My company is falling apart. No, not literally. The people working here have been “falling apart,” suffering from an array of ailments that include migraines, incapacitating back pain, stomach bugs, chronic coughs, vertigo and weird rashes (likely an allergic reaction). To me, this is a sign that my team is being pushed to its limits and that the medicine they really need is a little time off—so we added an extra day to the Independence Day holiday weekend, and everyone got a good five-day respite. On the Monday that followed, there were many refreshed faces running around the office, even though we are still facing the same company challenges, job pressures, personal concerns and, in case you haven’t noticed, there is a lot of stress and fear in our country right now.

Our bodies often know us better than we know ourselves. If we listen, they guide us to find true healing for many chronic issues.

When I was young, my father always said that colds were ploys for sympathy. I thought he was being critical of, and unkind to, people who had simply caught colds. After all, sometimes people simply get sick.

But the more I read about acupuncture meridians, Eastern chakras, metaphysics and mind-body-spirit connections…and the more I watched the world around me…the more I realized that Dad may have not have used the softest language, but he had made an important observation—when people get colds, they really do need a little extra loving and attention. They often catch them when their defenses are down due to stress, overwork, lack of sleep or other things that suppress their immune systems. I know some people who spend a whole lot of energy taking care of others, and the only respite they get is when they themselves catch a cold—not a serious illness but just enough sickness to give themselves permission to take a break from their caretaking. And when those in my family get colds, they definitely are looking for a few extra hugs and need to push “pause” on the world for a brief time.

The late John E. Sarno, MD, former professor of rehabilitation medicine at New York University School of Medicine, turned rehab and back-pain treatment upside down when he wrote Healing Back Pain and identified that much of back pain is not physical, no matter what the X-rays and MRIs reveal. Rather it was something he called Tension Myoneural Syndrome—the development of physical pain as a distraction for intense emotional pain, anger and resentment that people suppress rather than release in one way or another.

Think about people you have known who suffer back issues. How many of them also had some deep anger or other emotion that they were stuffing rather than releasing? I have known a number of people who fit this description. And I remember a time when I had some back spasms totally out of the blue. Once I realized that I had some intense frustrations and restrictions going on in my life, the pains eased. Fascinating.

Our bodies use physical pain to simultaneously distract us from the emotional pain that we are feeling and as a guide to direct us toward healing…that is, if you understand the language of the body.

One of my favorite healers was the late Louise Hay. She wrote the breakthrough book You Can Heal Your Life, in which she makes a very powerful case for the connection between our emotional health and our physical health. Her core philosophy: What we give out, we get back. What we think about ourselves becomes the truth for us.

Louise said, “I believe that everyone, myself included, is responsible for everything in our lives—the best and the worst. Every thought we think is creating our future. Each one of us creates our experiences by our thoughts and our feelings. The thoughts we think and the words we speak create our experiences.”

In other words, our minds control our experiences and our bodies. Live in a world of love and gratitude for yourself and for others, and bathe yourself in love. Live in a world of negative self-talk and negative judgment about the world, and you bathe yourself in negativity that manifests into physical symptoms and disease. Louise was famously known for healing her own “incurable” cervical cancer by releasing the emotional demons that had controlled her body as a result of physical and sexual abuse she suffered when she was young.

Hay wrote many books, including Heal Your Body A-Z based on her experiences treating thousands of patients. It is a listing of different ailments and their emotional connections.

Readers of my blog know that I have suffered from very tight hips over the past few years. According to Hay’s book, that translates into “fear of going forward on major decisions.” Yes—surviving in the information industry of recent years has required some very difficult decisions and steps into the unknown. It’s no surprise that my hips would be tight, as they hold the key to my forward motion in the world.

Fascinating how young children, dealing with the pressures of school, miraculously come down with tummy aches (dread…fear of the new…inability to assimilate the new) and headaches (invalidating the self…self-criticism…fear) when they don’t want to go to school.

I know there are those of you who will read this and think, Absolutely not…Sarah has lost her mind. Maybe. But what if I haven’t? When I read the emotional connections for many common ailments, I can’t tell you how often, in my humble observations, the “pattern fits the people.” Pimples (small outbursts of anger)…thyroid problems (“I never get to do what I want to do. When is it going to be my turn?”)…gastritis or prolonged stomach pain (prolonged uncertainty…a feeling of doom)…rash (irritation over delays)…asthma (feeling stifled…suppressed crying).

Here’s my suggestion: Open your mind. Open your heart. And observe yourself and those around you. Yes, sometimes a sickness is just a sickness, especially in young children. But as we get older, sometimes a sickness is more than just germs. There’s a reason that our bodies let down their guard in certain energy zones. If you are sick or get sick, pay attention to your emotional health. Reflect with no fear of judgment. Write in a journal to try to uncover what else you are feeling deep inside. Let it all out, and figure out a way to either address the problems or accept that the world is not fitting into your wishes and let those frustrations go. Fill the space with positive and constructive thoughts that can propel you forward. If you can get past the craziness of the concept, you just may be able to feel good.