Have you ever tried to make a change in your life, but found it hard to sustain in the long-term?
Maybe it was to start exercising more often or to start eating healthier. Maybe it was to quit alcohol or coffee. Perhaps it was to quit smoking. Or maybe it was another lifestyle change you were trying to make in an effort to heal or to be healthier.
Whatever the form of change was, at some point you probably felt overwhelmed or exhausted from having to try so hard. The change that you once thought would make you happier instead made you feel miserable.
So eventually you quit trying to change.
It doesn’t happen for EVERYTHING. But you’ve got to admit, changing some things about ourselves can be a lot harder than we’d imagined – especially compared to other changes we’ve made in our lives that seemed to be much easier!
So what does change have to do with being ready for healing?
It has EVERYTHING to do with it.
Healing is Change
Healing always involves making changes in our lives. Because – let’s face it – if there was nothing that had to be changed, then we wouldn’t have developed our health problem in the first place.
And while healing often involves making dietary and lifestyle changes – foods to eat/avoid, getting more sleep, managing stress, etc – there’s a much deeper change that has to take place in order for true healing to happen.
This change is our mindset. Our subconscious has to change.
And the lack of a change in mindset is the reason why our attempts at making other changes in our lives don’t always last. We haven’t re-programmed our body on a subconscious level to the change we seek.
In order for true healing to occur, you have to be READY for it.
You have to be ready for change on a deeper level.
Because not only is it easier to stay motivated to make the necessary changes in your life, but it also turns the change into a long-term habit. And then it just becomes an effortless part of your everyday life.
Putting it Into Perspective
So before we talk about how to change your mindset to be ready to heal, let’s put this information into perspective with an example.
A woman named Angela wants to heal her leaky gut. She knows what foods she needs to add to her diet, but she also knows that there are certain foods that she needs to cut out. One of which is foods with refined sugar – cookies, cakes, pies, etc. She loves these foods and admittedly has them almost everyday as a snack or dessert. But she knows that they’re not good for her health and that she needs to cut out refined sugar from her diet if she wants to heal from the chronic symptoms caused by leaky gut.
So she joins a 7-day program that helps her cut out all sources of refined sugar from her diet and shows her how to replace it with whole, natural foods. Angela is so excited to start the program! It’s exactly the jumpstart she needed to cut out the sugary foods from her diet. She’s feeling motivated and can’t wait to see the results from this program.
Day 1 starts and Angela is ready to roll! She makes sure to stay on top of the recommendations of the diet. Fridge is full of fresh fruit and vegetables. No food containing refined sugar is to be found in the house. She’s making green smoothies, eating more vegetables and fruit, and has started drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Life’s good!
Day 2-3: Things are going well. Angela is feeling good and can already feel the difference in her body. Someone at the office offers a donut and she declines without hesitation. Angela feels pretty darn proud of herself for not giving into temptation!
Day 4-5: Things are alright. Cravings for a warm muffin or cookie are strong. But Angela reminds herself that she just has to have a strong enough willpower and she’ll get through it. The daily smoothies are also getting to be a bit annoying but as long as she sticks to it, Angela is sure that she’ll get used to it eventually.
Day 6: The day doesn’t start off as well as it should. Angela sleeps through their alarm and wakes up in a panic – she’s late for work! Rushing out through the door, she doesn’t get a chance to eat breakfast. And she also forgets to pack a snack. At least she grabbed her healthy lunch.
The morning at work is busy – Angela still hasn’t eaten anything. By the time noon rolls around, she’s famished. She quickly eats her grilled chicken salad because she’s so hungry. Not as satisfying as she thought it would be. She contemplates the idea of buying a muffin from the cafeteria to satisfy her hunger. Her internal dialogue goes a little something like:
No, I shouldn’t – I’m sticking to this diet! No refined sugar in my life anymore.
But you worked so hard this morning! AND all week. You deserve it!
No, I don’t think that’s a good idea…
But what are you going to eat all afternoon? There’s no way you’ll survive til dinner time. Just have a muffin. You’ve been good all week, just ONE muffin won’t hurt.
Hmmm. That is a good point. Fine! I’ll have the muffin! I do deserve it after all!
Day 7: Waking up feeling a little guilty from eating that muffin the day before, Angela reconciles to not give into sweet cravings anymore! As she’s getting ready for work, a thought pops into her head about how tedious the daily smoothies are. And the kale has wilted – that’s annoying too. It’s okay, she tells herself. I just have to push through and I’ll get used to this new way of eating.
Later in the day, there’s an office party for someone’s birthday. And cake is being served. A similar internal battle happens as the day before, and eventually Angela gives into the temptation. Whatever, I had a muffin yesterday, there’s no harm in a small piece of cake today.
After work, Angela goes to the grocery store. Her favourite apple pie is on sale! This time, there’s not much of a battle in the internal dialogue. I broke the rules today already, so there’s definitely no harm in having some pie too. AND it’s on sale. AND it’s the last day of the 7-day program anyways. I deserve a break. I’ll start fresh on Monday.
Are We Stuck to Our Habits Forever?
This type of situation can happen with ANYTHING. We try to change, put some good effort in, but eventually we fall back into our usual patterns and habits.
