By Jenny Peterson
(For an audio version of this blog, listen to episode #6 of my podcast)
The way that you think is a big contributor to your healing. If there was something that I wish labs and scans could do, is identify thinking patterns! Imagine if you went in for a doctor's appointment and they said according to your scans, you have a belief that you will never heal! And over here we can see that you are always thinking negatively about the future. Imagine if we had that capability……we wouldn’t wait until all other options didn’t work before we would focus on the true root of our symptoms.
After working with so many of those that have chronic illness, I have been able to identify the thinking patterns that get in the way of healing without any fancy scans. They are common thinking patterns that if you don’t shift them, can keep you from healing. And often they are not so obvious because they are so automatic to you. But I can guarantee that if you are honest with yourself, as you hear each of these, you will admit that you can relate to 1 or more of them.
Once you’re aware of them, then you can take action to do something about it. I’m not here to keep you on the sidelines watching others heal. I’m here to help keep healing simple and ultimately take action in your own healing.
Lets get right into the list!
1. Expectations of when you need or want to be healed by
One of the questions that I ask on the application for Mind Body Rewire is “ What would be the length of time that you are willing to invest in your healing?”. I have an option of 3 months, 6months, or whatever it takes listed. I ask this for a reason. Because if someone has a time length on how much they are willing to invest in their healing, then I’m concerned that person is forcing their healing and that never turns out well.
Your body has its own agenda for how long it needs to take to heal, not you. Your only job is to focus on your mind, let go of the stress and let your body do the rest.
Lets use the example of a guy so desperate to find a partner. Everywhere he goes, every woman he talks to, he tries to force something that isn’t there. He is trying so hard to find someone that he’s missing making a connection with anyone and turns off every woman he talks to, ultimately never attracting what he wants. That’s forcing it.
The same is true when you force your healing by setting a time limit or expectations to when you need to be healed. While you maybe doing the work, your so focused on hitting that outcome, that your missing the connection to the inner work, the transformation that facilitates the healing.
Its not just the end date that is the problem, its the whole expectation. So if you say I want/need to be healed in 6 months, its not just at 6 months that you start to get frustrated that you’re not better. At 3 months, half way through, your saying I’m half way to where I want to be and nothing has changed. So as long as you have the end date when You want to be well, everyday will feel like a countdown.
Putting a time limit to your healing puts a mark on every single day of you doing the work. This puts us into the “perfectionist” mindset. We must do everything right, we must get well within a certain time frame, or else we have failed. This ultimately sets you up for failure. The focus of trying to do it perfectly day after day is very stressful to the nervous system.
So stop putting expectations to where you should be, how long your willing to give yourself to heal and instead treat each day of your healing journey as another day of getting to know you. Be curious, enjoy learning what its like to be you and get excited about the fact that you are creating a whole new you. Your cleaning out the files and now consciously instead of unconsciously creating the life and health that you want.
2. Focusing on symptoms and body checking
Imagine that for every time you focused on a symptom or body checked, you got paid 25 cents. While that might not sound like much, by the end of your day I can bet some of you would have made yourself $10 bucks or more!
This is a very bad habit that those with chronic illness get themselves into. While I understand how it happens, because I did it too, you have to actively make a choice to change this thinking pattern in your brain in order to break it. I’m not just going to tell you to stop doing it and then not give you a good reason why.
In order to move into the healing phase, your brain has to get out of the conflict phase. Constantly focusing on your symptoms and body checking keeps you in the conflict phase.
The fear that you connect to checking/focusing on the symptoms is enough to tell your brain and body that its under threat. Its going to stay in the fight or flight response, never allowing your brain to move from the conflict phase and your body into the healing phase. By allowing this way of thinking to continue, you are consciously choosing to keep yourself sick.
While this pattern of thinking is most likely running on autopilot from the subconscious, you have to remember that you programmed it to work that way. So if you programmed it to work that way, you can unprogram it. It will take effort to over run those patterns in the beginning but eventually it will stop. Especially when you understand that its when you feel like poo that your actually healing, so as long as you remember that, you can celebrate that you are healing, rather than fearing what your body is doing.
