“Where’s the scientific evidence that 98% of our thoughts feelings and emotions don’t belong to us?” asked someone who posted on an Access Consciousness® Facebook page. Her husband was demanding proof of this common assertion by Access Founder and best-selling author Gary Douglas and many of the facilitators he has trained.
As so often happens, asking a question creates awareness and that awareness can come from unexpected sources. In this case it’s the British tabloid the Daily Mail, which headlined an article, “From back ache to morning sickness, why couples feel each other’s pain” just a few days after that question appeared on Facebook.
What are commonly called “sympathy symptoms” occurred in one out of four expectant fathers. Researches call this phenomenon “couvade.” Access Consciousness® would call it “taking on someone else’s pain as if it were yours.” Expectant fathers demonstrating couvade experienced food cravings, nausea, and phantom pains of pregnancy.
Researchers attribute this to a rise in prolactin, a hormone that increases during pregnancy. (It is a hormone present in both men and woman all the time, but it rises in women during pregnancy.) Not only does it rise for expectant mothers, but it rises for expectant fathers as well. The higher the prolactin men had, the more weight they gained with their partner’s pregnancy, the more aversions to food they had, and the more persistent nausea they experienced. This was reported in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
The phenomenon of taking another’s feelings into your body is not limited to pregnancy, however. The Daily Mail article also discussed its occurrence when one member of a couple experiences low back pain.
Watching a loved one or friend suffer activates the same part of the brain as is involved in the first hand experience of pain, studies found. One study by Heidelberg University in Germany found that just hearing a partner moan in pain, without even being able to see them, was enough to turn on those same brain responses.
The Daily Mail article, written by Pat Hagan, even dares to ask, “Given that about 80 per cent of us suffer from back pain at some point in our lives, for a few could it be just down to living with someone who is constantly complaining about their back?”
The chances of experiencing low back pain were significantly increased by living with someone with regular complaints about low back pain, German researchers found.
The classic Access Consciousness® tool to deal with this, of course, is to ask that question, “Who does this belong to?” when experiencing pain, feelings or emotions. Other useful questions are “Where does this come from?” and “Is it yours?” If asking these questions creates a sense of lightness in your universe—guess what. . .you’re like the partner that’s having what the scientists are calling “sympathy pains.” The problem is truly not yours!
Now there’s a scientific reason as well that it’s a good idea to ask those questions. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh measured the blood pressure and heart rate of partners of people with osteoarthritis who were asked to carry heavy logs. Watching their partners in pain increased their heart rate and blood pressure—both thought to be risk factors for heart disease.
Last year, the Journal of Pain found that those who are single or in bad relationships also suffer more pain and less mobility from rheumatoid arthritis than those in supportive relationships. If you wish to feel good, apparently it’s wise to carefully choose the person with whom you share your life.
Now science has spoken. What if it were just an interesting point of view? What do you know? What might you learn by using the questions suggested above, now that you know they have a scientific basis?