But why does this happen? Was it because our “willpower” wasn’t strong enough?
Nope, that’s not it. As you saw in the example above, Angela was quite determined to stick to her new way of eating, even on day 7 after a small setback the day before.
When we fall back into our old habits – the ones we’re trying to change – it’s because we were never really READY for that change in the first place.
Our subconscious self was still stuck in the old habit. A habit is a “memorized” behaviour – something that we don’t usually consciously think about. So when our conscious mind decides to change a certain habit and we take action to reach that goal, our subconscious starts to “rebel” against us because we’re no longer doing the habit that it’s used to.
The “rebellion” typically shows up as that self-talk that tries to convince us to give into whatever temptation is presented in front of us. As we saw in the example, this was seen as the convincing voice telling Angela to go for the muffin or the pie.
So does this mean that we’re forever bound to whatever habits are memorized in the subconscious? Not at all!
How to Be Ready for Change and Healing
As Dr. Joe Dispenza explains in his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, in order to create new habits we have to consciously change the subconscious mind. In other words, we have to “unmemorize” the old habit and replace it with the new habit.
Once the subconscious is “reprogrammed”, it no longer cares to rebel against your conscious efforts to creating a new habit. In fact, your conscious and subconscious are on the same team now. And this makes sticking to your new behaviours A LOT easier.
I’m certainly not saying that there won’t be any setbacks on your journey to creating new, healthier changes in your life. Those are a normal part of the journey and are great learning experiences. But what I AM saying is that these setbacks will be fewer and far between, and you’ll also find it a lot easier to bounce back and continue on with your journey and the changes you want to make in your life.
Ready to BE ready for healing? Let’s get to it!
The best way to go through this exercise is in a quiet, relaxing place. You can even meditate on these ideas, but journaling works as well. I know that there may be multiple things you feel you need to change as you go through your healing journey, so just work at it one habit at a time. Repeat this process daily for the ONE change you want to make. Repeat it for at least 2-3 weeks or until you feel that you’re new habit has really become an effortless part of your life.
1. Recognize the habit you want to change and be aware of the emotions that are associated with it.
It’s important to know WHAT exactly you want to change, but you also need to be aware of the emotions this habit brings out in you. Going with our previous example, eating a sugary food might bring out emotions such as unworthiness, guilt, insecurity, regret, fear, etc.
Action step: Write down the habit you want to change. Next, write down all of the emotions associated with that habit. Own up to these emotions and acknowledge that this is what happens whenever you’re doing the habitual behaviour that you’re aiming to change.
2. Release those emotions.
And now, release the emotions associated with that habit. By acknowledging that you have those emotions in the first place, you can now release them. These emotions are no longer serving you and you’re letting them go.
Action step: Write down, or say to yourself: “I release myself from feeling [emotions]. I am no longer bound to [habitual behaviour].”
3. Set the intention for the change you want to bring about.
Now think about what change you’re seeking. What’s the new habit you want to “memorize” into your subconscious? In the case of our example, it would be to choose healthier food options and be able to say no to refined sugar.
Action step: Write down the new habit you want to create in your life. Be as specific as possible and only focus on one habit at a time.
4. Imagine your life as if the change has already happened and feel the emotions that are associated with this change.
Now imagine yourself already there. Don’t think about the “logistics” of it all. Just pretend as though you’re going through your everyday life and you’re already acting and feeling what it would be like to be “different” – to have that new habit already in place.
In our example, this might be to imagine yourself cooking meals with whole, natural foods. Or maybe it’s a situation where you’re reaching for a healthy snack without even wanting a sugar-laden alternative. Or it might be to imagine yourself already healed, without any symptoms and feeling healthy and well.
You don’t have to think about how you got there (for example, thinking about the grocery list you have to make to stay on top of a healthy diet). Just BE there in that moment already.
More importantly though, FEEL what it’s like to be there. Feel the emotions you might feel if you were already that person that doesn’t eat refined sugar. How would you feel? Healthy, joyful, proud, loving, symptom-free, etc.
Embody these emotions to make this imaginary situation feel as real as possible. This is where the new habit gets memorized and integrated into your subconscious.
Action step: For this step it’s important to do whatever will make this exercise as real as possible. If you prefer closing your eyes and get lost in your imagination – go for it! If you prefer to write things down as a first-person narrative (in present tense!), then do that. Just remember to embody the emotions that are associated with that new behaviour that you are seeking. This programs your subconscious to be ready for healing and good health.
5.Be grateful for the change you’ve imagined in yourself, as if it has already happened.
Lastly, we have to be grateful for the change, even though it hasn’t technically happened yet. Instead of being grateful AFTER something has already happened, be grateful for the potential for change because gratitude is what magnetizes it to you. When you can emotionally feel what it’s like to be there, you’re already halfway there.
Action step: As you’re embodying the emotions that come with your imagined state of change, let the feeling of gratitude flow through you. You can also write down or say to yourself “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.
It’s time to surrender the old beliefs, emotions, and thought-patterns that are holding you back from lasting change and replace them with a different mindset. A mind and body that’s ready for change and ready to heal.