Season 2 Episode 10 of Quiet the Diet Podcast with Michelle Shapiro, RD
How to Heal from Chronic Illness Symptoms
In this episode, Michelle takes you through what it’s like to live with a chronic illness, and how to actually start healing when you feel like it’s impossible. Keep reading to learn how to improve your chronic symptoms for good!
How to Begin Your Healing Journey
Keep reading for actionable steps to get you through the healing process such as:
- How to stop negative thought spirals
- How to reduce anxiety related to your chronic illness
- Ways to push forward when you feel “stuck”
- When to fight, and when to surrender
- Why elimination diets may hurt instead of help
- How to promote safety in the body
Just Start Somewhere: 8-week Fitness and Nutrition Guide
Our step-by-step guide for getting into (or back into) an exercise routine! This e-book includes 8 weeks of nutrition tips and workouts, created by Registered Dietitians and a Personal Trainer. Our program was designed to ease you back into exercise in a way that feels doable and empowering!
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I know I don’t have to tell you this but this episode is only for educational purposes. It is not nutrition or personalized medical advice.
8-Week Fitness and Nutrition Guide: JUST START SOMEWHERE
Today marks not only one of my favorite podcast episodes I’ve ever done or will ever do, but also the launch of our Just Start Somewhere program. The Just Start Somewhere program is an eight week fitness and nutrition ebook that Nicki Parlitsis, our amazing staff dietitian, and I developed and Nicki is not only an amazing registered dietitian, and she’s also a certified personal trainer.
And I have felt like for the past nine years of my practice that I wanted to create something that was nutrition centered with a fitness focus that was able to be done from home at a really low cost. And that’s exactly what we’ve been able to develop. This is not only a kind of list of different fitness and exercises you can do, but it’s really a step by step guide on how to start somewhere.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by conflicting fitness and nutrition information you can be at any level of fitness or nutrition to engage in this program. You can be super advanced and having worked with a dietitian like myself or someone else for many years, you can be advanced from a fitness perspective, you can be totally new from a fitness perspective. We have something for everyone in the e book.
The minute that you sign up, you get this ebook delivered to you right into your inbox and a little pop up will come for you to download it you can start literally today and what’s so important For me to express is that in all of my years as a dietitian, what I’ve noticed that a lot of people struggle with is that overwhelm of knowing where to start.
So that’s why we really call it Just Start Somewhere, it’s just for you to take that first step. And because I want all of you to know that no matter where you are in a chronic illness, health, fitness, any kind of journey, there’s always one tiny step you can take. And you can always just start somewhere. And we want people to be able to do that from home.
So I’m really excited to launch this amazing ebook program for you, you can sign up right in the link in the show notes. I’ll of course shared on Instagram too. And we’re putting all of our skills to good use here, we’re throwing the book at you not in a bad way and a good way. All that we have all of our knowledge to be able to share with you at the lowest cost possible.
So I went into my dietetic internship almost 10 years ago today, and what I thought I would be practicing in nutrition is so much different than what I actually practice now. And so much of that has to do with the fact that I learned from either personal experience or professional experience, that what a lot of us need when it comes to health far extends outside of the realm of just the foods we’re eating, the way we’re eating them, or anything like that.
Although nutrition is, of course, at the forefront of all the work that I do, and the heart of what I do, I’ve really learned about healing, kind of as its own entity when it comes to clients. And what I’ve really seen in these nine years as a dietitian and 10 years since I started my internship was that people who were struggling with chronic illness not only had the symptoms of chronic illness themselves, but accompanying them, they also had nervous system dysregulation. And I know this is kind of like a catch all.
The Nervous System and Chronic Illness
For everything we’re seeing right now, like everyone’s talking about the nervous system, the nervous system, and I want to make it kind of real for us. You know, I started my journey into nutrition, of course, from a personal standpoint, anxiety issues, gut issues, weight loss goals. And my practice with anxiety has always been really centered around, you have the symptom of anxiety, and that’s coming from something that could be physical or mental. And then we have a reaction to that symptom.
