Written by Jenny Peterson
This content is the exact script from episode #26 of the Simplify Your Healing Podcast
I get it, Your symptoms are with you day after day, sometimes 24/7, which makes it seem impossible not to focus on them.
Our logic brain thinks that if we focus on them, question the shit out of them and monitor everything about them, that somehow we will find the answers.
Is focusing on your symptoms helping or hindering your healing?
In today’s episode I’m going to talk about why focusing on your symptoms may not be playing in your favor when it comes to your healing and the steps you can take to do something about it.
They are always there to remind you aren’t they?
And when you have them, your mind seems to not be able to focus on anything else.
I remember this very clearly when I had my symptoms. In particular cystitis. I had burning bladder pain 24/7 for 2 years straight. It was miserable and no matter what I was doing, it seemed like all I could do was focus on the pain and discomfort.
But that all changed when I shifted my focus. Because after I saw that focusing on my symptoms just left me feeling hopeless and would ruin my entire day, I realized that I was feeding the problem.
Then once I learned GHK, I understood why being in this thinking loop was also connected to why I wasn’t healing.
So let’s start with why we focus on symptoms to begin with.
Our tendency to pay more attention to bad things and overlook good things is likely a result of evolution. Earlier in human history, paying attention to bad, dangerous, and negative threats in the world was literally a matter of life and death. Those who were more attuned to danger and who paid more attention to the bad things around them were more likely to survive.
While we may no longer need to be on constant high alert as our early ancestors needed to be in order to survive, the negativity bias still has a starring role in how our brains operate.
- We are programmed to look at symptoms as being “bad.” It starts from when we are little. We get “sick” and get taken to the doctor. When we have an upset tummy we hear from adults around us “o no, what can be wrong?”
We go to the doctor and if they find out something is outside of their “normal” range, we are immediately given more tests and a label.
So as you can see, we have been programmed to believe that when we have a symptom, there is something wrong. That is the meaning we have given symptoms. That meaning comes with a lot of fear and worry.
Fear and worry cause a stress response in the nervous system and don’t allow your body to relax and heal.
But what would happen if you shift the meaning of your symptoms? What if your symptoms are really a sign that your body IS doing exactly what it’s designed to do? When you shift the meaning of symptoms, it comes with a different set of feelings. Instead of worry and fear, there is trust and calmness.
So the reasons why we focus on symptoms are due to our brains and the meaning we have given symptoms.
Next let’s talk about “the side effects’ ‘ of when we focus on symptoms.
Can you think of a day that when you focused on your symptoms that it led you to feeling energized, hopeful, or productive?
Most likely not.
You know as well as I know that if you start your day focusing on your symptoms it all goes downhill from there. You get emotional, you don’t do anything and google and you sit cuddled up on the couch all day.
Focusing on your symptoms is not serving you. And it’s definitely not assisting you in your healing.
Here’s the deal, unless you shift your mind to other things than your symptoms, these thoughts and focus will consume you and you will not heal.
I’m not just saying that because it sounds good. There is science to prove that. GHK proves that when you are in a conflict state, worry and fear, you activate your symptomathic nervous system. You move into what is called the conflict phase. You can not heal in this phase because your body thinks a tiger is chasing you.
As long as that tiger is chasing you, your body is not interested in healing. Its focus is survival.
Now I am not suggesting that you throw all common sense out the window and ignore symptoms that are of emergency. That is a different story. What I am talking about here are chronic symptoms that you have been chasing for a period of time and not found answers to. Those are the ones that we need to stop focusing on.
When you experience new symptoms that are not life threatening, it’s important that you do the same. Freaking out about new symptoms is not effective. It’s putting you right back into the conflict phase.
When we understand that symptoms are a sign of healing, we can tell ourselves, huh, I must have resolved something, thank you body, when symptoms show up. And then if we just keep our head in the right lane and give our body time, those symptoms will go away.
I discuss more about why we feel worse before we feel better and the healing phase in episode number #4.
If you want to move the needle with your healing, you must take control of where you choose to put your focus. I know it may seem like your brain just automatically goes to focusing on your symptoms. That is exactly what it’s doing. But it’s doing that because you have programmed it to work that way.
The brain is programmed with repetition. So when you first got your symptoms you didn’t start out thinking about your symptoms 24/7. It started with maybe a few times a day or a week. Then it got more and more because you weren’t finding answers. Now it’s a programmed behavior in your brain.
But the good news is that just as your brain is programmable, it also can be unprogrammed. The only person that can do that is you.
So here are the steps to shift this old pattern of focusing on your symptoms.
- Give a new meaning to your symptoms. Learn why your body is doing what it’s doing so you can trust it rather than fear it. The power lies within the meaning. I suggest you listen to episode #16 for an in depth discussion around this.
- Remind yourself that every time you choose to focus on your symptom you are consciously making a choice to hinder your healing. As long as you have fear and worry behind your focus, it puts your nervous system on high alert. Is it worth it?
- Come up with different things you can say when your brain tries to lead you to focusing on symptoms. Sing a song, tell yourself, these are the signs of my body healing, I’m ok. , smile, laugh, dance, say a mantra or an affirmation. Do something to interrupt that brain pattern. After doing this regularly, that pattern will get weaker and weaker. You will find yourself focusing less and less on your symptoms.
- Keep yourself busy rather than do nothing. When you don’t have anything to do, your brain is going to pull you down the rabbit hole. I don’t mean that you need to give yourself so much to do that you don’t relax, just small things like reading a book, watching stand up comedy, listening to music, doing crafts, crossword puzzles, playing with your kids. Kids and pets are one of the best things to help you take your focus off of your symptoms and give you joy at the same time.
- Learn the biological connection to your symptoms and resolve the conflicts connected to them. Once you do this in conjunction with training your brain to have different thinking patterns, your body will finally be able to complete the healing phase, which means your symptoms will go away for good. I teach exactly how to do this in the MBR program.
Once I understood why I had my symptoms, I chose to no longer focus on them. I went on living rather than living my life around them. Yes I still had them but they weren’t always on my mind. I resolved the conflicts connected to them and then just moved forward knowing that they would resolve in their own time. Which they did.
Focusing on your symptoms is hindering your healing. It’s of no benefit and is taking up time in which you could be focusing on the work that does move you forward.
We cause our own stress when it comes to us trying to “fix” our symptoms. We want to control it. The thing that we need to learn to control is our mind and the body will do the rest.
Yes I know it sounds easy but isn’t so easy to do when your brain has been programmed to operate this way.
Like I said before, you have subconsciously programmed it to be that way so you can consciously make a choice to reprogram it, the power is in your hands!
Jenny Peterson is a Chronic Illness Coach who helps people heal and trust their body so they can break free from chronic mental, physical, and emotional conditions. She is a GHK practitioner, speaker, teacher, and founder of the MBR program.
After resolving Lyme, digestive problems, panic attacks, skin issues and much more, using the same neuroplasticity techniques that she teaches, she knew that she had to help others get back their life and health too. Her mission is to bring a solution to a world where so many are suffering emotionally and physically with chronic illness, by shining a light on the body’s ability to heal when unconscious stress is released. Schedule a free Health Break Through call with Jenny to determine the blocks that are getting in the way of your healing and a create a plan of how to move forward.