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5 Truths Chronic Illness Teaches Us

By Jenny Peterson

Throughout our lifetime, we have many teachers that serve to guide us. Our parents, mentors, school teachers, etc. But your symptoms or illness are probably not on that list of teachers, unless you have healed from chronic conditions like myself. 

If you are struggling with any chronic condition or illness, have you considered asking yourself, what is this trying to teach me? It's amazing how a simple shift like this will help you see your symptoms in a different light. 

Today, I’m revealing 5 truths that your chronic illness is here to teach you. I suggest that you don’t wait until you heal from your chronic symptoms to embrace these truths because the sooner you learn them, the easier it will be to resolve your symptoms. 

When I was experiencing chronic symptoms for several years, I thought that they were the most devastating thing in my life. All I could think about was how my life would never be the same and I dreamed of feeling like I did before they all started. 

Fast forward to today and I’m extremely thankful for going through that experience and honestly know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I didn’t. 

Frankly I believe that your symptoms are probably the most valuable teacher you can have.  The truths that I’m revealing today could either be viewed as valuable or harsh truths. However you see it. Either way they are worth knowing. 


This may sound like it is hard to believe but now that I am helping people heal themselves, I see it very clearly at times. Sometimes the benefits of having chronic illness outweigh getting well. This is usually never seen consciously by someone, it's running subconsciously.  

For example, if a person's fear of failure is so strong, they subconsciously will do anything to avoid it. Trying new things is a risk of survival according to the subconscious and it will do anything to avoid that risk. These are the people that you will typically see not trying new things or say that they know they need to do something different but never do. The possibility of failure is there and that is subconsciously trying to be avoided for survival. 

Or another one that I often see is the fear of taking responsibility. For some, taking responsibility for their life is very scary and it feels safer to stay where they are at. This is the power of the subconscious mind. It would rather avoid discomfort. If being sick and miserable is safer and more comfortable, it will choose that over getting well. 

These are what I call secondary gains and we make sure to cover them in all the work we do with our clients because they are often the hidden blocks getting in the way of someone’s healing. While secondary gains can be very strong, they can be overcome. What I typically see is that a person has to get to rock bottom, things need to get really bad to face these secondary gains and let them go. This is why I say, when you get pissed off, you are ready to do this work. 

Then there is the other side of it when we heal from chronic symptoms, seeing others around us suffering and we wish that they would get help. Often times what we see, they don’t see. So we try to help them or give them suggestions. This is where I have learned that you must let people discover their own healing journey. If they come to you asking you what you did to get well, then that is your opportunity to plant a seed. Let people come to you rather than trying to force something they are not ready for. 

When we do this work, we see that our parents may have passed on some patterns that haven’t served you or themselves. Here again, unless your parents can see this unhelpful way of responding to life, or it brings enough pain to make them want to change, you can’t force change onto them. This is essentially part of this work. Learning what is yours and what isn’t and having no attachment to the outcome. 


Your body is literally your personal growth gauge. It tells you exactly where you need to make changes in your life. And it is extremely accurate. I have yet to have a student say to me 'that isn’t me' when their subconscious blocks are revealed to them. They are literally spot on every time. 

The problem is that we are not taught how to listen to our bodies.

We are taught to fear it, take something to stop it from doing its job, and that we need to control it. Everything is so surface level around us. We as human beings are much deeper than that. We operate from our subconscious patterns yet we are trying to fix everything from a conscious level. 

Your symptoms are all signs of something much deeper. When you learn the language that it speaks, you become a team rather than trying to fight it. 

When I did my own work, my body revealed to me things that I had been holding onto for years. I’m not talking about emotions being trapped in my body, and releasing those because that isn’t the work I’m referring to. I’m talking about ways of thinking and perceptions that I formed from life experiences. The way I operated was based on all those. My body told me that the perceptions that I formed from those times are no longer serving me. Once I shifted them, my symptoms went away. 

Your body never lies and is on your side. 


Fear is the glue that keeps you stuck. When you focus on your fears, they come true. It's a filter that clouds you from seeing any goodness. 

Fear is the monster in your head that continues to get bigger and bigger, scarier and scarier. He then invites his friends and before you know it, the fear gang takes over your entire life. 

This is why I call it the glue and why, if you don’t address your fear, aka anxiety, your symptoms will not go away. 

