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How Core Beliefs Shape Our Health

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

*Trigger Warning: Trauma*

Pt 1: What are core beliefs and how do they develop?

Throughout childhood development, we have unique experiences and relationships that contribute to the unconscious beliefs we grow to hold about ourselves and the world around us as adults.

These beliefs can develop through positive experiences, such as having a parent or guardian who is emotionally attuned (emotionally present and able to support the child's emotional regulation). Or through negative experiences, split into two distinct categories.

First - when bad things that happen, such as abuse or neglect.

Second - the good things that don't happen, such as lack of emotional attunement. For example, a parent who loves the child very much, but is very busy with work or suffers with mental health issues like depression, and so is less able to be emotionally available for the child.

Unconscious belief examples:
- I am not enough / I am not good enough
- I am unworthy / I don't deserve
- I am unloveable / No one cares about me
- I am bad / I do bad things
- I am damaged / I am broken

In our adult life, we can become aware of these unconscious beliefs by noticing the situations in which we get triggered. When you consider a weapon, how big of a part of a weapon is the trigger? Just a little part. So the bigger part, the part that we want to be curious about, is the ammunition and the explosive, which is on the inside. When we get triggered, we can choose to look inward at that and see what’s come up for us that has caused the trigger.

Compassionate Inquiry, one of the therapeutic approaches I use in my clinic, is a gentle process that can help to identify the explosive material that’s inside you. Now I hear you saying, why would you do this? It sounds scary! Well, through this practice we can gain a deeper understanding of what our core beliefs are and as a result, we can gain an understanding of how they may be impacting and shaping your health.

Pt 2: How beliefs shape your health

So how exactly do the core beliefs we hold help to shape our health? The answers lies in epigenetics.

Our genes are expressed by how we consciously perceive the world around us. To understand this we need to look at epigenetics, the study of how our environment and behaviours modify gene expression.

One of the prime determiners of gene expression is belief. In fact, Biologist Dr. Bruce Lipton believes that perception (our beliefs) trumps biology (what we inherit from our parents). Unlike genetic changes however, epigenetic changes are reversible, which means there is lots we can do to support our health! Let's specifically look at how beliefs may play a role in autoimmune disease.
Autoimmune disease and epigenetics

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks or mistakes healthy organs and tissue in the body. In other words, the immune system can no longer tell the difference between healthy tissue and harmful substances such as bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens. It seems as though the body no longer recognises itself, and the cells no longer recognise what is healthy.

Examples of autoimmune disease include:
- Endometriosis
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis
- Pernicious anemia
- Psoriasis
- Rheumatoid arthritis

Why does autoimmune disease develop?

There are many risk factors such as toxin exposure, infections, gut hyperpermeability (leaky gut), ACEs (adverse childhood experiences), and medications.

But another factor believed to play a role in the development of autoimmune disease is the concept that your health is a mirror of your relationship to yourself and your body (i.e. your beliefs).

The idea that genes control biology was debunked by the Human Genome Project, and supported by Dr. Lipton's findings that: it was not the genes that controlled the cells, but how the cells responded to the environment they were in. And since we have brains, our response to our environment is far more complex than that of a cell. We have beliefs, and it is through these beliefs that we respond to our life situation (or environment). So, perhaps it would be helpful to consider what kind of messages we are giving to our cells right now? If we "attack" ourselves by unconsciously repeating perceptions that we are bad or unworthy, is it possible that the cells may not know to similarly attack themselves? Spiritual teacher Louise Hay asks us -
"What kind of relationship do you think you are creating with yourself and your body if [it's repetitively hearing] negative messages and negative beliefs about yourself?"
I know it's a big shift in rhetoric from conventional medicine, but I wonder - is there anything to lose by bringing more self-awareness to our beliefs and developing a more compassionate relationship with ourselves?

With autoimmune conditions, we often see that physical symptoms are accompanied by ACEs and/or trauma. In fact, research has found a link between stress and trauma in childhood and the likelihood of hospitalisation with autoimmune disease in adulthood. In my experience as a Nutritional Therapist and Self-Compassion Coach, when you support both the body and the mind, the benefits increase exponentially.

In my clinic, I marry Functional Medicine with Compassionate Inquiry and Self-Compassion training to help get your health back on track, and restore balance to your mind and body.

Next Steps

Hi I'm Molly, I'm a UK-based Nutritional Therapist (DipION, mBANT, CNHC) and Self-Compassion Coach (MSc) serving my community in Harpenden and online. Here in my little online home, you'll discover the benefits of nutritional therapy and complementary therapies for autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

Want to understand more about nutrition for autoimmune diseases? Download my free recipe book and discover 12 Nutritionist-Certified Recipes to Help Alleviate the Symptoms of Autoimmunity & Chronic Illness.

If you’re ready to take the next step and get back to feeling amazing again, please book a FREE 1:1 call, in which I’d love to talk to you about your own individual diet, share with you some personalised advice, and answer any questions you might have.


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