Multiple Sclerosis

Mindset Makeover: Start Thriving with MS

January 16, 2024

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MS Mindset Reset Alene Brennan

I miss the person I used to be before MS.  The energy to enjoy life and to eagerly say “yes” to every opportunity and event feels like a distant memory. I used to be the one in charge and in control. Now, I struggle to keep up. I don’t want to get left behind. Is this your MS mindset?

Do these sound like the thoughts running across your mind everyday?

If so, it’s time for a mindset makeover. 

Your brain validates the thoughts that you think every single day. So if your thoughts are stuck in fear, doubt and relentless worries, it’s time to change that. 

Let’s start creating a life filled with more than just coping – let’s start creating a life where we’re thriving with MS. 

These are the practical strategies to help you get there.  

Do Thoughts Really Create Your Reality?

What do you think of when you hear the concept that your thoughts create your reality? 

I was skeptical. 

I thought it was a bit woo woo. 

And if I’m being honest, I also thought that it omitted God from the equation, like I’m somehow in control versus Him. 

But the more I continue to study mindset, the more I realize that there is truth to it. 

The Science Behind Mindset

The science behind the mindset is what caught my attention most. 

Researchers estimate that the average person has about 12K to 60K thoughts per day.

But here’s the disturbing part. According to the National Science Foundation:

  • 80% of our thoughts are negative and 
  • 95% of our thoughts are repetitive. 

That means that if you’re just letting your thoughts run the show, you’ll have negative thoughts on repeat every single day. 

Reticular Activating System

And now check this out… Your brain processes an overwhelming amount of information every single day. 

Your brain observes more than we could actually comprehend. So, our brain filters out information that isn’t relevant to us. 

How does it determine what is relevant and not relevant?

It follows the lead of our thoughts. 

Yup, whatever is on your mind, your brain will seek to validate for you. 

So, if you’re constantly telling yourself how hard life is now and how nobody understands your struggles, it will continue to show you examples of that. 

This is why I often say, “that which you focus on gets bigger.”

It’s because through thoughts are creating the filter for which you see and experience life.

Your Brain Reflects Your Thoughts

You may have heard this example before, but it’s an easy one to relate to, so I want to share it with you as well. 

In normal everyday life, you likely drive your car paying attention to other cars in the context of their position to you on the road. 

In other words, your brain is just focused on keeping you safe and arriving at your destination. 

But when you’re on the hunt for a new car, and you’re considering a blue SUV, your start to see blue SUVs everywhere. 

It’s like they’re everywhere now. 

The blue SUVs have always been on the road but they had no relevance or importance to you in life, so your brain didn’t bring your attention to them. 

But once something is relevant to you, your brain starts to see it as a priority. 

This is known as your reticular activating system. 

What’s On Your Mind

So it begs the question, what are you focusing on?

What thoughts are running across your mind every single day? 

Are your thoughts:

  • Directing you to what you want to experience more of?
  • Moving you towards experiencing better health?

If your answer is a unanimous “no” it’s time for a mindset makeover. 

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

This is actually a big topic in the autoimmune community. 

You may have heard it referred to as a “growth mindset” vs. a “fixed mindset.”

Fixed Mindset

The first is a Fixed Mindset. 

People with a fixed mindset tend to see their: 

  • Abilities
  • Intelligence
  • Identity

as if they’re set in stone.

They don’t believe that their circumstances can or will change.

A fixed mindset would tell you that there’s no cure, and nothing will change your outcome with this disease. 

People with a fixed mindset tell themselves that new ideas won’t make a difference, so they talk themselves out of change before they even start.

They stick to familiar routines even if those habitual habits are taking them in the wrong direction. 

Stepping out of their comfort zone feels too risky. 

In their eyes, everything is set in stone, so why even bother?

“It is what it is,” and they believe that they don’t have any control or influence over their life. 

