I don’t know about your family, but this has been a tough year for us so far when it comes to health. Both Tosh and I rarely get sick, but so far this year we’ve had a hard time shaking a flu bug that gave us bad coughs plus some stomach cramps and vomiting. As they say, it’s going around.
We know a lot about the immune system when it comes to fighting colds and flu, but did you know scientists believe our brains have an immune defense system that fights our attempts to make positive changes in our lives?
According to Harvard researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, our mental immune system fights to maintain our status quo. Like everything else that holds us back, the push for consistent behavior is a key part of our evolution. Our daily routines keep us fed, sheltered and safe.
However, even when patients suffer a heart attack and are told that if they don’t quit smoking or lose weight, they’re going to die, they struggle to make those changes. That’s the mental immune system at its worst. No matter how much we want to change, our subconscious minds are committed to staying the same.
According to an article in Fast Company, one way the mental immune system works to maintain our status quo is by using our inner critic. We’ve all experienced it, right? Like when you try to lose weight, but that negative inner voice tells you that it’s never going to work, because fat genes run in your family. Or that you hate exercise and love tacos too much.
The Fast Company article also said that sometimes our inner critic tricks us with praise. How many times have you sabotaged your weight loss efforts by rewarding yourself with one bite of chocolate cake … which turns into an entire piece of cake … and how can you say no to a glass of champagne? Or two, for that matter?
The next day, you have to eat greasy food to fight your hangover and experience overwhelming sugar cravings. There’s no way you feel like exercising, either. Before you know it, you’ve completely fallen off the wagon.
So how do you rewire your mental immune system? By silencing your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones that support the change you are trying to accomplish.
I went through this process a couple of years ago and it has made life so much easier. I’m not perfect – I still fall off the exercise wagon every other month or so – but once you reprogram your subconscious mind, it’s much easier to dust yourself off and try again.
I created a mini-course that includes the methods I used to silence my inner critic and shared it with the members of my autism mom support group, The Cabana. When you join, you get access to my entire library of monthly courses. Find out more about The Cabana by clicking here.