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We Are What We Experience

Long-standing negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, fear, envy, sadness, guilt can be the by-product of our past experiences. When these emotions continually circulate through our mind/body system, they create an unhealthy state of being. This constant negativity can shorten lifespan, damage relationships, and generally contribute to an unsatisfying quality of life. Fortunately, people do not have to suffer a lifetime after experiencing distressing events in their lives. A psychologist, Francine Shapiro, Ph.D found that the brain uses a system for processing mind information that’s very similar to the digestive process which absorbs nutrients from the food we eat.

During sleep, our brain absorbs and processes all useful information from the day. We then awaken to a new day benefiting from our past experiences helping us to adapt. In this adaptive system, negative distressing experiences are processed with all the associated emotions, beliefs, body reactions, and thoughts so that they are transformed to support healthy and adaptive functioning. Sometimes, as in the digestive system, substances are not processed well and symptoms develop. This is the same process as when negative experiences remain unresolved. They leave unprocessed negative emotions rocking around in our body/mind system that can disrupt any chance for well-being. These left-over emotions come to dominate how the person acts and reacts to the present. The person then feels stuck in a negative spiral of responding to the present, as if it the past.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy that goes beyond talking about upsetting past events by using a very specific set of procedures to help the brain digest the distressing event on a physiological level. When processing occurs through EMDR, new associations, insights, and emotions start to come forward spontaneously as the mind/body information system is enabled and healing begins. Just as a cut on someone’s hand heals automatically, if there are no splinters or infections, so does the mind/body system heal on its own? Trained EMDR therapists work with the information-processing system to access the troubling experiences that are creating problems. Upon accessing the neural networks involved, these troubling experiences are addressed by creating the conditions for the brain to process information with bilateral eye movements allowing healing to take place.

Dr. Shapiro, through information-processing, developed a therapy that views the brain as same as the body in how food, nutrients, and experiences are processed. If you find yourself locked in a spiral of negative emotion that is causing significant stress for you, find a trained EMDR therapist to address past experiences and move toward full health.

Lauren Salani, LCSW, BCB, Psychotherapist, Senior Fellow, BCIA, Biofeedback International Certification Alliance, Trained in EMDR, EMDR Institute, Stress Relief Services, Atlantic Executive Center, Building C, 107 Monmouth Road, Suite 104, West Long Branch, NJ 07764, Phone: 732.542.2638, Web:,


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