The obvious explanation for Bethany going from cold, to flu, to cold was that she worked in a classroom full of germs. But, her fellow teachers weren’t getting sick like she was. Bethany seemed to be sick with something new every month. When changing her diet and taking the usual nutritional supplements didn’t help, we knew there had to be something else going on. Usually, I don’t like to say that it was all in her head but in this case, I suspected there was a mind body connection.
My first clue came when Bethany mentioned how meticulous she was about washing her hands and how bad she felt about getting sick and missing work. That’s when I knew I needed to dig deeper into her mindset.
It turned out that she had some deep-seated shame around being sick that went all the way back to her childhood. Her parents had, over time, taught her that getting sick should be avoided at all costs and that it was very bad.
How could this result in her physically getting sick? Did this mean that she wasn’t actually sick she only thought she was sick?
The answer is actually a scientifically proven physiological response to shame. It’s something I first learned about when I encountered the research of Dr. Mario Martinez.
Dr. Mario (as I like to call him) is the bestselling author of the Mind Body Code: How to Change the Beliefs that Limit Your Health, Longevity, and Success. He has also created multiple learning series on the connection between mind, body, and self. He is a world-renowned expert on biocognition and I am honored to call him a mentor.
Because of my work with Dr. Mario, I knew that this fear of illness that Bethany’s parents had instilled could be the missing clue in her health mystery.
Biocognitive Science is an Integrative Science
Dr. Mario starts by explaining that the connection between our mind and our physiology is proven scientifically. His work also takes our culture into consideration. This includes looking at our collective beliefs of anything important to a group like religion, our concept of wellness, ethics, and aesthetics to name a few.
Cultural Understanding Comes from Cultural Editors
We learn about the good and bad of our culture from those in a position of authority. In the beginning, this is likely to be a parent but doctors, teachers, pastors can all be a part of that too. These editors teach us shame as a way to survive in our culture but at some point, the need to survive ends and we can hang on to the shame unnecessarily.
Shame Causes Inflammation
Research has proven that shame can cause a physiological reaction; inflammation. We know that inflammation is associated with many diseases including those affecting the immune system. When we hang on to non-survival shame, we can compromise our health.
There is an Antidote to Shame
Dr. Mario’s research shows that there is a way to reverse feelings of shame, even deep-seated, spontaneous shame responses. In this episode, we discuss the method of first identifying the trigger of shame, the feelings associated with shame, and the mental trick for reversing or countering the physiological response to shame.
Belief in Genetic Predisposition Can be a Trigger
Another way cultural conditioning affects our health is when we believe that any genetic propensity to an illness will lead to us realizing that illness. This belief has a physiological effect on the body. Our mind is sending signals to enhance the genetic expression of that illness.
Set Personal Boundaries to Avoid Triggers
Shame can be triggered by many things including partners, parents, or you boss. It’s important to create boundaries for these potential shame triggers so that you have less exposure to feelings of shame. You can also recondition your thinking around genetic disposition beliefs.
When Bethany and I started to really dissect where her shame around getting sick came from we realized that being around kids in a classroom (which can be a bit of a petri dish or germs) was a major trigger. Because of my past work with Dr. Mario (and my personal experience in healing shame responses) Bethany was able to counteract her physiological response to the fear of illness and shame of missing work.
The solution to this mystery wasn’t found in a pill or a supplement. We had to change the messages being shared between the mind and body. Bethany is doing much better now. She still gets a cold from time to time, but she no longer feels any shame about it.
Eliminating Health Mysteries
For Bethany, we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain control of her health. Could shame or cultural cues be the unknown clue for you or someone in your life?
Spend some time considering any shame you might feel during your day. Take some time to follow the techniques shared in this episode. Notice how shame feels and where it’s located. Use the antidote revealed by Dr. Mario. You might be surprised at the physiological response to some of this mental work.
Thanks to my guest Dr. Mario Martinez. You can connect with him on his website and discover more about the learning series we discussed. Here is how you can join his private Facebook group. And, here are some links to his books:
The MindBody Self: How Longevity Is Culturally Learned and the Causes of Health Are Inherited
Here are the supplements I mentioned:
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