Something I’ve learned over the last decade or more is that thoughts are very powerful things. They can affect our mood, our behavior and can take control of our entire being. It’s for this reason we have to be extremely careful and mindful of the thoughts we allow to take up residency in our mind.
Just like the food we eat having an impact on our body’s health, the thoughts we have play a role on our mental health. We must strive to have kind and positive thoughts to maintain a healthy psyche. If we constantly consume junk food, we can expect our bodies to suffer, so too our mental well-being is harmed if we feed it negative and ugly thoughts.
I speak of this with firsthand knowledge, many years ago I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. For those not familiar, Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract. At times it can cause life-threatening complications. While the causes of Crohn’s disease are unknown, environmental, immune and bacterial factors are some of the factors linked to those who suffer from it. Like other chronic illnesses, Crohn’s disease cannot be cured.
Because specialists and experts are unsure what causes Crohn’s, I can only speak from own personal experience. My bouts with Crohn’s have always been bought on when I am dealing with extremely stressful situations. In the 15 or more years since I was diagnosed, I have had less than five major flare ups, each time I can attribute it to an event that was causing my high levels of stress and anxiety.
Thankfully, my diagnosis was quick and I was put on medication which has kept me in remission for the most part. The severity of my illness is mild compared to others. Still, I have had to adapt and change my life to avoid and minimize flare ups.
Most people would describe me as a pretty chill, relaxed, go with the flow, even keel kind of guy. That said, I am someone that typically internalizes my problems. It’s often said, we are our own worst enemies. I completely agree with this. In the past I would create false narratives in my mind. Something I’m sure a lot of people are guilty of. These are the (unhealthy) stories we tell ourselves, made up scenarios in our mind. I found myself falling into the trap of creating narratives for certain situations I was going through; rather than facing the problem head on and dealing with it. I would always create the worst case possible and as a result I would stress myself out.
It took me a few flare ups to realize that doing this had a direct correlation to my Crohn’s reappearing. Once I understood that I was the one causing my illness, I knew that I too was responsible for my recovery. I soon learned that if I silenced the noise, stopped the nonsense thoughts and quit feeding my mind with negativity, that I would feel lighter and happier. As a result, my mind and body were in harmony and in balance.
Whenever I would feel myself falling into the trap of creating false and negative narratives, I drowned it out with a positive mantra:
I am happy
I am healthy
I am successful
I am loved
I would repeat that over and over in my head and focus on box breathing. I began starting and finishing each day with a few minutes box breathing and repeating my positive mantra.
Soon I began replacing those negative narratives with healthier more positive thoughts and visualizing a happier more fulfilling life. I’m now a firm believer in the power of intention. The energy we send out to the Universe is what we will receive in return. Visualize the life you want. Like attracts like.
Earlier this year, I was chatting with a friend and he commented how much he admired my positive and cheerful disposition; the biggest compliment I could receive. My response to him was, it takes a lot of hard work to get to the state of mind, but anyone can do it. And for me, it’s a necessity. If my mind is off balance, I know it will trigger a Crohn’s attack.
Something a lot of wellness specialists say is that we are responsible for the energy we radiate. The energy we bring to a room is ours and ours alone. With that said, there are always going to be forces and people that will test and challenge us throughout the course of a day. I will be the first to admit I’m not calm, cool and collected 100% of the time. But I’m now at a point in my life when I can recognize when I’m off balance and that I need to take time to breathe and recalibrate — to shift my energy.
To this day I continue to practice my box breathing and positive mantra to keep a clear mind and positive psyche. I’ve found it to be such a simple and effective tool. I’d love to hear what techniques others have found help them shit out the negative noise and focus on healthier thoughts.