3. Don’t have time to do the work
I need to wait until I have more time. So when is the right time to work on you? This statement in itself has a core belief within it. If I asked you what this means what would you say? What does it mean about you that you don’t have enough time to do the work? What it really means is that you’re not important. That’s the core belief connected to saying that you don’t have time to work on you.
Have you ever found time to do something in your life that was important to you? Maybe go to school, stop working to stay home with your kids. You can make these choices in other ways, why can’t you do it for your health? Most people with chronic illness do a very good job of taking care of others but never of themselves. They were never taught that their own self care is of importance. Often times this comes from having to grow up faster as a kid due to taking care of a family member or siblings, or simply seeing your own mom or dad doing the same thing.
The downside of you not taking time to work on you is that you can only be 50% a mom, a wife, a daughter etc. You can’t give it your all when you don’t feel well. Wouldn’t you want to do those things at 100%?
Yes this work takes time, a relatively short time in the big picture of things. But it is the best time you will ever spend on anything in your life because it not only helps you get back your health and life, it changes your family and heals your children without directly working with them. When you heal you, you heal your children and generations that follow.
So no more excuses of not having the time to work on you. When you say to yourself that you don’t have the time to do this work, remind yourself that you are really saying, I’m not important. Would you tell that to a child? Then why are you telling that to yourself and being ok with it. Its time to shift that thinking.
4. Living in fear of the future
When I was sick it was easy to picture my future being gloom and doom. After all, day after day it was proving that nothing was going to change and my life would forever be like this. But that all changed when I learned about the power of the mind. In particular the Reticular Activating system. If you don’t know what this part of the brain is, I will give you a short explanation.
There is a part of your brain that operates like a computer with a search function. But its even more amazing than a computer. It is programmed by what we focus on and what we identify with.
“We notice only what matches our internal belief systems and identified contexts. If you’re an optometrist, for example, you’ll tend to notice people wearing eyeglasses across a crowded room; if you’re a building contractor, you may notice the room’s physical details.
Have you ever bought a new vehicle and then all of a sudden you start seeing everyone driving the same type of vehicle? This is the RAS at work.
If you focus on the color red right now and then just glance around your environment, if there is any red at all, you’ll see even the tiniest bits of it. <–Try this and see for yourself!
The RAS system also doesn’t know what is real or imagined. So if you imagine a future with yourself still being sick, then it will continue to find proof to align with that. You are controlling your future by the way that you see your future.
So are you thinking about your future with fear or with purpose?
With FEAR, you are moving AWAY from what you want, but you’re attracting what you fear because its the message you are giving the RAS.
With PURPOSE, you are intentionally moving TOWARDS what you want. Example, “I want to be happy, healthy and strong.”
When you are in FEAR, your emotions tend to trigger depression, anxiety, frustration, panic, and overwhelm… AND it actually keeps you connected to what you don’t want.
When you focus on PURPOSE, your emotions will show up as joy, happiness, enthusiasm, and gratitude… AND will tie you to the results you do want.
So, take a moment and reflect… In your journey of healing, how do you approach it?
Is it from a point of FEAR?
“I don’t want to get sick like my parents.”
“I want my symptoms to stop.”
“I’m afraid to make changes, because they might not work.”
Or is it from the position of PURPOSE and intention?
“I want to be healthy and set a good example for my children.”
“I want to be whole and healed.”
“I choose what serves me best because I deserve health.”
Though this may seem like a small difference, it makes an enormous impact.
Reaching towards what you want (PURPOSE), rather than running away from what you don’t want (FEAR), is a key component in attaining your goals surrounding health and personal happiness.
Right now, take a moment to think about your most recent decision around moving forward with your healing? Did you make a decision based on fear or purpose?
By simply shifting your focus from fear to purpose, you send a different message to your brain and body. If you continue to think about your future from a place of fear, your subconscious will continue to fear the future and ultimately do everything it can to keep you sick because it feels that its safer being sick rather than well. Getting well means the future and the future according to what its been programmed with is a scary place.
So your future is in your hands. You are the creator of your life and it all happens within your own mind.
5. Having an illness identity
What does this mean? This means that you have formed an identity around your illness. You are your illness. How do you know if you have an illness identity? Some of the common signs would be that you speak in ways that indicate you are your symptoms/diagnosis.