What I’ve really been honing in on recently, and then I want to share with you today is that that doesn’t just apply to anxiety. So what’s happening a lot with people who have kind of long term chronic conditions, or they for a long period of time have wanted the same health results, they want to lose weight, but they’re not able to or again, they’re suffering from some sort of chronic issues, I kind of see the progression of those issues as having again, both these kind of physical experience of having these conditions and then our reaction to having them. This is not usually consciously known.
I’m going to just kind of walk you through an example of what this looks like in the last episode, we talked about bloating, and how Bloating is kind of the symptom that we have. And then we react to that symptom. And we say, oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m so uncomfortable. I can’t believe this is happening to me, Oh my gosh. And then our nervous system starts kicking in and we start getting a whole new slew of symptoms.
When our nervous system starts kicking in, and we have neuro activity, we then also ultimately might have immune activity which can lead to kind of another round of symptoms in a different way. I see this a lot of the times in anxiety because people are experiencing anxiety, and then the side effects of anxiety they’re experiencing like the dizziness from the leftover kind of adrenaline hanging around visual disturbances, heart pounding, all these things that happen kind of after are almost as distressing as the anxiety itself and then we start reacting to those symptoms.
In the case of chronic illness, our brains are so smart because they know that something doesn’t feel right. And we have this kind of again evolutionary mechanism to alarm us when there’s any sort of danger. The issue is that with people who are suffering from chronic illness, what can happen is that danger alarm can be unchecked and stay on all the time. And the exact symptoms that you’re uncomfortable experiencing can be perpetuated by our response. Again, I just want to make something clear.
All of this is happening on a subconscious level. It’s not like people are doing this to themselves aren’t intentionally causing this neuro immunological response. Most people are doing every single thing they can to feel better. And when it comes to chronic illness, we have to start looking at not only the conditions and the pain and the discomfort themselves, but how we react to those symptoms.
I think probably the most important piece of healing that needs to happen is actually not in those physical symptoms, not about chasing those supplements, not about any of that. It’s about accepting, and tolerating what discomfort we can, and changing things when we can, our inclination is always to jump to change and uncomfortable symptom or to suppress it and whatever way we can.
But if we kind of can listen to what the body is giving us in that moment, and in whatever way possible, tolerate or ride out, kind of those uncomfortable sensations, that secondary reaction response, that limbic system involvement, when your amygdala starts getting involved, can really be reduced. And that can lead to less symptoms, ultimately, which is really, really important for people to hear. So it’s like what we kind of deal with now, we don’t have to deal with later almost, it’s really hard when you’re experiencing chronic illness, though this is all like an easier said than done kind of conversation.
Healing from chronic gut issues
Because, again, our body has evidence, let’s say in the case of someone who’s chronically has got issues, if you’ve had chronic gut issues for 20 years, there’s no reason your brain will believe you that you’re going to heal, right, I’m laughing at that, because it’s like, there’s no evidence that your brain is going to say, Oh, of course, I’m gonna get better, I’ve gotten better before. So when it comes to chronic illness, you almost have to be bold, and you almost have to be what might feel like a little bit fake, have give yourself some false positivity, or might feel like toxic positivity.
Because the belief itself, that healing is possible, actually shifts the activity of that fear response shifts that activity of your kind of nervous system reactivity, right. So it’s just as important to kind of initiate with the belief that I may feel this way today. But I might not feel this way tomorrow as it is to take your supplements or do anything else. I can’t give exact percentages. But I would say again, when someone’s suffering from chronic illness, some of it, let’s just call it 50%, probably not, let’s just call it 50% of the symptoms they’re experiencing are from the actual condition, and 50% of them are from the response that we have to the symptoms that we’re having.
What we can learn from our symptoms
If you can in the moment, you’re having symptoms immediately, call it out and say, Hey, I’m having this symptom, I really don’t like it, pause, and then tell yourself, this symptom is temporary. I’m just experiencing this now. And what can I learn from this symptom, there are formal programs for you to do limbic system retraining. Also, this podcast is never medical or nutrition advice I want you guys just understand this really high level, what power you have, and what say you have and your healing.
