(..a continuation of the blog post ‘The undeniable impact of our environment and beliefs on our health’)
As a society, we have been programmed to believe that we are victims and that we have no control over many areas of our life, particularly our health.
We’re also programmed from birth with our parents’ beliefs. For example, when we are sick, we are told by our parents that we need to go to the doctor because the doctor is the authority concerning our health. We are all given the message throughout childhood that the medical profession is the authority on health and that there are many areas of our life over which we have no control. The irony, however, is that people often get better while waiting to see their doctor. That’s when the innate ability for self-healing kicks in, another example of the placebo effect.
Reclaiming our power over our health can help us heal and doing so is, in fact, necessary for us to truly heal. Yet simply ‘thinking positively’ and reciting affirmations for hours on end doesn’t always bring about the results that self-help books promise.
This is because positive thoughts come from the conscious mind, while contradictory negative thoughts are usually programmed in the more powerful subconscious mind.
The problem is that we are aware of our conscious beliefs and behaviours, but unaware of our subconscious ones. Our subconscious mind is far more powerful than our conscious mind, meaning that we operate around 95% from our subconscious beliefs and programmes. These are working either for or against us, and our subconscious mind will always supersede our conscious control.
Therefore, just telling ourselves that we are healthy isn’t good enough – if there is an invisible subconscious programme that is sabotaging us.
The power of the subconscious mind is revealed in a fascinating way in Multiple Personality Disorder (now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)) where, for example an individual may be allergic to a certain fruit when occupying the mind-set of one personality, while happily eating the same fruit without consequence in the mind-set of another personality.
So, how do we change the negative thoughts and programmes in our subconscious mind?
We first need to let go of guilt and self-blame – after all, we were downloaded with these limiting programmes in our childhood without being consciously aware of them.
We must also recognize that we are the driver in the direction our life is taking, and that we are responsible for our own health.
- To change our beliefs, we have to be as honest as possible with what they are in the first place. This involves becoming adept at catching our thoughts.
Whenever we start to feel upset or uncomfortable in a situation, we need to make it a habit to turn our attention to what our thoughts are. The core beliefs we need to work on will be hidden behind our negative thinking patterns.
Tools that help:
- Journaling daily
- Pausing every hour or so to notice what we are thinking
- Mindfulness – this is one of the best tools there is for learning to hear our thoughts
- Breaking thoughts down to beliefs.
If we can work to recognise what thought is upsetting us, we can then ask ourselves ‘Is this true?’, and then try to uncover what the belief behind the thought is.
A great way to do this is to ask ourselves ‘If this thought is true, what does it mean?’ By repeating this question to ourselves we often experience a wave of emotion, or an ‘aha’ feeling.
This will inevitably be the core belief.
For example, say that the thought is “nobody at work likes me”. The process might look like this:
“If it’s true that nobody at work likes me, it means there is something wrong with me. If it’s true there is something wrong with me, it means I am flawed. If that’s true, it means I’m never going to be as good as my colleagues. If that’s true, it means I am the worst. If I’m the worst, it means I’m worthless. Oh goodness that feels like a punch to the gut. That’s my core belief – that I’m worthless.” (https://www.harleytherapy.co.uk/counselling/how-to-change-your-core-beliefs.html)
- Try to change perspective
This means we take the core belief we’ve discovered and see it from a completely different angle. For example ‘If I asked my colleague if he/she thought I was worthless, what would they say’? Or, ‘Who gave me the idea that I was worthless? Was it because they felt this way about themselves and were projecting this thought on me?’
The point of doing this is to notice how changeable, and therefore not factual, beliefs really are.
It also enables us to consider ‘what might be a better thought?’
This involves acting out a belief to see if we can prove it to be correct. The brain loves to think it has ‘proof’.
We think of a belief we want to challenge. We then think of a few small actions we can take to test if this belief is true. Then we write down all the things we assume will happen when we do these actions. We carry out those actions and write down what actually happened. What was the difference was between the reality and our belief?
What new beliefs might our actions actually show us?
- Learn belief triggers
If we have a particular core belief that we find really hard to shake off, it can help to learn what triggers it most and then find ways to respond differently to the trigger. It can help to ask:
Who are we with when this belief tends to rise up? Where are we? What are we doing? How are we feeling?
For example, does the core belief trigger most often when we visit a member of family? Could we set some boundaries around how often we visit that person, or how long each visit lasts? Could we try to respond differently to them or take some time out during the visit?
In addition to the above, various techniques are now available if you would prefer to see a trained therapist. These include (and are not limited to):
- the use of affirmations
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
- Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)
- Intensive Short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP)
By rewiring the subconscious thoughts that negatively impact our cells, we have a far greater chance of healing.