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Words Can Kill You

Words Can Kill You

Thanksgiving came quickly this year. It is my favorite holiday of the year. It is not associated with a long tiresome season like Christmas is. Christmas has morphed into a commercial holiday season that seems to begin in July and extend past the Christmas day itself. We have a number of national holidays dedicated to the acts of men and women or constructions that all of us should hold in our highest cognitive platforms: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Presidents Day, Independence Day, Good Friday, Martin Luther King Day, Veterans Day, New Year's Day and a host of minor holidays like St. Valentine's Day or Earth day.

It seems as if our country is head over heels in love with holidays; almost every race, sexual orientation, political persuasion, disease, environmental cause, religion and cooking style has emerged for consideration as the next potential national holiday by those who adhere to a zealous undertaking of spreading the word or to making the public aware of their personal mission since it appears that their personal crusade is greater than all other crusades that have come before them.

Some of the calendars I have purchased in the past few years include holidays that other countries and cultures adhere to, international holidays are curious to say the least. Sometimes we’re overloaded with information that is unnecessary, unwanted and unneeded especially when it comes to holidays, unless one is playing on the game show, Jeopardy.

So what does this have to do with health in any way? After all, I write mostly about health related topics that seem to escape our industrial healthcare machine. Holidays seem to induce stress of some kind or another. I have heard patients talk about the stress that is associated with minor family gatherings like birthdays, anniversaries and graduations. Holidays seem to really bring on the stress. It seems like we promote this love - hate relationship that comes along with holiday gatherings, those times when our immediate and extended family and friends get together to criticize the city, county, state and federal government, spew disturbing comments about what is believed to be aberrant sexual orientation or religion, gossip about family members who just don't seem to get it and at the end of the holiday gathering, everyone acts as if every critical comment that was said or disturbing behavior displayed was okay because it was family; and family trumps everything.

Meanwhile the pre and post holiday gathering stress manifests in migraine headaches, abdominal pains, unexplained vomiting and diarrhea, sleep disturbances, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks, increased cigarette smoking, upper respiratory infections, and depression. Some patients are down for days after a holiday, while denying that the holiday was the trigger for the exacerbation of their illness.

So what are the unconscious feelings that make people so crazy at holidays or special events? Several.

Jealousy seems to be rampant in our lives. People coveting what other people have or perceive they have. Anyone can be jealous over anything. Fathers and mothers can be jealous of their children, husbands and wives can be jealous of their friends, adolescents can be jealous of other adolescents who are perceived to have a better family or are much more popular amongst their peer group. If you think about it, you can probably identify someone you might be jealous of and others who might be jealous of you.

Greed is another disturbing character flaw that has infected our American population as a whole. We seem to have become hoarders of money, food, automobiles and friends. It is not so much that we accumulate money, people and stuff, we have a deep emotional attachment to all of it. When anyone is under the spell of greed, charity and kindness leaves their sense of self.

Guilt is probably one of the most devastating emotions in anyone's life. We have all felt guilt in one form or another. Guilt is different than shame. Guilt is the feeling of letting an authority figure down. Guilt affects someone's soul. Shame is a feeling associated with letting your friends and peers down. Someone who believes they let their mother or father down will experience guilt; it is almost as devastating as letting God down. It does not matter how old one's parents are, they are always seen as parents; the same rule applies to children and how they are perceived by their parents.

When a holiday gathering brings together family members and friends who have jealousy in their hearts, greed in their minds and guilt in their soul, there is bound to be humiliation everywhere. It is the humiliation that people dread as they prepare for a holiday gathering; it is the hardest feeling to wash off in a hot shower at home after the gathering has dispersed. Spoken comments to family members that are influenced by jealousy, greed or guilt are forever locked in the minds and hearts of those who have been a victim of those words. It makes the next holiday family gathering even more difficult to attend, the anxiety much more intense, the stress much more severe and the confidence to endure another holiday much more disturbed.

Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you. That's not true if a family member or friend who is jealous, greedy or guilty violates your personal space by spewing harsh words and deprecating personal comments with impunity.

Words can kill you.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 4:11 PM
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