Another conversation I want to open up around this is that we go to doctors or we go to a nutritionist, and we want to outsource our healing capacity to them. And we say please, do this, for me make me heal. And it’s so important to understand that the harsh reality is that no one can make us heal besides ourselves. So we have to have agency and we have to have the knowingness and the power to know that some of what we can do comes down just to us.
The supplements are great, the foods we’re eating are great, but healing the actual act of healing. It comes from a deep place of responsibility on self. And that staying so I’m sorry to say that I wish I could tell you that and I certainly for my clients wish that I could just have them come to me and I could instantly take all their pain away. But a lot of the journey that I have with my clients is actually granting their power back to themselves and saying, Please take this back.
When a symptom comes up for my clients, I’m always exploring with them. We can sometimes come up with explanations but the more important thing is that they always know that they are in control and that they are the one who has the ability to make impact and make moves. healers are amazing. Practitioners are amazing. I am one I love it. I love what I do more than anything in the world. But the power to heal actually has to come from you. And once we know we have that power, I know that attach that power can be a lot of responsibility.
But I just really want you to Feel the positivity of that power, that what we do with our minds and what we do with our actions can tangibly change our path of healing, that’s such an awesome thing. And sometimes it takes just an amount of belief. And sometimes it takes really structured and specific, retraining programs to help us do that on a conscious or subconscious level.
What to do when you’re frantically searching for answers
What happens when someone has chronic illness for a long period of time, generally it gets more compounds over time, is that they may start becoming really hyper vigilant around their symptoms. And this is something that’s why working with a practitioner is so amazing is because, again, oh, I’m bloated. This means this, I may have eaten this food that led to this thing.
What our brain is really trying to do in those moments is search for answers to the problem, our smart, beautiful, brilliant brains are trying to search for answers. Why did this happen? How can I prevent this from happening again? And where the shift I think needs to happen for people, is when you start to hear yourself being hyper vigilant around your symptoms, saying, Oh, I can’t do this, I shouldn’t have done that.
I ate this food and cause this, I’m allergic to this food I’ve been taught is to just sit in whatever that symptom is, and allow your body to talk to you. Allow your body to tell you what’s going on. The thoughts are the response, the thoughts are that nervous system response I was telling you about. So we want to find the answers to when we’re having chronic symptoms, in words in action.
Oftentimes, the answer to those symptoms is going to come in peace and solace and surrender. I don’t know what other words to say. Now, I want you to understand if you’re having any sort of medical emergency, I do not want you to listen to the words of this podcast, I want you to go get help for that medical emergency. If this is something again, that’s chronic, something you’ve experienced before, and you feel like this is your jurisdiction completely if you get medical care, but it’s something you are planning or ready to experience at home without the help of a medical professional. That is the advice here or not the advice exploration here.
So we again, as we continue to get sicker and sicker over time, our brain is constantly searching for signals of unsafety. And another thing that’s really important in the kind of practice of healing is constantly trying to give yourself signals of safety when you have chronic illness. And I know that I’ve experienced this many different types of ways in my life, I’ve had a lot of different what would be considered chronic illnesses over time, your world gets smaller and smaller.
How to push forward when you feel “stuck”
The reason for that is the things that you feel are safe gets smaller and smaller. And I know a lot of advice around chronic illness is to set really strong boundaries and not push yourself. And let me tell you, that is good advice and really important. But the other piece of this is that as you know, Dr. Kachko in season one told us our nervous system learns by example. So if you continue to believe that something is unsafe, that going to socialize with friends is unsafe, that doing all these things is unsafe, our nervous system learns and remembers that. And your world gets smaller and smaller.
One of the most dangerous things with chronic illness is isolation. So limiting yourself from connection and instructing to your body that you are sick and identifying with illness and becoming the identity of illness is one of the ways I think that we stay sick. So there’s a balance and there’s a special spot between knowing when it’s time to fight like hell for your health, to try everything to you know, get out there and live and experience life and when there’s times to rest and recover.
