It’s easy to become victim to the circumstances in our lives and feel a sense of helplessness. This is because when we’re born, albeit being cute and adorable, we’re dependent on everyone for everything. We forget that we are empowered spiritual beings having a human experience and instead come to believe we are limited beings that are flawed. I feel we need this to happen, like the universe’s ultimate ‘hide and seek’ game, so we can discover our innate powers to fulfill our mission and purpose, if we allow ourselves to see beyond the limitations. This usually takes a significant challenge that puts us in an ultimate crossroads of our lives. Just like all the typical hero and heroine stories we’ve read or movies we’ve seen. That’s why the Star Wars movie franchise is one of the most popular in history. Instead of believing this journey is only for the elite few, we need to realize we’re all on our own hero and heroine journey. Only then can we stop being the victim character who is self-sabotaging our own goals and successes.
I too was the victim of my story, especially when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at age twenty-two after graduating college. Instead of going out to conquer the world of Physical Therapy and help the patients I was going to be treating, I ended up being a patient in the medical realm of where I was working. The gastroenterologist who diagnosed my condition gave me the grim reality that Crohn’s was an incurable autoimmune disease of my digestive tract. Feeling helpless and never having been really ill before, I felt I had no choice but to trust the doctor’s knowledge until I hit a “no turning back” crossroads decision. It came several years into the treatment of my symptoms where instead of getting better, I was becoming more ill.
There was a new medication method being tried to help people in my situation: an immunosuppressant drug called 6-MP for short. Basically, it was a chemotherapy drug that would shut off my overactive and out of balance immune system. The doctor was obligated to tell me the dangers of the medication, including how I could catch a cold that could potentially turn into a deadly case of pneumonia, as I would have no defense mechanism to fight it off.
It was then I had an epiphany of thought: I was already on a death spiral weighing only ninety pounds, so I didn’t need any extra help in that direction. If my immune system was overactive, why wasn’t the goal to balance it out rather than shut it off? It occurred to me that it wasn’t any one thing that got me ill. It was a multitude of pieces in a puzzle that came together making this picture of illness, so the same had to be true of regaining my health. I thought how all I had to do was find the right pieces to regain my picture of health. Then it seemed doable.
To succeed I had to find the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pieces to put me back together again —just like the nursery rhyme character Humpty Dumpty. Initially, I found the physical pieces by going to see Dr. Robert Atkins, of the famous Atkins Diet. He had a Complimentary Medicine Center in NYC. The food strategies he taught me and the techniques he used to eliminate food allergies worked. However, as I started feeling better, I self-sabotaged myself by eating and ingesting the things that fed the yeast/candida in my body that were causing the inflammation in my digestive tract. Finally, after being on that up and down roller coaster so many times, I realized how I was self-sabotaging myself and needed to dig into my mind, emotions and spirit to find out why.
It’s the dis-ease in those areas that govern our thoughts, how we feel, and what we believe respectively that is often the cause of our lack of success in any area of our lives. Consciously, we desperately want to achieve our goals, just like I wanted to be healthy again, but our subconscious programs, if not erased and reprogrammed, will continue to keep us in our familiar comfort zone, even if that zone isn’t consciously comfortable.
I wanted nothing more than to feel healthy again, so I prayed to God how I didn’t want to be sick and in pain anymore. However, I was focused on illness and pain so I wasn’t allowing for a change to occur. This is one of my first success breakthrough strategies: focus on your result and what you want, not on want you don’t want. When I began praying to God by giving thanks for my health, then my pieces of health began to come together. Initially, this was difficult because I was experiencing so much pain and ill health. It took time to reap the reward of my new found thoughts and hopes of believing I could heal from this terrible disease.
When we start out a new technique, it’s akin to a dirt road that can be easily washed away — compared to the super highway of the underlying subconscious program that has been running automatically for many years. It takes time, patience and practice to create a new super highway. In this quick-fix-and-want-it-now culture we live in today, it’s even more difficult. Therefore, we need help to stay committed to focusing on what we want, which seems like a small, distant, slightly open window in the distant, compared to the big closed door of what we don’t want in front of our face.
