The Real Cause of Our Reactions
Any of us who drives in traffic, takes the bus, or takes the train to and from work knows about rush hour. It’s painfully slow, sometimes it feels like a parking lot, and there are tons of people scurrying to get to work all at the same time, doing it in a way we don’t always approve of. It’s challenging on the best of days. Involved in such situations, we tend to feel the stress of the moment and stressed at the people involved, which unlocks, or triggers, reactions and overreactions in us. Road rage is an obvious overreaction, but so is rolling down your window shouting obscenities at other drivers or cutting someone off to “teach them a lesson”.
If someone asked us why we’re reacting, we would probably blame the traffic and the people, as if it is these things outside of us causing our reactions and the resulting stress. Sounds logical and most people would agree. But we are going to go a level deeper on this to get to the truth about our reactions. When we do, we could say we are reacting to the limitation of time and space, the lack of movement (no one likes being stuck), or the actions of others, which is a lack of control on our part. We are getting closer to the real reasons we react. Let’s keep going.
It has been suggested to me by one of my consciousness colleagues that sitting in traffic isn’t normal. We weren’t meant to live this way, and so it is unnatural to us. Based on this, we rightly react to this misalignment. It is the reaction that leads us to change.
In fact, it is true. Sitting in rush hour traffic, going to work from 9-5, basically being sedentary all day isn’t normal to us. Various scientific studies certainly confirm this. But let’s go to the deepest level to see what our reactions to rush hour is really saying to us.
Reacting to rush hour traffic—the stuck feeling, the stress, the unhappiness, the lack of control—are really the same reactions we have when we live by our mind’s ideas of us. These are the trained, or programmed, beliefs that we are not good enough, not capable, not worthy, or not valuable enough.
In this version of our lives, we are unhappy and reactive because we aren’t meant to be sequestered, limited, or held as a prisoner of our beliefs and thoughts any more than we are in traffic. We can look at rush hour and our reactions to it as a metaphor for how we experience life when we believe what our minds tell us. Those reactions become the impetus for us to start questioning why we are doing what we are doing and why do we believe what we believe?
Uncovering the real problem, that we have been lied to about ourselves, we can ask if we want to continue or make changes. We can determine if we want to correct our poor, inaccurate training. Do we want to come back to into alignment with what is normal and natural to us? The questioning allows the authentic self to arise. This is the one we have always been. We have just trained away from this beautiful, powerful, healthy being.
So, what is normal and natural to us? Connection, peace, knowing we are good enough—knowing there is another way to live and sitting in rush hour traffic, or held back by our mind’s lies, isn’t it. We don’t have to live as unhappy and unhealthy beings.
80%. That’s the number of us that are estimated to have adrenal fatigue. What is adrenal fatigue? Well, besides being one of the most underdiagnosed preventable illnesses and one that is not recognized by conventional medicine, adrenal fatigue means the adrenal glands, the hypothalamus, and the pituitary gland don’t work the way they are supposed to any more. When your adrenals don’t work correctly, neither do most of your other organs. What is the most common cause of adrenal fatigue? Chronic stress. And a major cause of our chronic stress is reacting to life when we just don’t need to. Let’s look at adrenal fatigue to gain a deeper understanding of this highly preventable illness, known as a syndrome.
Your adrenal glands are small triangle-shaped organs that sit on top of your kidneys. They are part of your endocrine system, secreting more than 50 essential-for-life hormones. Their main function? Regulating your stress. Ironically, it’s too much stress that causes them to break down and no longer function properly. So, every time your blood boils, your heart rate rises from anger, your blood pressure and heart rate rise, your digestion slows, and the adrenal glands secret adrenaline in preparation for fight or flight. But most of the time, there is not battle.
Now, go back to rush hour traffic. Just in this time to and from work, how often are you reacting to, or stressing about, the people and the traffic? Imagine how much reacting and overreacting we are putting ourselves through on a daily basis as we carry on at work due to deadlines and expectations, with friends through gossip and back-stabbing, with family members and even daily news stories. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.
How do you know if you have adrenal fatigue? With adrenal fatigue, you may look and act fairly normal with no obvious symptoms of physical illness. But, the telltale signs of adrenal fatigue are that you feel tired, you feel generally unwell and listless. You may also have some of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue and weakness, especially in the morning and afternoon
- A suppressed immune system
- Increased allergies
- Cravings for foods high in salt, sugar or fat
- Hormonal imbalance
- Autoimmune disorders
- Low sex drive
- Decreased ability to handle stress
- Trouble waking up in the morning, despite a full night’s sleep
- Poor memory
Many people with adrenal fatigue have to use stimulants, such as coffee, to get moving in the morning and then to keep themselves going throughout the day. I once knew a co-worker who drank 12 cans of Coke during an 8-hour work day.
