Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Are You Thinking Yourself Sick?

Hopefully, if you are ill you will read this blogpost with an open mind. Lots of ill folks aren't ready to hear what I'm going to say and yes, I will most certainly make a percentage of these folks mad. However, for the people who are ready to hear what I'm going to say this is going to make a huge difference in their life. If I reach even just one person it's worth the rest of you getting mad at me.

Why do people settle for less than a happy and healthy life? Certainly, we would all say we desire to be happy and healthy. But are we all programmed with a mindset which allows us to live happy healthy lives. Obviously not.

As a holistic health coach I keep bumping into a wall. Many people say they want to be well but won't take the actions needed to improve their health. It perplexes me and I'll tell you why. In my own life I got very sick, in fact, my illness and subsequent remission is the reason I went back and earned a Masters in Holistic Nutrition. In my illness I followed my physicians recommendations (and I had an army of docs) but when I heard to many "I don't knows" and was on the verge of being forced to go on disability, I looked outside of my physicians for the answers to getting my life back. I wanted my life back and wasn't going to let the disease run my life. Nor do I believe God (the Universe,Higher Power etc) gives us sickness or intends for anyone to live a life of sickness.

What I have had a hard time understanding (till now) is why some people when diagnosed with a chronic illness will take a hard look at their lifestyle and make healthy changes or when their medical treatment isn't creating a hopeful result go seek answers on their own to get well and take the actions they need to to do so (like I did) while others don't. Most settle for their doctors answers (or lack thereof) and in many cases allow their disease to rule their lives.

I've worked in hospital healthcare for almost 30 years. Thru the years I have seen countless people with a variety of disorders; COPD, Diabetes, Arthritis, Cardiac disease, come in and out of the hospital over and over. I've seen more times than I want to think about; the sad, steady deterioration of these people as they go in and out of the hospital over a period of years. There are some common denominators with this group of people. The vast majority do nothing (or next to nothing) on their own to enhance their health. The overwhelming majority of these people did not live the healthiest of lifestyles before they got sick and did not change their diet to one nutritionally healthier with more physical activity after they got sick. They have spent a lifetime eating mostly processed foods,fast foods and junkfood snacks. They depend on their prescribed medications to regulate their disease (though I would be remiss if I didn't point out some don't even take their meds as prescribed). And when a new problem pops up they go back to their doctor for another medication. I've seen people with a list of 22 medications, who have NOT changed their nutrition or added exercise to their lifestyle.

In thinking about this I realized these people are no different from folks who work at a job their whole life which doesn't particularly give them much satisfaction. I won't address that topic here see this blogpost for that discussion How Are YOU Programmed?" But I will say people stay in situations because they believe they can't change them to something better. In my thinking I also realized the answer to my personal question; "Why did I get my life back from my illness?" I'll answer this in a minute.

Why do people settle for struggling with an illness?

The answer is simple. People settle for struggling with an illness because they believe they can't get well. Why did I get my life back from my illness? In their notes my doctors referred to me as "steroid dependent" and "unfortunate". My doctors basically told me I couldn't get well; that I would never get off of steroids and was doomed to live the painful life I was living. I refused to BELIEVE that.

If you truly believe you can't get well you aren't going to take the actions needed to get well. I'll go one step farther; your body and mind talk to each other; if you don't believe you can be well nothing you do will get you to a place of wellness. I didn't buy into my doctors negativity, therefore I was able and motivated to look outside of them for answers. I was fortunate to have people in my life who reinforced the belief I could be healthy and who alerted me to the body/mind connection and the power of nutrition.

Let's back up for a minute, how are you programmed to get sick to begin with?

Well, how much tv do you watch? News shows are filled with negativity. Many television shows and movies have negative story lines. Negativity affects you. Additionally, television commercials are designed to brainwash you to a certain way of thinking and to take certain actions. What do you commonly hear in television commercials? Eat this processed food, drink this soda, take this drug, eat this snack, slather on this skin cream, etc. Television commercials reinforce unhealthy habits. How many commercials are you inundated with during an evening of television? How many of those foods, drinks, snacks and skin creams do you use?

Seemingly insignificant remarks made to you in childhood by your parents and teachers may have reinforced a belief you "weren't strong". Children internalize the comments they hear. A comment that a child is "not strong" creates this belief in the mindset of the child. Children who grow up with a "sickly" mindset become sickly adults. (That was me.) Comments regarding a childs "sickliness" start a negative "I'm sickly" pattern of thinking in the childs thoughts. Thoughts repeated over and over become beliefs and finally manifest in your life.

Many people work so hard at their career health is put on the back burner. They are programmed with core beliefs about working hard which put them at risk of neglecting and thus, harming their health. (That was me too.) Balance in life is imperative to have a healthy body/mind.

Think about the people with which you spend the most time. Are they positive or negative? Do they uplift you? Hanging with negative people keeps a negative tape going in your thoughts. Negative people enable you to stay sick. Don't hang out with people who don't uplift you. It is hard to cut an old friend out of your life but for the sake of your health this may be what you need to do.

How do you begin to change your sickness situation?

1. If you have a negative doctor find a positive doctor. Do not allow a doctor to attach negative labels to you. Also understand your doctor is one person. One person can only have a limited view of the options open to you. Research your options. Keep your doctor apprised of what you learn and/or do to improve your situation. In the sixteen years my disorder was active not one of my physicians asked about or made any suggestions about my nutritional intake. Nutrition was paramount in my remission.

2. If you belong to a disease support group where the meetings are focused on each member discussing their lousy fate get away from these people. This kind of support group will keep you sick because it is illness-focused. I used to be a support group leader of a group just like this until I realized this was not the way to help people. Disease support groups which focus on the negatives happening in the participants lives enable the continuance of a victimhood thought pattern. Wellness is not created by focusing on illness.

3. Change your thoughts. Thoughts affect your beliefs. Beliefs affect your health. When a negative thought enters your mind replace it with a positive one. Keep an index card with you with positive health affirmations written on it. Review these affirmations often during the day.

4. Do something nice for someone else every day. Don't be focused just on yourself and your illness. What you give out comes back to you.

5. It is of paramount importance to give yourself whole foods. Unlike processed foods whole foods have the enzymes, vitamins, minerals your body needs to fight disease. Banish artificial sweeteners, processed foods (and their accompanying chemicals) and sugar from your life.

6. Socialize with positive people who uplift you. Cut negative folks out of your life. Get your health back. When you are stronger you may or may not decide to see those folks on a limited basis. (If you must have them in your life.) Who knows? Maybe your positive modeling will encourage them to change.

7. Concentrate on the positive. Start a gratitude journal. Each morning or nite write about what you are grateful about. Write about the good things in your life. You might also keep a log of the healthy whole foods you ate and your feelings about them.

People settle for the bad things in life because they don't believe they can change them. But many bad things start inside of you in your mind. You have thousands upon thousands of thoughts every day. If you tell yourself in your thoughts over and over that you are sick; you aren't giving yourself the possibility of being well. Your thoughts create beliefs. Give yourself permission to take the actions needed to rebuild your health. Give your body the chance to fight to get well. Make your thoughts positive. Determine to manifest a healthy happy life.

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