I truly believe every single person knows what those limits are. And what I would encourage you to do is if you have those limits, but you know, it’s something that’s going to be good for you like let’s say, someone says they have, let’s say, POTS, Post Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and they feel their heart rate pounds when they’re standing up. They are afraid to exercise but they know exercise and reconditioning is essential for the condition.
What I would say is think about what 10% Of a challenge looks like, what 10% Of a little bit unsafe looks like and go to that line. So that might be for someone with pots starting walking around their home. And then it might be in two weeks doing some gentle outside walking, and it might be in a month doing a little bit more of that. truly and honestly inventory, how much you’ve closed in because of chronic illness how much of your life you’ve catered to chronic illness, understand what are your true limitations and what are your fears, inventory yourself and your health.
I think have a blind belief that where you are is not forever and where you are things even in the slightest way can get better because I put I’m assuming there’s some nervous system involvement and chronic illness which it wouldn’t even make sense. If you had a chronic long standing illness and you didn’t have nervous system involvement, it would be like your that would mean your body’s not reacting to your environment and not instructing you on what’s safe. So it’s almost inevitable.
How do you get relief from chronic illness
If there’s any nervous system involvement, you can at least get relief from those symptoms. By slowly extending what feels safe to you, slowly reintroducing things that make you feel like you, and taking back what you feel like chronic illness is taken from you in whatever way possible. I am not saying that you can fix any of the problems that are happening in your body in an instant, quite the opposite. I’m saying that where you are right now is not where you are forever, that I know for sure I know how you feel in this exact five minute period of time is not how you’re going to feel any other time in your life and that things are constantly in motion.
That’s another really big piece of kind of this practice of healing that I want to talk about is having our bodies be in motion. And I mean that our energetic bodies, our spiritual bodies, on our physical bodies, be in motion, I think that is so important, not staying stagnant, always finding what can I do to move slightly moving slightly doesn’t mean physically, I mean, if it means resting for a certain amount of time, and then getting at it again, that could mean that if it means you know that if you eat certain types of foods, at restaurants, and you feel sick or bloated after and you stop going to those restaurants, it means finding a restaurant that works for you.
It means whatever you need to do to again, where’s that 10% limit? And how can you push yourself towards it without pushing yourself way out of that safety zone, you want to stay and hug and be able to come back to the safety zone and really just, again, find what are those things that I know are legitimately beneficial for me, but I’m too afraid to do them right now. And again, it doesn’t mean go jump out of a plane, if you’re afraid of flying. It means start in a car ride and go to blocks.
Why elimination diets may hurt instead of help
Every single time you do something that you once loved that your body now views as a fear, you are retraining your nervous system to understand that these things that you love, are safe for you. This is why I get really nervous around people with elimination diets when they’re already feeling chronic illness because I don’t want to introduce new things of unsafety for my clients. And my goal is always to include as much as we can as possible not to create new negative pathways in our brain, fear based symptoms. And to always bring people back to a place of safety.
Oftentimes, elimination diets don’t introduce new safety, they can help with reduction of symptoms in a very short term way. But that’s always my concern. It’s also really important in any chronic illness journey to be evaluating which foods are working for me which supplements are working for me, but not putting all of the stake on those foods or supplements to make or break your health. It really has to come down to the actions you’re taking on a daily basis from a lifestyle perspective, the way that you’re feeling your outlook on everything, it’s not one food or one supplement is not a root cause.
The reason you’re having symptoms overall that are long standing is because there is a couple of different systems interacting with each other within your body to let you know that you either are sick or going to be sick. And this brings me to another piece of our conversation, which is the anticipation of illness, which I see of course all the time in my chronic illness clients as well.
I would say most of my clients suffer from some sort of chronic condition or chronic behavior pattern or thinking pattern. When we anticipate that we are not going to be safe in events, it is the same thing as being unsafe and events. Our brain does not distinguish between believed, fear and actual fear. So if we believe that we are going to be unsafe going somewhere, our brain believes that that thing is really unsafe.
