Minding Our Thoughts to Help Heal Our Bodies

by Dr. Susan Tanner, MD

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since our last Thanksgiving newsletter!  As soon as we enter the holiday season, it seems as if the days just go racing forward at a fevered pace to the year’s end.  For many, the “thankfulness” mindset of Thanksgiving feels difficult to muster; gratitude in the midst of personal health crises, financial burdens, and other challenges may not come so easily. Now more than ever, mindfulness and mindset color our experience. Thus, rather than the typical Thanksgiving post, I thought a discussion of mindset and what we now know about its intimate connection to our health and healing may be helpful and appropriate.

For those of you who are suffering, I understand the difficulties and especially the added stress that comes with this time of year. I have been there and have had to muscle through despite not feeling well or like myself; I do not want to come across as glib in this discussion or without an understanding of just how hard some of this can be.  However, I also feel that if I cannot offer hope and some alternate paths for reframing some of this, then I have not done you any service.  Please know that all of us behind the articles and education on Sinusitis Wellness do care. Our intention with all we do is to support you in every way possible along your healing journey.

Baggage, Life Experiences, Relationships, and Health

One thing we know and must accept is that we all have baggage, some good, some bad, some helpful, some not.  These life incidents often shape our thinking and our connections with others, be it family relationships, professional connections, and healing paths.  That said, our thoughts are powerful, and the words that we say to ourselves can promote healing or create further injury.  Our thoughts and self-talk are often influenced by family, friends, co-workers, and health care providers.  Sometimes the outside influences that shape self-talk are not to our highest and best benefit; that is where self-reliance and self-belief become important.  Trusting that our bodies CAN heal and that we are doing all of the right things to aid in that healing helps us to stay the course in a treatment plan that deep down we know is the best thing for us, even when outside influences and voices have a differing or negative opinion. Trusting that we know what is best for our bodies also helps to shield us from the opinions and the sabotaging actions of others.

The confusing world of mold- and environmentally triggered illness can be especially rife with naysayers and people with loud and unsolicited opinions. I have seen mold divide and damage many a relationship and make many a patient abandon the proper course of treatment from the pressure of other family members who think that the symptoms are all in the sufferer’s head. The confusion and negativity can act as poison to a person’s recovery. Thus, my advice is to choose those and the information that supports you and your efforts to heal. The journey is difficult enough without the additional psychological and emotional hurdles. And, as you heal, your resilience will be the physical example of the fact that your choices and decisions have been best for you and your body.

Minding Our Thoughts

Thoughts are things!  This was such an important concept for me to understand both as a patient and a doctor. Some years back, Candace Pert, Ph.D. wrote a book entitled, The Molecules of Emotion.  In her book, she discusses how thought patterns and processes create biochemistry that will do everything to maintain a status quo, especially including highly stimulatory thoughts.  Certainly, negative emotions have a very strong and repetitive pattern that can keep the brain in a “loop” from which it is hard to break out.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, MD, demonstrates how trauma, be it from physical or emotional injury, can actually re-wire the brain. An important area that can become de-railed is that of trust.  Both trust in oneself and trust in the health care provider may be shaky at best, and the result may become non-compliance in a treatment plan.  Timeless Healing by Herbert Benson is another book discussing this mind and body connection.  There are others as well.  Books by Caroline Myss have been favorites of mine, particularly Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can. Many of these authors offer audio versions, workbooks, online seminars, and more. I highly recommend looking into one or more of the books mentioned, especially if you are struggling with feeling isolated during this time of year and “stuck” in your illness or healing journey.

Speaking Up and Asking Questions

If you find that none of these books strike quite the right chord with you on your journey, there is much to be gained by understanding that there are influences that may not be helpful for you.  In other words, be as open to what is not working as you are to what is. Reserve the right to say, “No.” Regardless of how knowledgeable a health practitioner, an indoor environmental professional, or a remediator is, if what they are advising is not working for you, you can and should say so. You should be ready and willing to say, “This is not working for me.” Any professional worth your time and money will listen to you and adjust and, more importantly, help you adjust when needed. If they do not, you have gained some important information, and you have used your voice. Both the act of speaking up and the experience of feeling listened to are powerful and valuable additions to your health. I also think that the ability to maintain a sense of curiosity about how and why things work the way that they do is so very important. Asking questions is always a good idea. Curiosity can sustain you when you are tired of fighting the fight, of living life differently than you would have envisioned, and evoke even more empathy for those in similar situations.

Respecting the Journey

Nothing about any of this is easy.  There may not be an end in sight with your efforts, but the journey can be made easier by adjusting the mindset and developing more of that self-trust that gives an inner strength that is most satisfying! To that end, keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most powerful, simple, and helpful things I can think of to begin the process.  It is said that Nelson Mandela kept a gratitude journal while imprisoned for over 30 years in horrific conditions in South Africa. He said that journaling is what kept him sane and his heart not full of bitterness at the unjustness of his situation.  Simply writing a few statements before bed of what we are grateful for can help with some of that rewiring process. I keep a gratitude journal myself and find that the words just pour out onto the pages now; I can’t write fast enough!

We wish you all the very best during this Thanksgiving time.  We recognize your challenges. We hear you and are grateful for your comments, questions, and feedback. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your healing journey.

“I want you to know that the world is


And fragile is not the same as


That’s how I know you are resilient


I want you to know you are not alone, and some things are never meant to


Done by yourself.”

From “How I Know” by poet and writer Tim Jones whose work I have come to love.

Happy Thanksgiving! As always, we welcome your questions and comments. Please write to us below or email us at newsletter@sinusitiswellness.com.