This leads to the second thing I learned to keep me on track: It has to be a deep down ‘must’ for you to change and succeed, not just something that would be nice. Even though I thought it was a ‘must’ to get better, there were things holding me back until I came to the last downward turn on the roller coaster. It was when I weighed eighty-five pounds and was close to death. The pain of where I was, and the fears I had of possibly not surviving, finally outweighed the self-sabotage I was doing. Hopefully, you reach your ‘must’ before it becomes that drastic, but sometimes we must come to our rock bottom moment before we’re ready to fully commit to our goal or dream. This is because it’s always scary to move beyond what we know to what we don’t know.
We wonder about things like: “What if I fail?” or even “What if I succeed?” What I discovered on my journey is that I was hiding behind the disease as a way not to have to be perfect or be the bad cop by saying “no” to people. These subconscious auto pilot programs were overriding my conscious need to be healthy and out of pain. When I unearthed these patterns, I was able to empower myself to get beyond them and realize it was balance, the very thing I thought of in the beginning of my journey, and not perfection I sought. This allowed me to finally stop beating up the little Barbara in me.
This leads to my third strategy: Think of the hurt and scared little kid inside of yourself and how you want to treat her just like you would other little children. This helped me to stop beating myself up for not being perfect and realize that if I deviate off my path to wellness that I can just get myself back on course again and no longer punish myself for making mistakes. I started seeing things in a gray light, not just in the rigid black and white. Also, this helped me to love myself more unconditionally, just like a parent should.
The fourth strategy I learned along the way: Ask myself empowering questions rather than victimizing questions. Instead of asking myself, “Why can’t I be well?” I began asking, “How can I regain my health and wellness?” Ask yourself how you can succeed rather than why you keep failing. This is an extended version of the number one strategy of focusing on what you want to achieve. As I peeled off the self-sabotaging layers, I realized how I wasn’t feeling deserving of being healthy. It was like I was saying to myself, “Who am I to have everything in life I want?” I felt there has to be flaws so I can fit in with everyone and not stand out. We tend to put ourselves down unfortunately. Have you ever done that?
Also, being sick was a subconscious way for me to get attention. When we don’t get our needs met in a healthy way, we usually end up getting them met in unhealthy and dysfunctional ways. This is because we get taught while growing up by adults who didn’t get a manual on how to raise healthy, happy and joyful beings, and they have their own dysfunctions that get passed down to us. We interpret them to mean different things; some empower and serve us, but many disempower us and don’t serve us. We believe that there is nothing we can do about it until we come to the realization, usually by a challenge that forces us to, that we can change these habitual thoughts and programs. Then we have a much better chance to achieve the goals and successes in life that we want.
My fifth empowering strategy: Say affirmations daily, not only once, but several times a day of what it is we want to achieve. “I am” affirmations are the most powerful because they are associated with our identity and what we believe, feel and think about ourselves. Therefore, be very careful with what you say after, “I am….” Listen to your self-talk and begin to identify the disempowering and negative “I am’s” you say about yourself. I have a tendency to say “You’re so stupid” when I get frustrated. Now I catch myself and change it to “You are a smarty pants.” Humor always helps to lighten up and not be so serious with ourselves. Anytime you catch yourself beating yourself up, change it to an empowering one. Write them down so you remember to tell yourself repeatedly during the day. Despite being off medications for over fifteen years now, every morning I still continue to tell myself, “I am healthy!”
To summarize the five strategies I discussed:
Stay focused on what you want and on your goal(s) – write them down and look at them frequently – stop yourself when you start to dwell instead on where you are and what you don’t want.
Make sure the change or goal you seek is a ‘must’ — no turning back or staying where you are because it has become too painful and outweighs your fears.
When you start beating yourself up or self-sabotaging, remember the hurt and scared little kid in you to help you stop. Treat yourself with the same unconditional love and care you would your own or other children.
Ask yourself empowering questions that help you move towards your goal and success. To receive positive and helpful answers, you must ask positive and helpful-type questions.
Write down and repeat positive “I am” type affirmations that reflect you already achieving your goals and dreams of success.