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Is Low Self-Esteem Burning Out Your Adrenals?

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Is Low Self-Esteem Burning Out Your Adrenals?

Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Christiane Northrup More by this author
Sep 16, 2013 at 05:00 PM 0 comments

One of the most common complaints I hear from women is that they have too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. If a woman’s excessive demands are temporary, her adrenal glands will provide a burst of cortisol and epinephrine, which give her the energy she needs to cope with her immediate crisis. But if her demands are excessive and ongoing, these same hormones wreak havoc on her body. I’m sure you know that this can lead to adrenal exhaustion. However, did you know that feelings of low self-esteem and lack of personal power can also contribute to adrenal exhaustion?

When you look at energy anatomy, the adrenal glands are part of the third chakra. And if you are experiencing adrenal exhaustion (or health problems in the abdomen, upper intestines, liver, gall bladder, lower esophagus, stomach, kidney, pancreas, adrenals, spleen, or middle spine), chances are that the emotional and psychological issues associated with the third chakra are affecting your adrenal health. As I wrote in “Your Chakras: A Roadmap to Vibrant Health,” these include self-esteem, self-confidence, self-respect, and a sense of responsibility.

Before I explain further, let me remind you of the role the adrenal glands play. The adrenals sit on top of the kidneys and are the main source of cortisol and epinephrine—what are known as the stress hormones. Stress hormones are absolutely essential for living a vibrant and healthy life. If you suddenly have to run to get out of the way of an ongoing car, your adrenal glands send messages to your heart, blood vessels, and muscles to get you out of there fast. Think adrenaline—it can be pretty handy.

Unfortunately, with today’s busy lifestyle, this mechanism doesn’t just “flip on” occasionally. Relentless demands for additional bursts of energy required to keep pace with your hectic life cause the adrenals to produce slow but relentless amounts of stress hormones and resultant inflammatory chemicals. It also creates a constant state of fight or flight in your body.

Just as harmful as the physical demands, are the thoughts you have about your worth. These cause the release of cortisol and epinephrine to help you fight or flee ongoing emotional issues or other stressors. Here are some specific examples of common stressors that put relentless demands on your adrenals:

-    Worry

-    Anger

-    Guilt

-    Anxiety

-    Fear

-    Depression

-    Lack of pleasurable experiences

-    Chronic pain

-    Chronic illness

-    Feelings of lack

-    Feelings of shame

Imagine if your self-talk included hours of messages loaded with shame and insults, like: I'm too fat. I'm too old. I’m too dumb. Can you see how your adrenals would respond continually to these feelings of lack? Although there’s no physical emergency, can you understand how these messages can cause your body to stay on “high alert,” eventually exhausting both you and your adrenals?

Thoughts that make you feel bad or bad about yourself cause a physiological reaction that drains the adrenals and can compromise other aspects of your health. Because a lack of personal power and a lack of self-worth can lead to adrenal dysfunction over time, I encourage you to look objectively at whether you have these feelings—and then have the courage to do something about it. 

Here are three easy things you can try today:

1. Allow yourself to accept nurturing—it can be the first step towards loving yourself more. This means asking for and accepting help. And if help isn’t forthcoming, it means pampering yourself.

2. Nourish your body with good food and enough rest. You may think your only way to recapture the time you need to accomplish everything is to go without enough sleep or take shortcuts when it comes to eating right. This will only leave you feeling depleted, exhausted, and more stressed emotionally.

3. Work with affirmations. Louise Hay’s work is the perfect place to start. Remember, affirmations don’t make things happen. Affirmations make things possible. Affirmations also help you to look at life more optimistically.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog or if it has given you additional insights, please share it! As always, I love reading your comments.

Note: If you’re looking for more information on adrenal health, here are some great resources:

•    Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

•    The Wisdom of Menopause

•    Adrenal Exhaustion

•    Do You Have Adrenal Exhaustion?

•    Spiritual Support for Your Adrenals

•    Your Chakras: A Roadmap to Vibrant Health

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