It’s important again, if you know, anytime I’m with my friends, I get a lot of symptoms because it’s too much talking. It’s too much stimulation for me. Whatever it is, we’re at a restaurant, I’m not being mindful my body, I think it’s really important to say to yourself, hey, I might have felt this way one time, but I don’t know if I’m going to feel this way this time. And maybe the benefit of seeing friends outweighs whatever symptoms are here are coming.
I also want you to really say to yourself, whatever symptoms come up, I probably already experienced them for years already. I’ll know what to do when they come up. And if you don’t know what to do when symptoms come up, the first thing I tell you to do is check in with yourself and just breathe into them and let them off as much as you can. Anytime a symptom comes up, you have the same formula.
How to promote safety in the body
Again, there are more structured programs for this because a lot of this is like you’re this, you’re getting this from a podcast, which is a very, very high level. There’s many different Olympic training programs, you can do Olympic system retraining programs you can do to learn how to retrain your unconscious. But we can influence our subconscious and conscious brains through breath work, we can influence it through doing anything that makes us feel safe. And remember, if you go to an event and you feel good, and you didn’t know you were going to feel good. Your brain just learned this event is safe.
A lot of chronic illness really comes down to this concept of safety, anticipation, hyper vigilance, and doing things that feel a little bit uncomfortable tolerating them and recovering from them. That’s what’s so important. What I would also have you do is start to kind of write a list of what things feel unsafe, what things feel really safe. To just again, I always use this word inventory, just inventory where you’re at right now. It’s funny, a lot of the symptoms we experienced, like we now know that pain even is something that’s experienced, not only, again, in its physical form, but it is an emotional response, as well.
The mindset shift that will set you on a different path
What I’m saying in this episode is, again, you may not have the power to control or change every symptom, but you do have the power to change your reactions to them. That might not come again in an instant. But ultimately, it is something that absolutely can be retrained, it’s absolutely something that can change. And the tiniest little breath work and the tiniest little mindset shift can set you down a completely different path, anticipate that you are going to heal, I have full faith that you are so beyond powerful beyond any measure you can understand.
I have so much faith that even just listening to yourself even just anticipating health, picturing yourself healthy can influence how you feel influenced the pathway that your body goes down. Because remember, our body perceives safety as much as it experiences safety. So if we can perceive safety and create a perception of safety, that in and of itself can lead us down a different path.
So when again, when it comes to these social events, or comes to doing things, think about what feels unsafe and think about what the benefits of the actual activity are, not only to like your physical self, but to returning home to your body. So much of chronic illness comes down to feeling like our bodies are betraying us and feeling like we live in bodies we don’t understand and that they become our identity.
We can have a tendency to become the chronic illnesses we have. And this is one of my biggest issues with kind of the western model is that we slap diagnoses on people and those diagnoses are supposed to be lifelong. And they’re just on your chart forever.
You are not anxiety. You are not Hi, I have anxiety in my chart, I am anxious person. It’s a symptom and experience that you’re having, especially with those conditions that are clusters of symptoms, right like IBS or anxiety, even something like PCOS pots. Again, these are clusters of different symptoms you’re experiencing. While they are diagnostic, from a Western standpoint, from a modern medicine standpoint, and we need diagnoses, it’s actually very helpful for us to categorize what people are going through so we can prescribe treatment plans for precision medicine, it makes total sense.
You are not your chronic illness
But we need to de-identify being chronically ill, we need that to not be who we are. So I’m a human who needs to go to sleep early. And I’ve talked about this in other episodes, but I go to sleep by like eight or 9pm. And if I don’t, I’m going to be up a really long time I kind of get that I’m at Second Wind kind of person where if I am not asleep by that time, I’m gonna probably be up the entire night. It’s just my circadian rhythm, my cortisol pattern that changes over time, by the way, that’s right now it’s really early right now.
