Your Beliefs Dictate Your Behavior, and Your Behavior Dictates Your Health
by Aimee Raupp
What do you believe about your health and your body’s capacity for healing? Perhaps you believe that you can and will feel better, or maybe you believe there is no hope for you. Maybe you take your health for what it is, accepting it rather than challenging it or questioning your beliefs. Maybe you have never even been asked, or have never asked yourself, about your health beliefs. We all have beliefs about our health whether we know it or not, and we are making choices every day based upon those beliefs. […] I am going to help you get to the core of what you believe about your health, so that you can make lasting changes. I am here to help you unveil your health beliefs, because until you do, this book—in fact, any book—can’t offer you the healing you are longing for.
First off, let’s discuss what a belief is. Famed 19th-century Russian author and playwright Anton Chekhov said, “Man is what he believes.” So, simply stated, a belief is a thought you judge to be true. Beliefs are the mental architecture of how you move through the world; they form your guiding principles and judgments about how the world works, how you work, your place in the world, and how you interact with the world. The beliefs, judgments, and thoughts you believe to be true can propel you forward or hold you back. Let’s break down the three main ways your beliefs do this.
Your underlying and mostly unconscious beliefs dictate your daily thoughts and actions. How? Perhaps as a child you witnessed your mom become ill and your mother’s illness led directly to your belief that all mothers are ill, or all women are sick, and as you grew into womanhood you believed that that must be your lot in life, so you don’t bother to honor your health by sleeping enough or exercising because you don’t believe it will make any difference. And you befriend other sick women, because that is your model of what women are. Or, if you supported your best friend as she beat breast cancer, you believe breast cancer is beatable, and you make sure to eat lots of green vegetables, take antioxidant supplements, see your doctors regularly for checkups, are first in line at breast cancer walks, and proudly share your friend’s story with anyone you can. Or you were raised by someone who overate when they were stressed out, and the connection was made for you then that overeating is the way you should handle stress, so now you do the same thing; you even found a romantic partner who does the same thing and you handle stress that way together. Or you watched your father go to work every day to a job he hated and then come home exhausted and demoralized, complaining about how working hard gets you nowhere in life, so as an adult you have now fallen into that same pattern: tired, stressed, and bitter about your work life.
I bet one of these examples resonated with you. It’s exactly how what you believe about your health impacts your health, your behaviors around your health, how you interact in your world, and your ability to change your health, heal, and thrive.
If you’re like most people, you’re not consciously aware of your repetitive thoughts and beliefs. Most of you don’t even realize how often you say your health beliefs and personal philosophies out loud in casual settings (think social gatherings, dinner parties, girls’ nights, break rooms at work, or mommy groups). Have you heard yourself saying anything like, “I’m always sick,” “I’m going to get diabetes, everyone in my family gets it,” “Cancer runs in my family; it’s inevitable,” “My dad gave me his gene for heart attacks,” “I have my mother’s knees; I’ll need a replacement soon.” Whatever it is, I am sure you have some type of ingrained beliefs about your health. I’m sure you think them and outwardly share them with others, a lot. Know that they are shifting your life and your health, because these beliefs are affecting your brain, your body, and your daily behaviors.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Body Belief by Aimee Raupp. It can be found online at hayhouse.com or amazon.com.