Episode 11: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

The ability to change our mind is our God-given right. But happens when you change your mind, or more specifically, your mindset? The results can be miraculous, and this miracle of nature is in each and every one of us.

It is called neuroplasticity, which simply means that our brain, body, and nervous system can change during the course of our entire lifetime. We are capable of interrupting habits and patterns which may not be serving us well, and causing pain or dysfunction. We can actually change the way we move, think, feel, and sense. Which sounds like a no-brainer (pun intended).

However, as recently as twenty-five years ago, conventional wisdom was that this neuroplasticity disappeared around the age of fourteen. Which is really crazy when you think about it. Because there are many modalities that have been around for decades and even centuries that have accessed this neuroplasticity to help millions of people improve their physical, mental, and emotional level of function. A few examples are Feldenkrais, Pilates, yoga, martial arts, acupuncture, massage, and meditation. The list goes on and on.

Download this episode to discover how you can tap into this brain power simply by changing your mind, and how to apply it to every single aspect of your life including health, fitness, finances, relationships, business, and more. With the right mindset, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

The Power of Words, and Permanent Damage

I love working with people, and I love helping them recover from injuries and chronic pain. I recently worked with a young woman who was experiencing persistent neck pain from an auto accident. Along with her neck pain, she also had frequent headaches, numbness in her hands and arms, decreased cervical range of motion, difficulty keeping up with her job, and her home life was suffering.

However, after just a few weeks of gentle therapeutic movement, her neck pain dramatically decreased, her headaches were gone, the numbness in her hands and arms were a distant memory, her cervical range of motion improved, her energy increased, and she was able to return to work full-time. Even better, she got a spark in her eye, a spring in her step, and her remarkable wit and sense of humor returned.

We both decided that she no longer needed to see me, and she was off to enjoy the life she loved before her accident. Therefore, I was stunned when she came back a few weeks later with a full-blown return of all her symptoms. She was in tears, extremely depressed and in severe pain. I couldn’t understand what went wrong, until she told me the story.

She had returned to her physician for a follow-up assessment, which included cervical x-rays. Her physician looked at the films, showed them to her, and informedher that she may have permanent damage” as a result of the accident. He told her that she may never be the same as she was prior to the incident, and may be looking at a life of pain and dysfunction. Yikes!

I reminded her that she had been pain-free for weeks, had regained her strength, range of motion and had returned to all of her activities. She burst into tears and wailed, “But that was before I knew I had “permanent damage!” Uh-oh.

I pointed out that her doctor said that she may have permanent damage; he never said that she did have permanent damage. Through her tears she explained that she saw the x-rays herself and they looked “pretty bad”. Surprised, I asked her if she had ever seen an x-ray before. No, she never had, but she assured me that they looked awful. Sheesh!

Language has power. An unfortunate choice of words can transform someone who is healing into someone who has no hope of recovering. Words can heal or harm, encourage or destroy, empower or devastate. They can even cause permanent damage. So choose them carefully, and think before you speak.

A different kind of family Christmas….

Everyone has their Christmas traditions and time they spend with friends and family. Our Christmas tradition is simple; my husband and I spend a quiet Christmas together. But when my mother-in-law took a turn for the worst and my husband left town on the 23rd, my plans for Christmas suddenly and dramatically changed. No quiet Christmas Eve dinner at home. No Christmas Day champagne brunch at the Brown Palace. My Christmas just got thrown a curve ball.

I knew I would be bombarded with invitations if my friends knew I would be alone on Christmas. However, I really didn’t want to be pulled into someone else’s dysfunctional family Christmas. Nor did I want to go to a movie and go out for Chinese food. I figured sitting at home watching old movies sounded like my best choice. Then I remembered that there was a special edition Christmas morning ballet class scheduled this year. When I first heard about it, I was astonished that anyone would consider taking a ballet class on Christmas Day. Suddenly it sounded like a brilliant idea.

I woke up to a freezing cold morning with a few inches of snow on the ground. You just have to be in a good mood on a morning like that. It was glorious! I listened to Christmas music and sang along as I maneuvered the slippery roads to the dance studio. When I got there, Christmas music was playing in the studio. The front desk was transformed into a beautiful and festive buffet table laden with food for after class. Dancers were bubbling with greetings and laughter, as well as a spirit of joy and camaraderie.

Sometimes things don’t always go the way we plan. We can either fight against the change or go with the flow and find another option. I didn’t get to spend my traditional family Christmas with my husband. But, I did get to spend it with my ballet family. Like all families, we certainly have our level of dysfunction. I sure am grateful for them; they made a difficult Christmas a whole lot easier. And that is what family is about.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP