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Self-Love Alleviates IBS

Updated: Feb 16


What is self-love? Is it an esoteric topic for philosophical debates among psychologists? Well, if you asked me ten years ago while working full-time as a physician assistant, stressed with two young kids, I would have said yes! Who has time to consider the idea of self-love”?  What does self-love even mean? Is it treating yourself to a nice message or buying nice clothes? I barely had time to brush my teeth, let alone contemplate my thoughts.

Now, as a health coach, life has slowed down, and I have the time to consider this idea. No, self-love is not an esoteric topic isolated to a psychology classroom. Self-love is the unwavering belief in your self-worth, which drives healthy daily habits like eating a whole-food diet, exercising, and having good sleep hygiene. 

Limiting Beliefs

Unfortunately, we are not born with self-love. The opposite is true. From infancy through childhood, children absorb everything around them, whether positive, negative, true, or false. Absorbing all this unfiltered information creates limiting beliefs housed in the subconscious mind. The origin of these limiting beliefs stems from someone who intentionally or unintentionally criticized you, making you feel inadequate, leading to a limiting belief, like “I am not good enough,” “I am stupid,” or “I will never be loved.” 

I only became aware of my own limiting beliefs recently when I started working with a coach to help with a few health issues. Her practice examines a person’s belief system to see what might hold them back or make them sick. During one session, she asked if I had ever thought, “ I am not worthy.” I immediately started crying. At first, I didn’t understand why I was crying, but then I realized it had been a thought! These thoughts, feelings, or ideas are real. Most of us (myself included) walk around unaware (as I did) with these negative beliefs controlling our behavior. 

Self-hate or Self-Indifference (Opposite of self-love)

What would life look like for someone with “self-hate” or “self-indifference” (for lack of a better term for the opposite of self-love) who let the limiting beliefs drive their behavior? Someone who constantly criticizes themselves like, “I look terrible today!” or “I am such an idiot for making that mistake!”. They constantly apologize and say phrases like, “I’m so sorry I am such a pain” or “I am so sorry I am late!” Or someone who allows verbal abuse into their life by a coworker, family, or friend. 

I experienced verbal abuse from a friend recently, so extreme it left me stunned. I had never experienced this type of abuse before. I was helping a friend who was ill, and during my stay with him, he became verbally abusive. I couldn’t believe his behavior.  As a physician assistant, I have worked with many sick patients, and in those 15 years, I had never had anyone speak to me as this friend did. Generally, I give grace to people who are sick and irritable! Our tempers are often challenged during a time of illness. His behavior was beyond irritable; he was outright rude! Eventually (it took me longer than I would like to admit) I stood up to him and informed him that I would no longer tolerate his behavior. An act of self-love, standing up for yourself and telling verbally abusive people, “I don’t allow people to speak to me that way!” 

Nothing else matters in life if you don’t have self-love. Without it, you will always search for that significant other to provide praise to create your self-worth or constantly try to make people fall in love with you, giving someone else the job of making YOU happy. 

What does self-love look like?

What does self-love look like? It’s someone who stands up to abuse by others, who gives themself grace if they make a mistake and views it as a learning lesson, who finally stops smoking after 10 years of 2 packs per day, who cut their alcohol intake to a minimum (or stops altogether), who leaves work on time to sit down for dinner with their family because it’s important to them, who takes five minutes in the morning to meditate, or who says no to a social engagement because it means yes to spending more time with her kids on the weekend. Self-love comes in many forms. 

How do you eliminate the Limiting Beliefs and create self-love?

It is not as hard as it may seem, and it’s something everyone can do. Write out all of the negative beliefs swirling around in your head, for example, they might sound like this: “I’m not worthy, I’m not good enough, I’m stupid, or I’ll never find love.” Then, take each of those sentences and turn them into a positive: “I am worthy, I am good enough, I am a leader in my field and worthy of amazing success, I am worthy of an amazing lifelong, loving relationship with my partner.” Then, record yourself saying them and play them back each night as you fall asleep. The same brainwave activity is present as you fall asleep as it was from age 0-7 years old when you were not consciously aware (and it turns out it’s the same brainwave activity for hypnosis). Listening to the recording while falling asleep makes the subconscious mind effortlessly accept the new information. 

Eventually, it will become a new normal for your subconscious, you will feel a shift in your thinking and won’t need to fall asleep anymore. These thoughts will become who you are, driving positive behavior and self-love. 

What does self-love have to do with IBS?

Did you know your gut microbiome is listening to your thoughts? I know what you are saying, how is this possible? Well, the limiting beliefs you tell yourself daily that drive 90% of your daily habits are a form of internal stress. Stress is one of the major disruptors of the gut microbiome, causing dysbiosis, an overgrowth of bad bugs to good bugs. This is why you have a “gut feeling” or “butterflies” in your stomach. This is the nervous system in your small intestine making changes to your microbiome created by your thoughts. 

Limiting Beliefs Worsens IBS

One of the major causes of IBS is dysbiosis. Allowing your limiting beliefs to take hold of your subconscious and drive your daily habits will only exacerbate your IBS symptoms. Using the technique I mentioned above will eliminate your limiting beliefs, create self-love, and help you balance your microbiome, which, in turn, will help eliminate your IBS. 

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