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Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

Dr. Larry Berkelhammer

The purpose of this blog and the entire website is to provide evidence-based information on how to live with self-care mastery. It is for all medical patients, caregivers, and advocates who want to learn how to collaborate with their physicians to optimize health. It is also for those living with a debilitating medical condition who want to learn about the power of the mind to effect physiological changes, including ideas and practices that allow the mind to be the catalyst for healing.

I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are relevant published articles. Wednesday posts are videos of webinars or interviews. Friday posts consist of questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.

Here is this week’s question:

THIS WEEK’S QUESTION:  I have tried your recommendation of becoming aware of my thoughts and feelings, but I have not had any luck in changing my unwanted and obsessive thoughts and feelings. What can I do to replace my unwanted thoughts and feelings with happier and healthier ones?

ANSWER:In the last ten years, research psychologists have found that thought substitution often serves to paradoxically reinforce and concretize the very thoughts we wish to eliminate.

One practice with greater proven efficacy is mindfulness practice, which is explored in depth in my book: In Your Own Hands: New Hope for People with Chronic Medical Conditions.

There are other practices also explored in that book. An incredibly simple and effective one is the following: Instead of trying to replace unwanted thoughts and feelings with happier, healthier ones, practice putting attention on slow diaphragmatic breathing and good posture.

This combined practice of slow diaphragmatic breathing and good posture obviates the need to change your thoughts and feelings. In fact, for all the people who are not interested in taking on a daily mindfulness practice, this simple behavioral practice is very powerful and life enhancing.

Good demonstrations of this simple behavioral practice can be seen on the TV show called The Dog Whisperer. People hire dog whisperer Cesar Millan to train their dogs, but he actually trains the dog owners to practice calm assertive behavior. As the dog owners learn to slow and deepen their breathing and practice good posture, their dogs as well as other people begin to respond to them more positively and they feel better about themselves.

This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.

What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges that are related to the relationship between states of mind and health?

Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box below. I will post a reply to your comment, but your specific question may not appear in this column. When I get a certain number of related questions, I pick one that covers them all and I answer that one.

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