Chronic illness taught me that fear is incredibly powerful. The more I feared, the more my symptoms increased. My world got smaller and smaller. I started out being fearful of going to bed and having panic attacks, which led to a fear of taking a shower, which led to a fear of being alone, and it just kept going.

Whether it's a fear of driving, being alone, speaking up, failing, not being good enough, etc. these fears (conscious and subconscious)  keep our nervous system heightened. They activate our sympathetic nervous system. When one fear continues to lead to another, we learn to operate this way unconsciously  and our sympathetic nervous system is constantly being activated. This isn’t an environment that supports healing. It keeps you stuck. 

Once I started to build trust in myself, these fears slowly started taking a back seat. I wasn’t activating my sympathetic nervous system so much and my body could finally relax and heal.

Chronic illness taught me that in order to overcome anything in my life, I need to let go of fear and step into my power. 


Chronic illness will teach you that you are the creator of your life based on your thoughts and perceptions. 

Your body is literally telling you that through your symptoms. 

Now, the experiences that happened to you or the patterns that you have developed from those experiences are not your fault. But it is your responsibility to change them if you want your life to change. 

Chronic venting about your problems continues to bring problems and literally tells your subconscious that is what you want and will keep attracting it. Blaming others keeps you in a victim state and leaves you powerless. Sitting back and waiting for someone, (yes, even God)  to save you or change things is taking away the responsibility for your life. 

You create your life based on the patterns that you decide to give power to.

The subconscious patterns that are connected to your symptoms are not just affecting your health, they are bleeding into all areas of your life. Because you operate from these patterns daily, they are essentially how you do everything! This is why I love the phrase, how you do anything is how you do everything

So, let's say you have chronic anxiety. This indicates to me that you have a tendency to worry, overthink, be fearful, predict the future, and feel powerless to do anything about your situation. You are not going to only do this in one area of your life, it's going to bleed into all areas and it's going to be the go-to response to situations in your life. 

Your life and health will be a print out of this pattern along with your other patterns. So, to change your life and health, these patterns must be rewired. 

Remember that your perceptions are the root to your thoughts, behaviors and emotions. These are the bi-products of your perception. Your brain works like a magnet. It wants to continue attracting whatever is in your subconscious because that is how it continues to stay safe. If you don’t feel good enough, you will see every situation through that filter based on all the evidence you have accumulated to support that belief. 

When you change your perceptions, you change your life and your health. Your body will start responding differently.

If you respond to life with fear and powerlessness, that is not a message that feels safe to your body, so it will react with anxiety symptoms and adapt in order to keep you alive because it feels like there is a threat.

If you respond to life being resilient, aware, and in your own power, that sends a completely different message to your body, one of safety. So it doesn’t have to adapt or respond as if there is a threat. Two different perceptions, which results in two different responses in the body. This biological response in your body is programmed for survival and is connected to all body systems. 

Chronic illness taught me that my life and health are created by me.

If I don’t like what is happening in those areas, then I need to change it by changing my perception. I do want to note that changing perception doesn’t mean to turn everything into a positive experience. Changing my perception might mean that I need to let go of control, that it's safe to set a boundary or that it's safe to be who I am. Perception is always rooted in beliefs so that is often an easy place to start to see where you need to change the perception. 

I promise you, the moment you start to shift your perception of your experiences, things will dramatically start changing in your life and health. I’ve had people tell me that just by listening to my podcast and learning about their symptoms from a new view and no longer fearing them, they have had symptoms go away or significantly decrease. This is all because of a shift in perception. 


I often get asked, so how long will my healing take or what happens if I’m not 100% better by the end of your program? I know that this is coming from a place of eagerness to feel better, heal, and move forward, I’ve been there myself. 

And I also want you to know that you're not in control of your healing as much as you think you are. Your body and subconscious has its own agenda and you have to surrender to them. Your patterns have been with you for your entire life. Jumping into and forcing to work on those patterns all at one time or without prepping your subconscious will only push away your healing. 

Have you ever noticed when you control your kids, especially as they get older and want more freedom, that they rebel and go against you? You force, they push back. It's very similar to what happens in your brain when you try to force healing. The more you force, the more you push healing away.  

You can’t speed up the process of healing if your subconscious isn’t ready. We are dealing with deep patterns that require slowing down and taking the healing process one step at a time. I wish we could heal instantly but I’m not so sure that would be a good thing in the long run. 