It’s like 830, but it changes over time. I know this about myself. So if I want to go to a birthday party or something for a friend and I want to be there and they’re you know, normal 30 year old people who are out late, I’m just going to know that I’m not going to sleep at night and I’m not going to get scared when I can’t sleep that night. I’m just going to say what, this is probably going to happen. I’m not sleeping tonight. Okay? I’m not changing the fact that my body’s probably going to stay awake. I’m changing my reaction to that fact. And that changes my experience of going out.
Because instead of saying no I’m a person who has to be home by this time, I’m not going to sleep, I say, alright, well, I guess I’m not going to sleep. If you can commit today, to me in your brain right now to yourself and to anyone around you to the universe, that you are committed to healing, and you will fake it till you make it, I will get better, I commit to getting better, I promise I will get better, you will notice changes if you can make that commitment. And you can keep sticking to listening to your body, reacting with peace, when possible with your body.
Changing this idea that you will never heal that you will never get better and nothing’s ever going to work for me. No practitioner is gonna work for me, I can’t do anything myself. I’m hopeless. There’s nothing can happen. If we can shift that just into I don’t know how I’m getting there. But I’m getting there. Right now. Things are gonna change for you, Justin that. It sounds silly. It sounds manifest it it sounds hyper spiritual. But if we can say that, I’m telling you, your brain is listening to you and your brain just learned what path we’re going down.
Now your brain can rest easier knowing oh, we’re safe and doesn’t need to send those fear signals. And those safety signals can start coming out. If we can stop saying, I’m a chronically ill person, I’m this person who can’t and start saying I’m whatever your name is. I’m Michelle, I’m whoever you are, that’s who I am. Things are going to start changing. This is a really interesting conversation.
Weight loss vs. Chronic illness
When it comes to weight loss. I don’t consider quote unquote, obesity, a chronic illness, I consider it a chronic symptom for some people weight gain. But when I lost weight a long time ago, a lot of what confused me and my body was how I was going to be perceived differently when I healed. And I know with weight loss, specifically, there was a lot of fears, because it makes you quite vulnerable, right? Like it makes people notice you more the act of weight loss itself. A shifting body is a body that people notice, right. So if you’re losing weight, people are paying more attention to you. Because they don’t want to know what the secret to weight loss is, or whatever that is, to me.
It’s just something noticeable on a physical plane. But I think that I for myself, I was really concerned about what it would feel like to be myself without the weight I wanted to I was nervous to know how I would interact differently. With the world. Knowing that would I still be I really had this question. I mean, I was young when I lost weight, but I was like, Am I still gonna be funny? Like, am I still gonna be Michelle Shapiro? Am I still gonna be you know, the way that people feel about me? Is that going to be the same?
Actionable steps to get you through the healing process
I think that happens with chronic illness too. Like, how scary would it be? If you could like live freely from symptoms, like that’s so different. And in a lot of ways, our chronic illness protects us from a lot of uncomfortable social things, a lot of uncomfortable boundary setting that we don’t want to do. And with chronic illness, especially what ends up happening over time is that people feel, again, these identity attachments with it, and then also feel a lot of exhaustion and decision fatigue, should I do this? Should I not do this? Is this going to be okay, can I eat this food? What can I do?
Those thoughts are so rampant in our head all the time. I think that another kind of recommendation I have around people who are struggling chronic illness is to just limit decisions as much as you can. So if something costs a little more, and you’re able to do it like and you want to get a meal delivery service that just feel safe instead of cooking for yourself, great. If there’s any way you can read and that’s again, that’s a huge luxury and privilege. So I don’t want to say that’s accessible for everyone because absolutely not but anything we can do to limit the amount of intense decisions we have to make is so helpful.
In my practice, a big thing that myself and Nicki are on my amazing staff dietitian do is unlike if you tell someone to take a supplement Nicki, you need to tell them exactly what time to take it. If I give my client a recommendation, I now give a schedule with every single one of my clients. And I say here’s what we’re doing from start of the day to the end. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give ourselves is just limiting the amount of decisions we have to make especially because by the time you are experiencing chronic symptoms, you are constantly problem solving. You are constantly not only trying to fix a problem, but you’re trying to find out the root of the problem.
