Has someone ever made a remark that hit you the wrong way, and you held onto it far longer than you should? I know it’s happened to me. For whatever reason, I’ve had folks who have made offhand comments to me through the years that have echoed in my head for weeks and months afterward — and the reason is that they resonate with the messages my inner critic is telling me.
All of us have an inner critic. It’s the voice that confirms all our limiting beliefs about ourselves and even seeks evidence to back them up — I’m not enough, I’m unlovable, I’m not attractive, I’m not smart, I’m untrustworthy and unreliable… I call this radio station in my own brain “K-BULL radio” (because everything on it is bull) and when I have the volume turned up, look out! I can’t find an optimistic thought about myself if you pay me! We’ve talked already about how mindset can impact our ability to heal from autoimmune disease. Today I want to dig into the details of these beliefs that hold us back and keep us from living rich, full, healthy lives.
Here’s something to get clear about first, though — while our limiting beliefs can contribute to low self esteem, they come with good intentions. Often, they resonate within us because they’re designed to protect us. Here’s an example: when I was in sixth grade, I was humiliated when a teacher said something in front of the class that made me believe in my core that I was stupid. Ever since, I’ve been fearful of presenting information to groups. It’s been shockingly easy (even as an adult!) to view myself through this lens that was established when I was in elementary school — I’ve even collected evidence over the years to solidify it as fact.
But when that voice comes around nowadays, I know that it’s just trying to protect me from the vulnerability, shame, and embarrassment I felt in sixth grade. That experience was really hard and my subconscious self doesn’t want me to have those unpleasant emotions again. When I believe these limiting beliefs from my subconscious, I keep myself small, hidden, and insecure. I’ve worked hard to recognize it, thank it for its care, and change the station to something more supportive and empowering.
Just like my experience in sixth grade, small incidents can stay with us and end up getting lots of airtime on K-BULL radio over the years. It could be an offhand comment from a coworker, classmate, or boss, or something bigger — like seeing yourself a certain way because of the order in which you were born in your family, or struggling with a tough medical diagnosis. And my clients with autoimmune disease? Well, I find that they’re often tuned into a powerful version of this radio station:
My body is broken…
I’ll always be sick…
I can’t heal…
Why would anyone want to hang out with me?
I can’t eat or drink what they can…
My skin looks disgusting…
I must be unlovable…
Any of this sounding familiar? We all have low moments, but when the story you’re consistently telling yourself, day in and day out, starts to resemble something like this, a dangerous thing can occur: you start to believe that story and create that reality, completely sabotaging all of your efforts to heal.
My autoimmune clients who change everything in their lives — their diet, the materials they come in contact with, their schedules — but still don’t experience healing? It’s often because none of those things matter if you are still listening to K-BULL radio on a regular basis. Our mindset has an incredible capacity to help or hinder our healing process, and without this remedy, it’s so hard to experience wellness and a physical relief.
Today I want to give you some tools to recognize when you’re tuned in to your unhelpful limiting beliefs, tell them “thanks for sharing, but I’m committed to bigger, better things,” and help them move along. So when the you are broken, you are unlovable, and there is something wrong with you voices come blaring across the airwaves, you get to notice them and choose instead to believe that you are whole, that you ARE healing, that you are enough, and your body knows what to do to take care of you. This isn’t some kind of woo-woo “toss some nice self-talk into the sky and it’ll stick” kind of magic. You actually get to practice seeing yourself as whole, enough, healthy and capable. You get to change the channel to another station that is truth and will actually support your healing.
Build Your Awareness
As we discussed recently, anxiety and fear are super triggers for the sympathetic nervous system which keeps our bodies in a chronic stress response, causing and perpetuating disease and literally preventing the healing process from taking place. When we’re stressed, we can’t heal because our body requires a parasympathetic state to recover and heal. Thus, it’s key to approach autoimmune disease from a place of empowerment, abundance, peace, and even trust. This means we understand that in every moment, every day, we have a choice in how we respond to our reality.
The hardest (and most profound) part here is to catch yourself when you start slipping into a sabotaging mindset. You don’t even have to do anything in the moment other than saying, “Oh! Look where I am going again. How interesting.” You may want to go further here and get curious about why you might be responding this way, asking yourself what limiting belief is showing up. The most important part is simply to realize it’s happening and pause.
Choose What You Want to Create
Once you’ve caught yourself listening to K-BULL radio, the next step is to remind yourself that you get to choose how to respond. Reread this article on ways of being if you need a refresher. You get to choose new thoughts and new ways of being that actually support healing. This is the perfect time to change the channel and choose a mindset and belief system that is more true and will actually support healing. For example: “I trust my body. I am worthy and enough in this moment. Nothing needs to change, I have everything I need. I can choose connection with others when everything in me wants to isolate and reject. I can choose worthiness when everything inside me wants to believe that I lack worth and am not enough. I can even choose empowerment when I feel like the world is giving me more than I can handle.”
The specific wording isn’t important. What’s important is that you tap into ways of being and believing that are true to your core essence — who you really are — and that you reject the story that is actually standing in your way of a better life.
Treat It Like the Gym
Your positive mindset might need some strength training and conditioning — this is hard stuff! (When I decided I wanted to learn how to do a pull up, I definitely couldn’t do it on day one. In fact, it took over six months of dedicated training to build up my strength.) The same thing goes for a supportive mindset. If you’ve been in a rut with listening to your limiting beliefs for a long time, that’s what’s comfortable and familiar. The neural pathways in your brain that are associated with positive thinking may not have been exercised in a while and you shouldn’t expect it to be easy right off the bat.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Don’t get caught up in defeat when self-love and knowing your truth doesn’t feel natural. Remind yourself to have a sense of humor about it and keep trying. In my career, I’ve had to actively choose to believe that I have strength, worthiness, and value — and it takes constant. Freaking. Practice.