Diving into the deep work, into your deepest patterns and pain all at one time or trying to rush it usually isn’t going to achieve long term change. Healing takes time to explore, and develop an awareness of the many different parts or perspectives you have and how they work together as an attempt to help or protect you that you may not know now.

This is why it's important to work with someone that has experience in subconscious work. I’ve seen and also worked with way too many practitioners/healers that dive into the deep work way too soon - before the subconscious is ready. This is a recipe for disaster for both the practitioner and the client. 

You can share the details about your experiences with every new therapist (or person) you meet. But this doesn’t bring you closer to healing, because prior to healing, your subconscious patterns will shape the way you see it and the way you tell it. Until you have processed it, the story of your experience will come from a mindset shaped by the experience itself. 

When you work on your stories from a safe place, your nervous system won’t be reliving it. That is how this work needs to be done. 

If you find yourself doing limited diets, detoxing, meditation and whatever else you're adding to the mix, there is force behind all of this. If your healing feels like a full time job, you're forcing it. It really doesn’t have to be this hard. 

I stopped trying to control my healing with all the outside stuff  and just surrendered to everything unraveling as it should. I considered my only job to be to keep my head in the right lane and work on my patterns a little bit at a time. Yes I was working on my patterns daily but it was in small pieces. I just focused on being a little better than the day before and some days I fell back into old patterns and that was ok. It was part of the process and part of me surrendering to how change happens in the brain. 

Chronic illness taught me that force doesn’t make my symptoms go away, it only made me more frustrated that they were not gone and kept the vicious cycle going. This in itself is a cycle that keeps activating your sympathetic nervous system, preventing you from healing.

When you surrender to knowing that your body knows exactly what to do to heal, it puts your focus on creating the peace in your mind that is required for that to happen. 

Your body doesn’t need to be told how to heal. Seriously it knows what it's doing, you have to let go of trying to control it. We have been programmed to control it and surprise surprise that isn’t working! You can see it in situations where there is infection, cancer, or really any symptom. Drugs are given to stop the healing process and when the drug is done, the body goes right back to where it was before because the root issue hasn’t been resolved.

We have lost so much trust with our own bodies that it is killing us!

Trust in your body to heal a cut or a broken bone is about as far as the trust goes. Anything outside of that, we are told you better take control.  Force comes from fear and you already know what fear does based on what I discussed earlier. 

My advice is to surrender.

Gather all the evidence that you can to support what happens when you surrender. That time when you had a sunburn, a cut, a broken bone and all you did was protect it and allow your body to do the healing. That is the kind of surrender you need to apply to all your symptoms.

Now I need to say this… surrendering is not for emergency situations. Please use common sense. If you have had a chronic symptom for more than 3 months, this is most likely not life threatening and where surrendering to mind body healing would be helpful. 

So lets recap.

The 5 truths that chronic illness teaches us are:

  1. Not everyone wants to heal

  2. Your body never lies

  3. Fear is the glue

  4. You create your life

  5. Forcing doesn’t work

Maybe you’ve already learned some of these, maybe you haven’t. Despite chronic illness and symptoms feeling like they are ruining your life, I promise you that it is here to teach you, even well beyond this list.

I encourage you to be open to the lessons that it is here to give.

I know you may not see it all now, but I know once you are free of your symptoms, just like me, you will be grateful for the experience and all the amazing things you have learned that most likely wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for having your conditions.


We get it, you're desperate to have your illness be a thing of the past, not something that defines your days. But trying to heal WITHOUT a custom plan is costing you precious time, money and energy!

You are unique, your symptoms are connected to very specific patterns within your subconscious.

Without a plan unique to you, you will continue struggling and miss out on the life you deserve to be living! To help you get started on your long-lasting healing journey, we would love to provide you with a healing plan that is unique to you. Get your custom healing plan today!

You can also Download my free healing guide, “Why Can’t I Heal” where you will learn the 5 reasons that you haven't healed despite everything you've tried. These are the missing pieces to your healing and the key to resolving your symptoms for good.

Jenny Peterson is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Rewire (MBR). She teaches those that are overwhelmed with trying to heal chronic symptoms how to simplify their healing by focusing on just one place, the subconscious mind. Learn more about MBR here.


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