How to reduce decision fatigue
An easy way to reduce decision fatigue is to inventory where you are and ask yourself, Okay, where am I going and what honestly because we actually know this do I need to get there and just make things as easy as pie possible for yourself. There’s no shortcut I don’t love. There’s no hack. I don’t love anything you need to do to make yourself feel better. That’s not harmful to you at the same time to make things easier for yourself is a win. Understand that if your brain is exhausted too, if you’re experiencing symptoms, again that the symptoms exhaustion is not going to kill you. Right?
Bloating, not going to kill you. Feels like it, hate it, don’t want it for yourself, I totally understand, but it is not ultimately going to kill you. It just feels bad. When those symptoms come up again, the first thing I want you to do is just name them. Oh, I noticed I feel this way. You can also assign a color to them. I like to do that with my clients. So like if your gut is feeling like, icky, I’m like, What color does it feel? It feels red. Let’s not do anything that’s too spicy or hot right now it’s feeling red. How do I get rid of that redness? What do I do for that? Maybe I can massage it? Oh, no, it’s too tender.
Could I walk around and kind of disperse it a little? Maybe that’ll help? Could I drink some cold water? Maybe that’ll help. Inventory, your health. Inventory, your lifestyle, understand not only what you’re doing, but what you’re feeling. without reacting. This is the most important piece of the whole episode. Get data without reacting great. This is what my weight is hate that. Got it? No reaction. Okay, every single time when I stand up, my heart rate jumps up to you know, again, the key in the case of pots, my heart jumps up to 130. Okay, great. That’s what’s happening right now, when you’re doing anything for chronic illness, I want you not to focus on getting to the outcome, I want you to dream of outcome, I want you to feel what it’s going to feel like when you’re there because you’re gonna go there.
But I want you to focus much more. That’s a feeling perspective. From a logic perspective, I want you to just focus on the actions you’re taking, not the outcomes, we can attach to the outcomes, because then if we don’t hit it, we get upset, we can acknowledge when we’re feeling better, we can say oh, man, I just socialized for so long. And I actually didn’t feel like crap i in this restaurant, I actually didn’t feel bad at all, I felt really good after we should celebrate those moments. That’s essential.
Because you’re telling your nervous system again, oh, my God, we just did this. And it was okay, I love it. And those things become better and better. Again, if there’s something like you can’t, if you have if you need to wear glasses or something, let’s say you have a chronic vision condition, right, you need to wear glasses. What I’m not saying is all this is going to heal the chronic vision issue. But what I am saying is, it can alleviate the discomfort of experiencing it, and the reaction we have to experiencing it. And we have to celebrate those wins.
But we can only be responsible for the actions we take, we can’t be responsible for the outcomes. And if you notice, after a long period of time of being hopeful of slowly titrating the things that make you feel good, slowly becoming safer in your environment, slowly introducing safety in every single way. If we keep doing that, and we notice things aren’t getting so much better, I would be surprised if they didn’t give some way better, honestly, then we can start to say okay, I at least feel better enough to explore new ways to heal.
By the time clients come to me, they’re so exhausted from healing, they’re so exhausted from trying to heal. And a lot of that does come down to that nervous system piece. A lot of that comes down to the lifestyle stuff. But if you’re at that point, again, we have to know when it’s time to fight like hell. And we have to know when it’s time to surrender, those can happen at the same time actually, we need to know when it’s time to accept symptoms. And then when we built up enough strength and resilience and reserve, when it’s time to get back in the game and fight.
It’s really important for you to know you’re the only person who can discern that. And you truly know, you truly know the answer to that whether it’s your time or not. Another piece of this conversation I want to have is feeling the experience of unfairness when it comes to chronic conditions feeling the experience of why is this happening to me. And again, any thoughts that we have are not always true, or helpful. We have a lot of neurological firings, things like 20,000 thoughts or something throughout the day.