For example, I can’t do that due to my fibromyalgia. My anxiety is really bad today. Do you hear that when I say that? The ownership of the label, when you use the word “my”. Like my husband or my son. But instead your claiming a partnership, a relationship with your label.
My biggest pet peeve is when people say, “I have a limbic system disfunction.” They have moved away from the medical labels because they have started doing brain retraining work but now have labeled themselves with something else. A limbic system disfunction is indicating that your limibic system is dysfunctioning. That is simply not true and it feeds into the conflict of self devaluation.
Every time you say “I have a limbic system disfunction”, you are telling yourself, your brain, your body, that there is something wrong with it!
There is nothing wrong with your limbic system in the case of chronic illness. In fact its operating exactly how its supposed to based off of the messages your giving it and that it has in its files.
So your language about your illness is very powerful.
The places that you hang out are just as powerful. Are you hanging out in groups that support these “labels”? That support “fighting” the disease or label. That all feeds into this illness identity.
Lastly, some people have had illness for so long, that they don’t know who they are outside of the illness. They have created a life around it and without it, they simply wouldn’t know what to do or who to be. That in its self can keep you stuck. Be creative and imaginative. Imagine what your world would look like when you are healthy, even if it feels like its a fantasy. Its better to live in a fantasy world than a world where you are creating your own suffering. Your brain doesn’t know the difference, and it will act upon whichever one you direct your focus to.
Starting today, change the language that you use with yourself and your illness or symptoms. Rather than staying in an illness identity mindset, shift it to “I’m growing, I’m learning about myself.” I’m unraveling the messages that I have been sending to my body.
6. Thinking that the answer to your healing is outside of you.
Now this kind of thinking is common because of the way that the medicial world has “trained” us to find solutions. Just take this pill and you will get better. But Its not just the medical world, you can even see this in the holistic world of healing too. Take these supplements, take away this food, stay away from this or that and in the meantime, take a detox to cleanse every organ of your body. Both of these approaches tell us that the answers are outside of us.
Its not until these protocols don’t work that we are forced to turn inward.
When we are forced to turn inward, sometimes this mindset follows. A person knows that the work needs to be done on the inside but thinks that there is a special tool or healer that can help them address their traumas, emotions, beliefs and old patterns.
Often when students start my program, they say, “I can’t wait to get the tools to work on my memories, beliefs, etc.” and I say, you already have the tool. You just don’t know how to use it to its full potential. Its between your ears, your own brain.
So when they get to the work, they realize that there isn’t some magic tool that is going to fix them. They have to do it themselves, with my guidance of me showing them how to do it.
I have worked with clients on their health for over 20 years and when I first started, I was the one that everyone came to for answers. I was the one with the protocols to help them “fix” their problems. After a while I burned out because I was playing the role of the healer versus the teacher. It wasn’t until I got sick and started the business that I have now that I realized my approach to helping people needed to change.
I needed to be a teacher. Someone that people didn’t depend on rather, came to for learning how to identify their own patterns and release them so that when they completed my program, they are able to go out into the world and deal with anything that comes their way. That is my role with my clients, to teach them their own abilities to heal themselves. I don’t do the healing.
The answers to your health problems and even into other areas of your life are all within you. Nothing outside of you is needed. When you shift this kind of thinking from dependence of others or things to heal you, to trusting in yourself, a huge transformation within happens, along with the resolution of your physical symptoms.
So do you resonate with any of these ways of thinking? I’ll list them again..
Putting expectations to when you should be better
Focusing on the symptoms and body checking
Saying you don’t have time to do the work
Thinking about the future with fear
Having an illness identity
Thinking that the answer to your healing is outside of you.
Its time to shift these ways of thinking if you want to heal. This is what this work is all about…finding a pattern of thinking that isn’t serving you and then changing it. When you do that you change the response from your brain to your body. Your body will no longer get the messages and it will finally be able to relax and start healing.
How many of these thought patterns are you going to let get in the way of your healing and your life?
Jenny Peterson is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Rewire. She teaches those with chronic symptoms how to stop fearing their body, identify the root cause to their symptoms and how to be their own healer. Learn more about MBR here.