Embrace a Growth Mindset to Beat Autoimmune

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Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.

— Henry Ford

From my perch as a Functional Medicine health coach, author of the bestselling book Beat Autoimmune, and autoimmune reversal and prevention advocate, I am witness to a lot of suffering, as well as a lot of hope.

The hope comes from people who are healing and returning to vibrant health. And one thing I’ve observed in people who are thriving is that they have a growth mindset.

Specifically, they have a can-do attitude, and if they don’t know how to do something they say they’ll figure it out. They embrace the power of the word “yet,” as in, I don’t know how, yet.

Many of us may set goals and have aspirations, but how many of us actually reach those goals and aspirations? I want to help stack the deck in your favor.

One of the first and most empowering things you can do is embrace a growth mindset will give you the added horsepower needed to succeed, especially when it comes to a big goal, like reversing an autoimmune condition.

We have the information, the support, and a growing number of success stories of people who have transcended their symptoms and diagnoses. So, why are so many people still suffering? It could be a lack of knowledge, tight finances, and little time — all valid and real concerns. But, if we’re really honest, it could be that a fixed mindset might be the biggest reason of all.

What is a fixed mindset?

It includes rigid thinking, limiting beliefs, a scarcity mentality, lack of willpower, all-or-nothing thinking, and a negative or fatalistic outlook. Fixed mindset statements include:

I can’t do it.

Things will always be this way.

It’s too hard.

I don’t have the willpower. 

I can’t afford it.

I’m too old (or too young).

I don’t have time.

I’ll try.

You can feel your shoulders sag in just reading these defeatist statements. Caution, though: words have tremendous power, especially when coupled with strong emotions. We literally have the power within us to create our reality, and we do it all the time, consciously or unconsciously. Negative words and beliefs can set up a downward spiral, attracting more negativity and despair, which is a self-reinforcing vicious cycle.

What’s a growth mindset?

It includes positive mental attitude, even when the going gets tough, a can-do mentality, realistic thinking, an open mind, and optimistic outlook. Growth mindset statements include:

I can do it.

This is only a minor setback. I’ll get back on track.

I may not know the answer, but I’ll find it.

I’m on my way!

I can handle this.

I’ll figure out how to afford it.

What can I learn from this?

Who do you think will be more successful at any endeavor? My bet is on the growth-minded person. Positive thoughts, especially coupled with strong emotions, create a positive upward spiral, leading to more positive outcomes and beliefs.

An Important Distinction

But, healing requires more than just a rah-rah, can-do attitude. It takes both having a goal plus a willingness to explore, to dig deeper and to be willing to experiment, to fail, get up, and try again.

For example, just setting a goal or making a resolution will only get you part way. Like declaring you’re going to stop eating sugar.

Who do you think will be more successful in giving up sugar, person A or person B?

Person A: I am going to stop eating sugar!

Person B: I’m going to stop eating sugar by seeking and finding a satisfactory substitute.

Person A sounds determined, but the reality is, willpower may only get her part way. Without a willingness to find reasonable alternatives, she might not get past a few weeks of brute force effort. Person A might go cold turkey, forcing herself to give up sugary snacks and desserts. Soon, her willpower may run out, and she may be back on the sugar train.

Person B sounds both determined and curious. She realizes that the only way she will achieve her goal is by engaging in a proactive effort to find a reasonable solution, a satisfactory substitute. Person B might do some research on sugar substitutes first, learning which don’t spike blood sugar or create downstream problems. She might search for, find and try a few brands of organic stevia before landing on one she really likes. By this time next year, Person B may still be sugar free.

So what can you do help you make the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset?

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    Become aware of your inner voice

    Challenge negative, fatalistic thinking.

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    Know your why

    Having a greater sense of purpose will be a positive emotional attractor.

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    Reframe challenges

    Viewing challenges as opportunities will keep you engaged and fuel your journey.

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    Set goals with actionable steps

    Goals will remain elusive unless you take positive actions toward them.

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    Seek solutions

    Sometimes the first attempt won’t work. What else can you explore?

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    Cultivate grit

    The difference between those who go on to reach their goals and those who do not may be determination.

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    Use the word ``yet``

    Growth minded individuals may say, I haven’t healed — yet. “Yet” implies that they are already on their way.

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    Celebrate small victories

    Acknowledge small steps in the right direction to reward progress — no matter how small.

Are you serious about wanting to beat an autoimmune condition? Your  mindset may be your biggest ally or your greatest saboteur. The great news is you can shift your mindset from fixed to growth and move in the direction of your goals and dreams. It will take practice, but I know you can do it. Do you?

Take good care!

p.s. Have you downloaded our Our Manifesto for Healing Autoimmune Conditions? I have mine on the fridge in a plastic sleeve as a beautiful reminder to tend to all mind-body-spirit elements.

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