12 Thoughts that Make You Sick
This famous photo by George Silk for Life Magazine in 1948 featured model Kay Heffernon posing in a cloud of DDT with a hotdog, a soda and a plastic straw. The publicity stunt was meant to convince the American public that DDT spraying was safe. It wasn’t. The truth is, thinking environmental toxins are safe when they're not have made people and planet sick. DDT is a known carcinogen. A recent trans-generational study showed DDT exposure increased the risk of breast cancer four-fold. DDT has also been linked to Alzheimer’s.
Manipulative advertising like this helps explain how the U.S. got to a chronic disease rate as frightening as 50%. But it doesn't explain all of it. Let's look at the dysfunctional thinking that dishonest ads like this play off. Because the real issue is how it is that hundreds of millions of Americans believed a marketing campaign as ridiculous and dangerous as this one.
Below is my list of the top 12 thoughts that are causing millions of Americans to become chronically ill every year. Look them over and see how many you're familiar with because you've heard them before, or you think them yourself. Each one can increase your risk of chronic illness by enabling deliberate ignorance, risk taking, fatalism, avoidance, complacency, invincibility, co-dependency, denial, separation, instant gratification, triangulation and narcissism. I call them bodymindsets because our repetitive thoughts are connected to emotional postures and unconscious habitual behaviors that can lead to ill health.
If you have any one of these bodymindsets, or even all of them, you might want to think about how you plan to change. Be careful overthinking it though, spinning your wheels in your head, and getting nowhere. Neuroscientists say most of us think the same thoughts over and over, to the point that we are using only about 2% of our full brain capacity. Thinking the same thoughts over and over is a sign it's time to detox your thoughts, as well as your liver. Because without the thought to detox your liver, you never would. And without the thought to question current medical practices, you might not explore preventive practices that are easily within reach, some of which come from traditional cultural practices dating back millennia, some of which are emerging on the future horizon.
Meditation is a good place to start, because meditation develops the observing self, an aspect of our consciousness capable of observing our own thoughts from a place outside of them. That means we are not our thoughts, and we can change them. And that’s the first step toward healing what really ails us. Because if we're stuck thinking it won't happen to me, when it can, or it's safe when it's not, or it's genetic when it's environmental, then we won't be able to adapt today when it matters the most.
- I don't know.
- I thought it was safe.
- It's genetic.
- Not today.
- I'm fine.
- It won't happen to me.
- My doctor can fix me.
- I didn't see it coming.
- It's all in my head.
- Isn't there a pill for it?
- My insurance won't pay for it.
- I'm all alone.
If you want to learn more about changing bodymindsets for lifelong health, download my book the Body Psychology of Chronic Disease.