In an effort to heal and feel better with autoimmune disease or chronic illness, we're often trying a variety of different techniques, tools and healing approaches.
We might make dietary changes, swap out toxic products for less-toxic alternatives, add daily exercise to our routine or attempt to reduce the stress in our lives.
And yet, before we make any of these changes, there are a few questions we should be asking ourselves first. These are the questions that make sure whatever we're doing (whatever dietary or lifestyle changes we're making or want to make) has the best chance of actually working.
After all, that's why we implement these shifts, right? We want whatever diet or stress management plan to work and, by that we mean, we want it to help us feel better.
In other words, most of us aren't going Paleo or practicing daily meditation solely because we think doing so will be super duper fun. Sure, it'd be great to fall in love with the practice eventually, but we're usually motivated upfront more so by the desire to feel better and the hope that this change is what will get us there.
That's why these questions are really helpful to ask before you actually make any dietary or lifestyle tweaks... especially if you want to feel better and heal from autoimmune disease!
What does it mean to "be healthy"? What does it mean "to heal"? What does it mean to "feel better"? Does healing include remission? If so, when will you know you're in remission and have what you want? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? 5? Does healing include no medication? Or flare ups?
Healthy, healing, remission, feeling good -- these are terms that mean something different to all of us, so it can be really helpful to get clear for ourselves before we start taking action.
An even better question to ask yourself as you dig into what you want could be: Why do I want to feel better? Why do I want to heal? Why is this important to me?
Is it because you want the energy to keep up with your kids? Do you have big work dreams that you want to chase without restrictions on your time or energy? Do you crave physically and mentally and emotionally feeling really good when you wake up in the morning? If so, what exactly does that look like to you? Does feeling good include feeling free around food? Does it include being without any physical pain?
Take a few moments to get as clear as you can about what you want health-wise in your life. Where are you trying to go? What's the destination you're after? What does it feel and look like?
Once you know where you want to go, then it's time to ask yourself: What do I believe is required to get to that place?
In other words, what conditions have you placed on your health? What expectations and assumptions have you developed around what it would take to heal? What thoughts run through your brain around what you'd have to do to feel as good as you want?
Do you have to adopt a particular diet?
Do you have to drastically reduce the stress in your life?
If so, what particular stressors might have to go?
Do you think you'd have to quit your job? Or end a difficult relationship?
Would you have to find time to meditate for 60 minutes a day?
All in all, what do you think and believe you would have to do on a daily, weekly and yearly basis to get where you want to go?
If you're not sure, think first about the stories you've read or conversations you've had around autoimmune disease and healing. Who are you learning from? What blogs are you consuming? What books are you reading? How have others you know healed their bodies?
This one is kind of a 2 for 1. Meaning, you want to question whether or not these requirements are actually true... for you... and you want to ask yourself whether or not you'd like to be operating from a different set of "healing rules".
Because while you may have read healing success stories from others who've adopted a particular diet or incorporated more meditation into their lives... a tool working for someone else doesn't mean it's the ONLY tool that can then also work for you.
Are all of the things on your list of requirements actually required? Better yet, do you want all of the things on your list to be required?
For example, I thought I would have to adopt the autoimmune protocol to get off medication and heal my autoimmune disease. I tried for a long while to make this work in a way that also left me feeling free around food (because that was part of what healthy and healing meant for me) until I thought that maybe this strict of a diet wasn't a *requirement* after all. That it COULD work, and it DOES work, but that it didn't HAVE to be the only thing that could work... for me.
Is your list true?
Are these requirements the ONLY way you can get where you want to go?
Or, could something else be true for you?
Is there something else you want to be true for you and your body?
If you are, great! It should be relatively simple to move forward because you know what actions you need to take to get where you want to go AND you're okay with taking those actions.
You see, that's why these Qs are so helpful. They make sure that we're doing is in alignment with what we think we should be doing. Meaning, these questions tell us what to do to feel better... and also tell us what to change if we're (1) not doing those things or (2) not feeling better. We know to either shift the actions we're taking (to find a way to WANT to do what you think is required to do) or shift your beliefs around what's required in the first place.
Let me put it this way.
If you want to feel better, then you're going to get the biggest bang for your buck by doing what you think is required to get there. If you want to feel better, and you're not doing those things, then you either need to change: (1) what you want, (2) what you're doing or (3) what you believe you need to do.
And the only way to know what to change is to get really clear and aware on what you're thinking / believing / assuming / expecting (and doing) in the first place!
These questions can also be really helpful because they give us the opportunity to see if something we're trying to do (and think we have to do) is causing more harm than good. Meaning, do you believe you have to exercise to feel better, and believe that exercise only "counts" when you're working hard, but find intense exercise to cause a flare? Or, do you believe you have to make dietary changes to heal, but find yourself on that diet with only more symptoms than when you started?
So often, when we're working really hard and yet not feeling the way we want, we question the tool we're using (or not using). Or, we question ourselves and our motivation, willpower and discipline. Why not also question our beliefs? Where did we decide what's required to have health and heal? Have we questioned whether or not those beliefs are true for our lives and our bodies in particular?
If you want an example of how it might look moving through these questions, I'm sharing how I use them to uncover what's holding me back, shift my own list of requirements (to the tools I enjoy most), and more effectively optimize my body for health. Plus, I'm sharing the 4th surprising Q to ask yourself if you want to speed up your results. (Aka, if you want to feel better... faster!) Watch this video with Question #4 and personal answer examples from me by signing up for a membership to The Wellness Boulevard here!