You may not know this about me, but I have a chronic autoimmune disease. I’ve been living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for over 13 years now. I’ve learned a lot over the years about how to best support my body as it works hard to function optimally. I’m continually tuning into which interventions and supports (both medical and holistic) actually bring it into its best balance. If you’ve ever experienced “dis-ease” in your body, you know how challenging it can be trying to navigate the difficulties that come with not feeling your best (or downright crummy) and/or experiencing physical limitations.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosed health condition, we all know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable in our bodies. Nagging fatigue, an unhappy tummy, embarrassing skin breakouts, persistent sluggishness, stubborn extra weight, annoying brain fog or difficult mood swings–these are some of the most common complaints we hear from the women who attend our Be Luminary Retreats.
Your Mindset Matters
One of the most important things I’ve learned–through my own observation and from studying the mind-body connection in research–is that the mindset we bring to the challenges we face makes a big difference in the outcomes we experience. How we think about our health directly influences the day to day decisions we make (which can have a profound impact on our ability to heal) and also, amazingly, has the power to influence the way our body systems function and communicate.
The most powerful mindset we can bring to our body is a hopeful one. The definition of hope is a feeling of desire and expectation for a certain thing to happen. This is a powerful stance to take. In order to create and sustain vibrant health you have to be willing to desire and expect that something can be different. That positive change can happen.
Hope is incredibly vulnerable. If we allow ourselves to actually lean into our desire for something to change, we make ourselves vulnerable to disappointment. So we often try to protect ourselves from the pain of disappointment by moving away from a hopeful stance. We become complacent, avoidant and resigned. This automatically limits our ability to change or to experience optimal health. If we want to make strides toward increased vitality and ease in our bodies, we have to choose to view our healing journey through a hopeful lens.
Here are 3 simple yet effective ways you can cultivate hope to keep moving toward a connected and empowered sense of health in your body.
- Adopt an “anything is possible” attitude. A mindset is something you can freely choose. You may not be able to choose what is happening to or inside of your body, but you can choose your perspective. The “anything is possible” mentality means choosing to hopefully believe, regardless of what has happened in the past or is happening right now, that your body wants to move toward optimal health. And that it’s worth continuing to invest your time and energy in the process of caring for your body while learning more about how you can support it. This is not a “Pollyanna” approach, or a rose colored glasses naiveté. But rather a choice to accompany yourself on your healing journey in an optimistic, compassionate and creative way.
- Be courageous. Remember, hope is vulnerable. It can be really scary to acknowledge your deep desire for healing and wellness. The word “courage” means to speak the truth from your whole heart. Being hopeful requires that we bring to the table an honest, heart-filled and ongoing conversation with our ourselves and our bodies. When it comes to our health, nothing is permanent or certain. Being courageous doesn’t mean that we’re unafraid. It means that in the midst of our fears and uncertainties, we bravely make loving moves toward our own well being. We stay open and brighten up to the possibility of positive change, even when faced with setbacks and disappointments.
- Stay curious. Just as if you were an explorer observing a new landscape, choose to see everything as “figure-out-able.” Every challenge, curveball, or unexpected experience has a pathway through it into something new. When we stay curious about our body’s needs or responses rather than critical, we make room for new discoveries, new possibilities and new insights. The path toward figuring out what your body is struggling with, what actually helps it to feel well, and to getting the results you desire can sometimes be a long one. And it’s typically not that straightforward. It can take a lot of experimenting and consistent practice. So keep your curiosity alive by asking yourself these types of questions: “What might my body be communicating to me right now? What’s possible that I might not be considering? What could I try again or do differently? How can I get more creative with this? Who do I need to bring into my support network for more guidance? Who can I confide in to help me maintain a hopeful mindset?”
Will you join me in staying optimistic and hopeful for your health? I don’t know how long my body will struggle with symptoms associated with RA, but I do know that for however long it takes, I will stay loyal to my body’s needs for support, compassion, listening and a courageous desire for healing.
With love Luminaries,