Mindset Is Everything: 3 Beliefs to Remember When Overcoming Chronic Illness

By

Kelly D.

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Published on

June 07, 2024

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Updated on

June 07, 2024

Nervous System Regulation

Why Mindset Matters When It Comes To Recovery

It is 9:15 in the morning, and you can feel the red in your face and the sweat on your palms as you fumble around trying to turn on your laptop at your desk after rushing up the stairs into your office. Once you turn on power to the computer, you shrink as your 9:30 team meeting is looming, and the computer casually messages, “Please wait. Installing updates”. You internally sigh as you also try to forget the previous hour when your child, yet again, adamantly refused to get up for the bus, so you had to drop them off at school. Shoving that memory down into the depths, so you can try and focus on task A at hand, you automatically hunch your shoulders. Your mind is still in about six or eight places as you scramble trying to get yourself together, when for the icing on the cake, your stomach sinks as you realize you forgot to save your updates for the meeting to the team file... Hopefully those throbbing forehead blood vessels won’t be visible for all to see.

As you are experiencing this series of reactions, you probably do not understand why your body is responding in this way. To get clarity, you can start to get to the root of why your body reacted. So, start with “why?”

Why did you react in this way? Well, almost since you woke up, you have been stressed.

Why? You weren’t expecting to be late and not prepared for your team meeting.

Why? You’d like to do a good job supporting your team and the business, as this is your job, and you are trying to build a career and make a living supporting yourself and your family.

Why? We need money to afford resources, such as food and shelter to live.

Why? We would perish otherwise.

Belief: I am in danger.

This is an example of how a specific idea, attitude or belief actually influences how our brain and body conduct themselves. In this case, your body became completely engaged in the fight or flight response because your mind believed you were in danger. Since your mind believed this, you experienced physiological responses, i.e., sweaty palms, hunched shoulders, flighty thoughts, and a knotted stomach. These physiological responses were activated due to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Yes, our bodies will react differently depending on our mindset. When it comes to mindsets and beliefs, particularly those we hold about ourselves, such as our ability to recover and bounce back from challenges, those physiological activities can be even more pronounced.

Continue reading to learn why mindset is everything when you're stuck in the loops of chronic illness, and understand why and how you can shift your mentality for healing.

The 3 Core Beliefs To Adopt To Optimize Your Recovery 

Belief 1: I Am Safe 

Why it’s significant

In the body, you have the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (fight or flight) states. In an optimally functioning body, the system is designed to keep you safe and protect you. When you encounter a stressor or danger, like a bear coming after you or an upcoming deadline, the fight or flight state is activated.

When you feel safe, you enter the rest and digest state. However, with limbic impairment, the fight-or-flight response remains on. If left unaddressed for long periods of time, this persistent stress response can cause your body to begin to break down. Think of the gas pedal in the car. You can’t always keep the gas on, or you’ll burn up your car engine. Being in fight or flight mode, your body thinks you are in danger and unsafe. 

Why it works

Creating a new belief or adopting a new mindset (I am safe) allows your body to return to homeostasis. Internalizing this belief allows you to take your foot off the gas pedal so your body can return to rest and digest.  

Belief 2: My Body Is My Ally, Not My Enemy 

Why it’s significant 

When you have been struggling with a chronic illness, it may feel as if you have an internal war going on within your body. You might find it difficult to believe, especially after all the diets, treatment plans, and supplement regimes you've been through that failed to produce the desired results, but your body is actually still working hard for you. The immune system evolved to be able to protect you, but when caught in the loop of chronic illness, it can feel as if your body is the enemy. 

Why it works 

Treating your body like the enemy puts it in a further fight-or-flight mode and releases more cortisol and adrenaline in an already compromised system. If you understand that your body is your ally and trying to help you, you can return to a rest and digest state. So, remember: “My body is my ally, not my enemy.”

Belief 3: My Body Is Equipped To Heal 

Why it’s significant

If you accidentally cut your finger or bump your leg on a table, you don’t need to directly tell your body to heal. Over time, your blood will start to coagulate, and the cut or bump will naturally heal. Our bodies are designed to be able to handle physical and mental challenges.

In moments when your symptoms are interfering with your personal life, daily activities, or relationships, it can be difficult not to focus on the symptoms—but these thoughts turn on the fight or flight response. To shift out of this state, focusing on the future instead of the current moment can be helpful, and remember that, however uncomfortable the moment may be, it’s temporary, and it will pass. Even remind yourself and say to yourself: In the long term, my body is equipped to handle anything and heal.

Why it works 

Shifting your mindset will return you to the rest and digest state and, over time, slowly build your body’s resilience to where you can handle more challenges.

Inhabiting Better Beliefs Can Positively Rewire Your Brain 

Adopting new mindsets, values, and beliefs is a practice that, when done repeatedly, leads to the successful formation of new neural pathways. When this occurs, and your mind defaults to these new beliefs, your body and mind will automatically be put into a state of ease. From this new empowered state, you are creating an internal environment that is optimized for healing.

It is also essential to have some grace with the process when forming new beliefs. Your body has most likely been in fight-or-flight mode for months, years, or even decades, and old beliefs and mindsets can be deeply conditioned. Building awareness and cultivating a new mindset takes determination. But the good news is that there’s hope—personal growth and healing are possible. In the same way your brain may have learned to inhabit these old beliefs and mindsets, it can be retrained to create and default to these new empowering narratives for a healthier, happier life.

It takes time for internal mindset changes to show up as physical improvements. But the reality is, with patience and persistence, you can make shifts that will serve you for a lifetime.

If you're interested in learning more about mindsets, belief effects, and how to retrain your brain to help heal your body, check out the re-origin neuroplasticity program. 

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By

Kelly D.

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