Growth Mindset 

Where as people with a growth mindset tend to see their:

  • Abilities
  • Intelligence
  • Identity

as something that can be developed and improved over time.
They firmly believe that circumstances can and will change.

It might take some effort and learning on their end, but they have the ability to change.

So, if they receive a diagnosis like MS, they start to think about what is within their control to influence the outcome.

They start to see changes in their diet as something that is empowering – it’s something that’s within their control and has the potential to improve their energy and to help manage MS long term. 

They’re open to new ideas and willing to take action even if it’s messy, imperfect action. 

They are willing to step out of their comfort zone and try new approaches because they see the possibilities to make their lives better.

They understand that while some aspects of life may be beyond their control, they focus on what they can influence and control.

So basically… 

  • The Fixed mindset is rooted in fear.
  • The Growth mindset is rooted in hope and optimism. It’s focused on where you want to GO!

So how do you start shifting towards a growth mindset?

Adopting a Growth Mindset 

First, we want to start being more mindful of what we’re feeding our mind. 

Pay attention to the music you’re listening to, the shows you’re watching, the social media accounts that you’re following, the books that you’re reading, even the conversations that you’re having throughout your day. 

What messages is your mind consuming on a daily basis? 

When I started doing this, I unfollowed a few social media accounts that always had me in comparison mode.

I would see this person’s stories and posts and always felt down afterwards. 

And I decided to “favorite” the people that uplifted me so that my social media experience was a more positive and uplifting experience. 

Same thing with TV. 

I’ve shared before that I’m not a big fan of TV, but what I was watching wasn’t really positive. There was always some conflict in the storyline that was stressful.

So I started watching more Food Network or and HGTV. 

I’m not suggesting that you have to stop watching or completely get off social media, although the people who do that, swear by it. 

I’m just inviting you to start paying attention to how you feel and the thoughts you’re thinking after you’ve been watching TV or scrolling on social media. 

And if you need to add some more positive messages in your day, do so with podcasts – you’re off to a great start if you’re a member of My MS Podcast community! – and listen to some good audio books. 

You have more control than you may realize with what you feed your mind. 

So pay attention to what you’re feeding your mind on a daily basis and how that may be influencing your thoughts and mindset. 

Developing a Gratitude Journal is also Really Valuable

Here’s why. 

If you commit to writing down three things every night that you’re grateful for, you’re training your brain to see things that are already in your life that are positive and valuable. 

You’re also training your brain to see more moments of gratitude throughout your day – remember that which you focus on gets bigger. 

Last but not least, affirmations. 

The other thing that I find to be really helpful are affirmations. 

This is about choosing a new thought and that can start with an affirmation. 

I think it’s important to choose ones that you actually believe in and resonate with you. 

Here are some ideas to use as inspiration, but I also encourage you to create one that’s unique to you if you can. 

“Each day, I focus on what I can do and let go of what I can’t.”

“I celebrate the little wins because they add up to big victories.”

“I know my needs matter, and I speak up for myself confidently.”

“I’m not alone in this; I have people who understand and support me.”

You can receive a free copy of my MS Anthem – a powerful mindset tool. Print it, post it and read it daily because you are more than MS – today and everyday.

Mindset: A Worthy Lifelong Journey

Mindset work is something that I know I will always be working on, so this isnt’ something that you master in one day or even on year.

But when you’re willing to take the step to change your mindset, you literally can change how you experience life and MS. 

What’s Your Take on Mindset?

Share in the comments below what helps you from a mindset perspective?

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I'm Alene, your MS Sister.

When I was diagnosed with MS in 2016, I was scared and felt alone. But as a Nutrition Coach, I knew there was more to healing than what I was being told. I took action and within six months the lesions I had on my brain shrunk and went inactive. Now, seven years later there has been no new lesions and no new activity. As a nutritionist specializing in multiple sclerosis, I help women take back control of their future.

That’s my story, but I’m not alone. It's your turn to start Thriving with MS. I’m here to show you the way. 

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