It has often been said that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Some people believe this to be literally true, as studies show that the words we think and speak, affect our cells, for better or worse. Negative or lie-based thoughts are made up of energetic frequencies that, when prolonged and constant, can foster illness, while positive thoughts are made up of higher frequencies that produce health.
Cultivating a positive mindset in Lyme disease can, at times, seem next to impossible, as inflammation and toxins from pathogens and other environmental factors profoundly affect the brain’s chemistry and with that, the emotions and thoughts.
When I was really sick with Lyme, I used to get angry whenever well-meaning people would encourage me to “think more positive”, even though I believed that was important for healing. But I was mad because they didn’t seem to understand how difficult that was to do, in a brain riddled with pathogens and inflammation, and in a body that was daily deeply exhausted and in pain. Indeed, Lyme frequently causes depression and anxiety, and when you feel horrible, the last thing you may feel like you can do is “be more positive.”
What I’ve come to believe since then is that it is still valuable and important for all of us to do what we can to cultivate hope, joy, peace and positivity in our lives, as the mind is the “control center” for the rest of the body, and what we believe, think and say has a profound impact upon our healing. It can be difficult to heal if the majority of our beliefs, thoughts and words tend toward the negative, and we battle hopelessness, defeat, discouragement and depression on a daily basis.
For me, overcoming negativity has meant using tools to heal my brain and gut chemistry as well as cognitive and spiritual tools to help me reframe my thoughts and choose better ones. In an upcoming book that I’m publishing next year entitled, Freedom from Depression: In Spirit, Soul and Body I share some major spiritual, emotional and physical causes of depression and negative thinking, especially in those with chronic neurological disease, and how to overcome that, on all levels.
Frequently, it seems that counselors, doctors and other healthcare professionals will focus on only one aspect of healing depression or negative thinking, but in people with chronic illness, a negative mindset isn’t just the result of the circumstances of illness, or a troubled past, or trauma, or separation from God, or even a messed-up biochemistry; but rather, these and/or other factors.
Consequently, I believe that victory comes when we can address every root cause of a negative mindset, because simply taking others’ advice to “think more positive” denies the complex factors that can lead to a negative, disease-fostering mindset in Lyme.
In my own healing journey, I have found all of the following to be highly beneficial for helping me to replace harmful, lie-based thinking with more positive thoughts, and consequently, to speak more life-giving, healing words over my body in my day to day life. Perhaps you will find them useful, too:
1) First, since early on in my battle with Lyme, I have always dedicated an hour or two to prayer and meditation every morning. Mornings have typically been the most difficult time of day for me, when I feel at my worst and negative thoughts rush at me like wild horses. I’ve found that the only way to stop those thoughts is to quiet my mind and ask God to speak His thoughts to me. This helps me to embrace His perspective on my life, rather than the one that sometimes results from my troubled past and messed-up chemistry. When I get His perspective on my life, as well as on the people in my life, it better enables me to continue throughout the day in a positive mindset, because I’ve found that God’s perspective is always more positive and hopeful than mine.
You may find that doing this, or simply meditating on or speaking some positive affirmations for 10-15 minutes in the morning, as you imagine what your future will look like without Lyme, will be helpful for putting you into a more positive frame of mind for the rest of the day.
2) Journaling any positive words of encouragement that have been spoken to you over the years, concerning your life, healing and destiny. Or, consider ten things that you’re grateful for daily, and journal those, too. Or, write down any positive thoughts that God or someone else has shared with your in your quiet time of prayer or meditation. You may find that writing about these, or other positive journaling topics, will help to steer your mind in a more positive direction.
3) Create two or three positive healing statements to speak over yourself throughout the day, such as, “I am being healed more and more each day.” Set an alarm on your phone multiple times a day to remind yourself to speak those statements aloud, as I’ve found that most of us are good at forgetting to do these types of exercises. I prefer to use healing verses from the Bible, as I believe that there is divine, supernatural power in words from the Bible, but you can speak out any type of affirmations that resonate powerfully for you. Be purposeful and intentional when you do this; don’t rush through it. Instead, allow the words to resonate deeply and powerfully within your being.
4) Consider the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS). This is a great healing system that was created by Annie Hopper, PhD, who discovered certain cognitive behavioral exercises that healed her from multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) and mold sensitivity. DNRS retrains the limbic system and with that, the immune system, to stop responding in an exaggerated manner to environmental stimuli. It also helps to shut down the programmed “fight or flight” or conditioned fear-based thoughts that so many of us with chronic illness battle. DNRS involves reprogramming the mind through cognitive and behavioral exercises that foster healing thoughts, and doing those throughout the day. It is a significant investment of time and effort upfront, but well worth it for many people, especially those perhaps with a strong history of trauma.
5) Heal your neural chemistry in your brain and gut with nutrition, an anti-inflammatory diet, and supplements that support cognition and mood. This last category is supremely important for those with neurological disease, and encompasses many parts. I have found The Plant Paradox diet, created by Steven Gundry, MD, to be highly anti-inflammatory, as are ketogenic diets. Lowering inflammation through diet can powerfully influence mood and the ability to think the right thoughts, so I recommend these diets for people with Lyme disease.
Additionally, amino acids such as L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan, as well as methylators such as SAMe and Vitamin B-12 (methyl or adenosyl), can help to create happiness-promoting neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. I’ve even found choline, which is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and cognition, to help me choose life-giving thoughts.
Hormones also powerfully influence mood and thought, so asking your doctor to do a hormone test and then balancing your hormones with the appropriate nutrients and even bio-identical hormones can be a powerful mind-body healing tool.
Finally, some other nutrients that have been found to be strongly involved in mood and cognition include Vitamin D, omega-3 essential fatty acids and acetyl-L-carnitine. In a nutshell, omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially those from fish, reduce mood-destroying inflammation; acetyl-L-carnitine assists with energy production and mitochondrial function, both of which have been linked to a positive mood; and Vitamin D helps with immune function and a multitude of other processes linked to mood and brain health.
These nutrients provide just a cursory summary of some of what’s out there to aid you in healing your neural chemistry, and with that, your mood and thoughts.
In summary, know that when it comes to neurological disease, positive thinking and the right mindset have a powerful impact upon your healing, but these things don’t just come through willpower; rather, they come through healing your chemistry as well as by re-programming your mind, through cognitive exercises, counseling and other mind-body-spirit tools. By focusing on the mind, you can become better equipped to beat Borrelia and whatever else may ail you.
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 11 wellness books, including the recently released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. (October, 2016) and Beyond a Glass of Milk and a Hot Bath: Advanced Sleep Solutions for People with Chronic Insomnia. (March, 2017). She is also a medical copywriter and an editor at ProHealth.com, as well as Editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine, and she collaborates with some of the world's best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease and insomnia, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. To learn more about her work, see: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.