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!