10 Limiting Beliefs About Health and Healing

By Val Silver

Are one or more of these ten limiting beliefs about health and healing lurking in your mind? If so, do they really affect your ability to get well and stay well? The resounding answer appears to be "Yes", if those beliefs are part of your subconscious programming. For this reason, the powerful placebo and nocebo effects must be part of viable clinical studies.

We have more beliefs about health and every aspect of ourselves, our lives, our world, and others than we could ever imagine. Most beliefs, or subconscious programs, operate below your level of awareness. Many subconscious beliefs were acquired during your formative early years. They were downloaded into your mind as you were taught on purpose or by accident, your culture, what you observed in the world, and what you perceived would make you accepted and acceptable. 

Many of your beliefs will serve you well throughout your lifetime. Some of your subconscious programming may have served you well as a child, but not so much as an adult. Fears and fixed mindset beliefs about health, relationships, finances, and possibilities keep you from manifesting the well-being and success you desire. Until brought to light, you may not even be aware that they are driving your thoughts, choices and actions.

limiting beliefs about health, the man who thinks he can, Henry Ford quote

Examples of Cultural and Religious Health Beliefs

More than likely you have at least a few of these unconscious fixed mindset beliefs about health that you acquired from your family, culture, or religious upbringing. You may believe them in whole or in part. You may be aware of them or not. You may firmly believe them or entertain their possibility.

Don't be too quick to gloss over one you think isn't part of your belief system. You might be surprised. If you know how to muscle test, ask if each statement is part of your belief system.

1. I am destined to get this condition because of my genes.

This belief was considered fact until the study of epigenetics proved otherwise.. Although genes may make you vulnerable to certain conditions, they do not destine you to a specific illness. Unless you are in the five percent of the population with a heritable disease (like sickle cell anemia and hemophilia), your lifestyle is a much higher predictor of risk than your genes. Making healthy choices will go far in keeping troublesome genes turned off.

2. It is not safe for me to get well.

This limiting belief about health and healing may sound silly, but it is quite widespread. Your subconscious perceives change as a threat to your safety. It takes a lot of self awareness and honesty to ferret this programming out. You may have viable reasons to want to hold on to an illness or disability. You may get extra attention, disability checks, a ready excuse to say no, days off, fewer responsibilities - to name a few.

Having to give up these perks in exchange for getting well can feel like a real threat to your subconscious mind as well as the secondary gains you are aware of and don't want to lose. This belief about health and healing can create an internal conflict between your desire to get well and your desire to not give up what you have gained by your condition.

3. I do not deserve to heal.

Just like safety, limiting beliefs about health and your ability to get well have to do with feelings of deserving and being worthy. These beliefs are common and show up in a lot of ways. You may feel unworthy or undeserving of good relationships, enough money, love, health, happiness, etc.. Perhaps you see your health condition as some kind of punishment or karma.

Chances are, if you feel that way in one area of your life, it is spilling over into others. Guilt, shame, blame and low self esteem are indicators of this thought pattern. 

Regardless of why you consider yourself undeserving, it is possible to develop feelings of worth. You do deserve to get well. Releasing techniques can help you neutralize this limiting belief and any other beliefs about health and healing that interfere with your well-being.

4. Health and healing require the help of experts and remedies. 

This health belief has been programmed into many of us from birth. We believe we need doctors, shamans, medications, herbs, energy healing, supplements, therapists, you name it, just to be born and to get or stay well for every little and big health complaint. 

While at times these aids are quite helpful and necessary, it is also true that you have an innate ability to heal. There is a saying that "all healing is self-healing". When given what it needs, the body heals itself. The practitioner or substance helps the mind and body achieve the balance it needs to recover.

In general, people do best when they accept personal responsibility for their well-being, even when they are being cared for by another. For example, the placebo effect  has repeatedly shown how well people respond to sham medications and surgeries. They respond better to treatment when they perceive the doctor cares.

On the other hand, the nocebo effect makes true beliefs that certain medications and treatments will harm you.

If you find yourself feeling better on your way to the doctor's office, you likely hold this subconscious program.

5. I do not need help to heal.

Limiting beliefs about health can be powerfully helpful or powerfully dangerous, depending on your situation. This is one of them.

Given the right tools, your body is capable of healing itself and does so on a daily basis without any conscious action on your part whatsoever. You can also take action to heal yourself of many lifestyle conditions.

Sometimes though, for whatever reason, you need help from someone or something else in order to get well. People have died willing themselves to heal when a minor surgery or a dose of antibiotics would have made them well. Resisting needed care, avoiding preventive care, and 'not wanting to hear it' are signs of this fixed mindset is at work.