There are ways to test for adrenal fatigue; a blood test or a saliva test. For the blood test, make certain to use a health care provider well-versed in this syndrome; either a functional medicine doctor or a holistic medicine specialist. The saliva test can be purchased inexpensively online and can be done at home. One of the health care providers noted above can assist you with diagnosis and healing.
The other thing you can do to get your all-important adrenal glands functioning again? Stop reacting to daily life. This takes practice since reacting is just a habit, not a requirement and not the only way to live. You can do it. You can heal your body, get your energy back and enjoy life loads more than you do now. You deserve it.
Less Reaction Equals a Better, Healthier Life
Adrenal fatigue syndrome can be cured. It may take up to 24 months to fully recover from all of the years of unnecessary stressors, but anyone can do it. The key is to focus on the following areas:
- The Practice of Peace — This is equivalent to no longer reacting to life. This will take practice as the habit of reacting has been a part of our lives for a long time. Reacting to life is just a habit, though. Habits can be broken. If we truly want to feel better, healthier, and happier, it is time for us to focus on something other than what’s wrong, how stupid people are, taking on the pressure of time constraints and more. Getting to and from work, just like moving through our day, can be filled with peace or stress. We are the ones who make the decision on how our day will go.
Here’s an example: Someone just cut in front of you and put on their brakes. You would normally be angry about that for any number of reasons. But this time, just let it happen. Don’t react to it. Don’t give it your energy. Don’t think the other person is a massive jerk for doing that. Just let it be as it is. This isn’t allowing yourself to get trampled on. This isn’t being weak. This is being peaceful. Choosing peace in these moments will bring healing to your adrenal glands, your body and your daily life.
- Go to bed early — The issue with adrenal fatiguers is that they get a spark of energy around 6pm and then get tired around 9-10pm, which they resist and stay up. Another burst of energy comes around 11pm and this can keep them up until 2am or longer. This was me. I didn’t realize these were tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue. I started going to bed around 10pm when I yawned and felt tired. I have felt better ever since. I have more energy and my immune system is getting stronger every day.
So, make it a habit to turn off all electronics one hour before bed. You could do yoga at home, relax with a nice cup of chamomile tea and a good book (Mood, Food and Gratitude: Healing from the Way We Think perhaps, by yours truly), meditate, stretch or give your dog a massage. Anything peaceful will do. Then, head to bed by 10p.m. Don’t look at your phone or tablet once you get in bed. You can read or turn off the light and deep breath, focusing on your breath in and out of your lungs. You will drift off. If you don’t fall asleep right away on the first night, don’t be discouraged. Keep going with it night after night. It will change.
- Exercise daily — You knew this would be on the list. Exercise is key to sleeping well each night. You don’t have to hit the weights at the gym, but do something. Walk for 30 minutes – at a good clip. Dance. Do yoga or pilates. Run a mile or two. Just do something.
Our bodies weren’t made for sedentary living. Sitting is stressful to us physically and emotionally. When we don’t move much day after day, our hips get stiff, our connective tissues get weak, and we are more prone to injuries. Emotionally, we are meant to move as all of life is in motion. Sitting the majority of the day is unnatural for us. It is a metaphor for how stuck we feel in life. Get up and move. Motion heals lots of physical and emotional issues we have.
- Eat Healthy Food — This one comes as no surprise either. Food is energy and we can see the energy or lack of energy in us when we take a closer look at the foods we eat. Many of us consume foods that lack nutrition and are sugary, full of saturated fat, or high in chemicals. We would call these foods dead food, meaning it has no life and no life-giving properties.
If this is the food you are eating, take note. Does it reflect your current emotional state? Does it reflect your current physical state? If so, not to worry, or blame yourself. This is more of the same energy that creates unnecessary stress. Just start making small changes each day or each week. Replace dead food with live food for at least one meal or for one snack each day. Live food is full of nutrition. Vegetables and fruits are good examples of live foods. Buy organic vegetables and fruit, even if your money is tight, buy what you can. Also, eat meat that comes from local, free range farms instead of factory farmed meat, which is most of the meat at your grocers. It’s all energy.
By eating healthy foods, you make changes. Making changes is a form of movement. Eating alive foods will help you feel alive and help your body heal. You will feel better in general. Do what you can each day. Don’t beat yourself up if you go back to dead food every so often. We are reducing our stress in all areas. Self-blame is one of them.
We can heal everything by changing the way we interact with the people and events in our day. We don’t have to react to anything. That is the truth. Follow this and know you can improve your health and your happiness.
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