Develop a Support System
I can’t emphasize the importance of accountability in this process enough. Let your friends and family know that you’re actively working on having a more supportive mindset. Or, just let one trusted confidant in on the process. If you’re open to it, invite them to let you know when you’re slipping into limiting belief patterns or if they can tell you’re listening to K-BULL radio. This is a win-win scenario: you get some accountability, and they get the opportunity to know you in deeper ways, as well! Not only that, but now you have someone who is invested in your healing that can actually do something to help. So often with autoimmune disease, our friends and family have to sit by without being able to lend a hand, knowing we’re in pain. This process can change that!
I’m so curious: what does your version of K-BULL radio sound like? What are some strategies you use to counteract it and show yourself more support? Share in the comments below!
I LOVE this article. Mindset is a huge part of the healing journey. Sarah’s article hits home. Building a new muscle that focuses on positivity, worthiness, and trusting myself is essential to creating the foundation that supports my goals and my health. It is so helpful to read a piece that focuses on this part of the healing process. Building my support network has been hard. Letting people in without feeling like they don’t believe me or that they are judging me is an internal battle. These tools will help me to exercise my brain pathways, as I build a new identity around what works for me and why I am worth of healing.
Thanks for sharing, Tash. You are most definitely worth healing, and I’m glad you see that.
Thank you for very valuable information and insight into the emotional impact of autoimmune conditions
Thanks for sharing, Ismail.
Excellent. This was extraordinarily helpful! And the timing perfect. Turning off KBull.
Thanks for sharing, Jody. How has turning off K-Bull radio been for you? Let me know how I can support you. My K-Bull can be loud and relentless! Catching it and changing the channel is most definitely a practice.
Thank you for the fresh look at how our subconscious is just trying to protect us. It kind of warmed my heart ❤️. I struggle with KBULL and feeling like It is my responsibility to fix everyone and then I get to be the failure when I can’t. Such a set up to not take care of myself!! I look forward to redirecting my inner voice and see how it feels to take care of me at a much deeper level.
What a valuable insight! Great awareness that your pattern to fix everyone leads you to feeling like a failure and even to abandoning yourself. Dig deep into where that belief came from–why do you believe you need to fix everyone? Where did you learn that you have failed when you can’t fix someone else? When we can get clear about where the belief came from we can start to loosen our death grip of it. Notice how the stories that triggered that belief aren’t remotely connected to the application you have subconsciously created over the years. Observe how often the pattern comes up and practice changing the channel to a belief and thought process that is more aligned with the truth. Like, “when I am taken care of and my cup is full, I am more able to be supportive and caring to others.” “I deserve the things I love.” “I am worthy of downtime and rest.” “Time off helps everyone in the long run.”
Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. Let me know how I can support you in shifting your patterns of wanting to fix everyone!
Thanks, Sarah, for your insightful and eye opening articles! Being a clinical social worker, one would think I would approach life (or at least try to approach life) in this matter. Not. at. all. In graduate school, my professors continuously stressed self-care. Up until becoming ill myself, I associated self-care with working out, eating well-ish, and getting the occasional manicure or massage. I now understand self-care is not a single, isolated act but rather a way of being. Always caring for yourself, even if it does not come naturally (like turning KBull off). Thanks again!
Said so well, Lisa–“I now understand self-care is not a single, isolated act but rather a way of being.” Nailed it! Like you, as a nurse I was taught to carve out time for self-care. I still advocate for self-care activities (I call it soul-centered self-care–which are activities that your heart/spirit yearn for versus the self-care activities that are scripted, prescribed and not totally relaxing because it’s forced). I’ve also come to learn that we get to activate our parasympathetic nervous system throughout the entire day by consciously choosing how we respond to life and deciding what beliefs and stories are worth subscribing to. The latter form of stress management is powerful enough to deeply transform the body and support healing in unfathomable ways. I see it in my practice on a regular basis. Change the channel, literally, change your life.
I found this extremely validating and helpful. It’s so hard to circumvent these negative self images when those you go to for healing contribute to sabatoging the positive things you try and do for yourself. Inner strength is particularly hard to summon during these times. Thanks for the encouragement and putting words to what it’s like to experience invisible illness.
Thanks for sharing, Georgia. It can be hard to circumvent our loud inner critic when we aren’t being supported by those around us. I hear you! It sounds like you will have many opportunities to practice what you choose to believe and to put conscious attention into what you want to create.
We have 100% control in which stories we believe–we choose what we believe. Notice the loud K-Bull radio that turns on when you are with those who aren’t supportive and they bring up doubt, insecurity, unworthiness, fear, inadequacy, hurt, victimhood, or whatever the story is that runs in your head. Catch it! Turn the channel to what it is you most want to believe “I am enough.” “I am healing.” “I am intelligent. I know what my body needs.” “I am strong and powerful.” “I am valuable.” “I’ve got this.” Watch to see if you have a tendency to take it personal when your support system isn’t being supportive in the ways you want. Can you stay in support of yourself, when those around you are flaking out or fearful/anxious because of their own beliefs/stories/ideas. Let them have their experience and you get to commit to your own truth–with or without their approval. Choose authenticity. Choose honesty. Choose standing in your truth. You got this!
[…] The empowered mindset takes practice. It's not about perfectionism. The goal is to increase it in our lives, while also being gentle with ourselves through the process. Resource: Change the Channel. […]