You Are Not Your Illiness


There are ailments of the body: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and so on. There are also ailments of the mind: depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s. Regardless of what ails you, there is one fact that holds true – always – you are not your illness.

This can be a mindset that is difficult to uphold, especially when at times your condition consumes much of your energy, your resources, and even your happiness. You’ll have good days when you feel clear-headed, strong, and determined. And then you’ll have days when you would rather stay in bed. Both are completely normal and happen for everyone – with or without an illness. It’s the condition of being human.

What’s important to understand in this dynamic, especially on the tough days, is that we have the ability and the power to create a shift in how we think about ourselves and the conditions we face.

Whether we are talking inside our heads or out loud, our brain believes everything we tell it – good or bad. In fact, we have a big hand in “wiring” how and why our brain thinks and operates the way it does! The key to shifting your mindset is being aware of the words you use when you speak about yourself and the condition. Here are some prime, and quite common examples:

  • I am a Type 1 Diabetic
  • I have cancer
  • My fibromyalgia is flaring up
  • I’m bipolar
  • I am schizophrenic

Speaking about conditions in this way takes the power away from us, and hands it right over to the condition or illness, giving it the front row seat and allowing it to take the lead in our day and our life. What if we switched the narrative slightly and took ownership of our health, and jumped in the driver’s seat by choosing the words that put us there. Taking the above examples and re-working them can sound something like this:

  • I am managing Type 1 Diabetes; I am living with Type 1 Diabetes
  • I am battling cancer; I am fighting cancer
  • I am stronger than my fibromyalgia; I’m going to put fibromyalgia in its place
  • I have bipolar disorder, I am not bipolar
  • I have schizophrenia and I’m learning how to live with it

Can you hear the difference? Words have amazing power! According to, many brain regions that process language also control the insides of your body, including major organs and systems. Owning your health and well-being isn’t just done through exercise and diet, it is also done by using words that calm us and reduce stress hormones, and by using words that create feelings of strength, empowerment, health and well-being. That means through our language, we can rewire how our brain and our body works. Imagine if just one statement at a time, we started to focus on the words we use…when we look in the mirror, when we make a mistake, and when we refer to an illness. Switching the narrative one word at a time can have a positive, lasting impact on our well-being.

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