Feeling Grouchy? Try This Recipe for a Metaphysical Liver Cleanse.

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Emotional states have a strong effect on physical health and well-being, and your liver—the poison filter of the body—might be getting a little bogged down with all your grump. If you’ve got a perpetual case of the Mondays or you’re indulging in a little bit too much Facebook Schadenfreude, if might be time for a metaphysical liver cleanse.

I have the worst case of Facebook Schadenfreude. This is becoming a problem. I know I should, no, I must, stop watching this person’s personal issues play out online. It’s just bad all around for body and soul.

Schadenfreude is one of my favorite words in German because of how accurately it describes the situation. It literally means bad or shameful joy but translates more accurately into taking joy from other’s misfortune. It really is a dirty little pleasure.

Facebook stalkerAnd thanks to the myriad of ways I can connect to Facebook, this shameful joy is at my fingertips anytime, anywhere. Envy may be an ugly, green-eyed monster, but Schadenfreude is a blind writhing table of slime, emerging from some sort of pit of despair.

I know it. And I feel hideous about it.

I found myself savoring every outburst and rant, every cry for attention. It makes me so angry, but I just keep obsessing, lurking, and watching. I hate myself for it, which only seems to fuel my nasty habit. The funny thing is, it actually does have a physical effect on me. I feel anxious, agitated, and unwell. I feel a knot in my chest and my legs feel restless.

There’s scientific evidence to suggest that emotional states have an effect on physical health. And in Chinese medicine, the liver is closely tied to emotional well-being. Anger and frustration can cause liver dysfunction, or vice versa.

Then, there’s this quote that’s been rattling around in the back of my mind:

“Jealousy consumeth the body and anger doth burn the liver: avoid these two as you would a lion.”  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 107-108)

Gaze ye not Abdu'l-BahaYikes. I’ve really got to put the kibosh on this. And how.

While it’s possible that I’m the only person in the world who does this, something tells me that I’m not. If that were true, there probably wouldn’t be a perfectly accurate German word for the phenomenon. If you find yourself partaking of a little too much Schadenfreude—online or off, it may be time for a metaphysical liver cleanse.

One part common sense, one part cognitive behavior therapy, and one part spiritual counsel: here’s my recipe for a metaphysical liver cleanse.

1. Rein it in. Boundaries work to prevent problems, and setting boundaries means not putting yourself in a position where you’re constantly being confronted by this person’s behavior. Whether that means seriously cutting down on Facebook or limiting your personal interactions—set limits and eliminate the temptation.

2. Catch yourself.  When you notice you’re doing it, try to put on the brain brakes and shift gears. Turn that anger or hatred into a happy thought (or at the very least neutral thought). It may sound easier said than done, but it’s all about taking small steps and learning how to be mindful. Remember this is for your own well-being.

3. Let it go. Another “easier said than done.” You’re mad, you’re frustrated, I get it. Well, guess what, the only thing you can do is change yourself. You have no control over other people. Separate yourself from their behavior. Try to remember that they’re probably having a difficult time with something—that we’re all fighting our own battles and dealing with our own tests.

4. Rinse and repeat as needed. 

I know that this is going to be a long process. But little by little, day by day I’m working on being a better and less Schadenfreude-filled person. And you know what? My liver already feels a little better.

Lindsay McComb is a writer, editor and designer. She lives in Oakland, works in San Francisco and drinks a lot of coffee. Her work can be found at lindsaymccomb.com.

1 Comment

  1. Kathy Johnson

    10 March, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Hey, I really appreciated this article. I am personally going through one of the hardest periods in my life and am struggling to “stay up” and have wondered if my increased interest in social media is not helping. I have been fighting to re-program my thoughts and after reading this article am committing to setting some limits with potentially “bad brain food”. I have already been doing that with relationships but thanks for the nudge!