha!” moments arise from telling your stories and pathways to health and happiness come clearer into view.
Healing is not a clear-cut linear process. But as you share your stories from the deepest places within you, and someone listens to you with intention and care, you can feel a fundamental shift in your body and spirit.
Begin by asking yourself these 5 questions:
- What is preventing me from being peaceful/happy in this moment? (If it’s something material, what feeling of relief would that thing bring me?)
- When is the last time I put myself outside my comfort zone? What was it, and what was my motivation for doing it?
- What is one difficult conversation that I’ve been putting off having with my spouse, best friend, or close family member (mother, father, sibling)?
- What is one difficult conversation that I’ve been putting off having with myself?
- Years from now, when I’m breathing my final breaths, what advice would this future me give the now me?
Knowing the truth of what is holding you back – right in this moment – is the first critical step on the healing path.
It takes a little bit of bravery to go there, but it’s well worth it!