Words of Wellness

April 26, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

It Can Be Contagious

The first death linked to swine flu occurred just two weeks ago today in Oaxaca, Mexico.† Since then 86 people have died.† Another 1400 people in Mexico, along with† dozens other in the US and other countries, have been diagnosed with this deadly disease.†† Church services and soccer games were cancelled all across Mexico.† Six million masks have been handed out so far in that country alone to try to prevent the transmission of this highly contagious disease.† We all of course, hope and pray that the swine flu will soon be contained, and that those who are already infected will recover fully.

†††† The swine flu reminds us that diseases can spread quickly and easily if we are not careful.† Do you know that emotional dis-eases can spread just as quickly?† In some cases they can be just as dangerous and destructive as physical diseases.† We all know that alcoholism runs in families:† if a child grows up in an alcoholic family, they are much more likely to develop an addiction problem themselves.† If a child grows up in a family witnessing domestic violence, they are much more likely to use violence when facing conflict in their own lives. †

††† Even less obvious emotional dis-eases can be highly contagious and destructive.† Imagine, for example, a mother or father who comes home from work every day angry and agitated because they don't like their job.† If they are not careful, that anger and agitation will spill out on to everyone else in the home, thus infecting them with negative thoughts and feelings.† In no time, the whole household is unhappy and people either begin to be critical of one another, or to isolate from one another.† It's as if the person had come home from work with the stomach flu and then proceeded to "throw up" on everyone around them.† If this pattern happens on a regular basis, the pain and suffering that result can really damage the fabric of the entire family's relationship.

†††† What can we do to prevent this kind of negative energy from infecting ourselves or others?† If a family member or friend is being chronically negative, you need to compassionately--but firmly--reflect that back to them.† Ask them to address the causes of their negativity and ask them to stop "throwing up" on you.† Stay connected with them as they try to address their dis-ease and share with them how much you appreciate their taking your concerns seriously.† Taking this approach does two things:† it protects you from passively becoming infected, and it shows your love and concern for the other person as you hold a mirror up to their behavior and assist them in making changes. †

†††† If you recognize the signs of swine flu in yourself, or others, you would no doubt take action immediately.† I hope you will do the same if you recognize the signs of emotional dis-ease in yourself, or in a friend or loved one.† Both are preventable, and both are fairly easily treated if they are addressed early enough.

† † Our negativity, sarcasm, cynicism and bad moods are indeed contagious--that's the bad news.† The good news is that our positive moods--our joy, peace, humor and happiness are also highly contagious.† We can as just easily infect people around us with our positive energy as we can with our negative energy.† The choice is ours.† In light of the terrible flu epidemic that is getting our attention these days, may we remember to choose wisely in all aspects of health and wellness.†

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