When we feel like we’re putting too much weight on what our illness has taken from us or what our anxiety has taken from us what our any symptom is taking from us. We We lose sight, of course of our blessings, and we lose sight of the positive things in our lives. But what I don’t really want anyone to do when they’re experiencing these symptoms is to say, this feels really unfair. And it feels really horrible. And I can’t believe this is happening to me. But I have a nice parents, so they have a nice partner. No, that’s dismissing how you’re feeling.
What I will tell you is that people who can not compare what they’re doing to others, and people who can just focus on again, what actions can I take? Or what can I tolerate? What actions can I take? Or what discomfort Can I tolerate? Again, that’s going to be a lot more helpful for you than thinking, this is unfair, it’s okay to sometimes have a pity party, and I’m the last person to ever judge anyone for feeling that way. My question is, how productive is that activity for you? And what can we do in that moment?
So I would really say if you’re getting going kind of in the path of that mindset is not to say, oh, but everything else is great. And I know a lot of our family members do this, too. And they’ll say like, well, you’re so focused on this, but you’re so lucky in this way. That’s dismissive to a lot of us. So what I would say instead is say, Okay, I noticed this is unfair. And I noticed I feel this way about it become a conscious observer to what’s going on data, just gathering data about it, as opposed to instantly reacting to it. That reaction that’s happening, by the way, is pretty instant. But it is also we do have the ability to intervene and change it.
The main takeaway I want you to run with from this episode is that there is no place you’re in that is exactly permanent. Because our mindset can always change to our nervous systems always evolving and changing. And what I really want you to do is know the infinite power, you have to change the course of your health. Today, it doesn’t come from a fancy supplement bottle, it doesn’t come from anything more than belief and action. And to start off with again, I would have you inventory, what’s going on in my body, what’s going on in my health.
I would have you then ask yourself, what is my dream when it comes to all of this, I don’t care if the dreams are unrealistic or not dream it up, Dream crazy, wild, beautiful dreams, and then say what is it really going to take for me to take myself 10% further into safety 10% less of a reaction when I’m doing this. And when the symptoms come up. They are just data. They’re just information. Thank you, you’re amazing, brilliant body for communicating that with you. And understand again, you are the boss, you are in power.
While there are amazingly helpful supplements and tools and things we can do, the most powerful thing we can do to heal is know ourselves, and just get to know what our body’s asking of us. And a lot of times anxiety, a lot of times chronic illness is also again, this feeling of abandonment of self or our bodies are betraying us. But when you get on the same team as your body, insanely amazing things can happen. And I truly mean that I have had times in my life.
I’m not I’m not like an abundantly, ridiculously positive person. You know, again, like I come from a family of people who have extensive intergenerational trauma, good, funny, brilliant, beautiful people. But we are not the type of people who are bubbly and positive we are. It’s just that’s not our that’s not the voice that I would see in my head. And I know we’ve talked about this on a couple episodes too. But getting to know not only the feeling you’re experiencing when you’re having symptoms, the color of what it is but the voice of what it is.
And for myself, again, if I had a voice coming in, in my head saying, Michelle, you should just be happy that you’re doing well. And don’t worry about you know, the panic attacks, it would feel really phony to me. So make sure that voice of belief is a voice that is yours, and is real for you, even if it’s the smallest voice that we don’t really understand or know, make sure it’s your real voice and get to know those fearful voices to get to know those symptom voices.
We need to start to separate the symptom from the reaction, separate it separate it don’t identify with a symptom, and then you can start to morph and change that reaction. My message to you is a true true message of hope that you are boundlessly powerful and I really promise you just inventorying your life just looking at what makes me feel safe. What makes me not feel safe. What are my symptoms with an unbiased conscious observation mindset will set you on a different path and I’m begging you to dream huge when it comes to chronic illness, dream bigger than you can possibly imagine because your nervous system is always listening.
And I am a person who experienced chronic illness my whole life. I’m a person who has worked with 1000 clients with chronic illness. And I will tell you that the most important piece of healing is going to come down to you knowing yourself and you owning that unbelievable power you have I know you can heal. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I don’t know what the outcome of that is. But I know that an every single day in every single way you can get a little tiny bit better and better. Cheers to Your healing let’s do this!