Dig deep for the fears driving this stance. They show up as fear of being pressured to change, fear of going through unpleasant medical procedures, and/or fear of learning something scary about your health.

6. My illness is incurable.

When your disease is pronounced incurable, you are either sent home to live with it, or to get your affairs in order before your impending death. Incurable means that conventional medicine does not have any more interventions to cure your disease. Therefore you are deemed hopeless.

Some people accept this as their fate and die as expected. Others get so busy living, maybe for the first time in their lives, that they forget they are supposed to die.

Other people refuse to accept this prognosis as truth. Often it is a new beginning of shedding their 'shoulds' and living life to the fullest. Many begin to explore alternative medicine and improve their lifestyle. They often far exceed all expectations for healing, happiness and longevity. They know that just because the medical system doesn't have a treatment or cure, it doesn't mean that the same is true of alternative therapies, including simple solutions such as correcting the diet.

Perhaps a truer statement by the medical establishment should be, "I/we don't know how to heal this illness yet."

7. It is God's will or fate.

Religion and spirituality influence a lot of our beliefs about health, healing, and life. That God or fate wills you to experience sickness or suffering for whatever reason is one of them. This statement has two sides: It may be an honest acceptance of workings of the Divine in your life. On the other hand, this statement is sometimes used as a rationalization or excuse to avoid personal responsibility and action.

My aunt was a perfect example of this mindset. Every hardship was her "cross to bear". She did little or nothing to change her situation for the better. In truth, she was responsible for much of her hardship, but she never owned it. She preferred to continue as is and blame someone else. Obviously, there was a reason she continued on that path even though she claimed to be miserable (and probably was) and wished for another kind of life.

The difficulty with this is spiritual belief system is knowing whether it really is 'your time', or your 'cross to bear' or  whether it is an incredible opportunity for healing and transformation. And only God would know which. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How can I be absolutely sure this is fate or God's will? 
  2. Am I punishing myself or avoiding change?
  3. What if it is an opportunity to improve myself and my life?
  4. If my illness or difficulty is a vehicle for healing and spiritual evolution, and not a means to an ending, is it not my duty to do all I can to seek wholeness?
  5. If it is my time, would that not be all the more reason to heal in mind and spirit?

Here's a tip: If you feel resistant or defensive answering any of the questions that's a big clue that the fixed mindset is at work even if there is a kernel of truth in it.

8. Healing takes a set amount of time.

Again, while this may often be the case, it may not necessarily be the only truth. For example, some people suffer with a cold or flu for a few days, others for weeks. Stories of instantaneous spontaneous healing abound. My own son healed from jaw surgery in a fraction of the time we were told to expect, leaving his doctor speechless. (I still laugh about that!)

9. You define yourself by your condition.

Sometimes limiting beliefs about health sound like truth. I'm an alcoholic, I'm diabetic, I'm obese, I'm disabled. I'm depressed.

But, you say, this is the truth, not just something I think is true. I have a diagnosis.  I am _____.  Are you really? Is that WHO you are? Or is it a condition you have at this time? This may sound like splitting hairs, but this is a significant belief shift that can influence your quality of life and potential outcomes.

Is your condition the truth of your identity and what you want to affirm about yourself? Or is it part of what you are experiencing in your life? These questions may sound like mere semantics, but there is a big difference between saying, "I am an insomniac or a cancer victim..." and "I am having trouble sleeping or I am experiencing these symptoms, problems." 

10. It is all about the parts.

Beliefs about health and healing have changed dramatically since modern medicine has become our primary style of health care. Traditional healing has always been holistic. In this day of medical specialties, it is easy to see how we have fallen for the allopathic model that treats us as a collection of parts.

Drugs, surgery, even herbs and supplements, are aimed at parts of our bodies. This approach may work great for cars, but injuries aside, it is not always so great for the whole human being. The affected part may not even be the main problem. It may just be experiences symptoms as a result of a problem elsewhere. For example, you might think the discomfort in your right shoulder means something is wrong with your shoulder when the real problem stems from a troubled gallbladder. A headache may be fueled by problems in the gut.

In many cases, it is much better to figure out the cause of the symptoms and treat yourself as the whole person you are.

Are you making mindset mistakes that are hurting your health and limiting your overall well-being? 

Find out how your thoughts and beliefs affect your well-being and five common mindset beliefs affect your well-being. Learn how to shift those beliefs so your mind works toward better health and happiness instead of against it.

5 Mindset Mistakes and more are included with your free subscription to Val's newsletter.

Are limiting beliefs about health always wrong?

No. There is often a kernel of truth in cultural and religious health beliefs that makes sorting fact from fiction less than obvious.

At times, one or more beliefs about health and healing may be entirely true or false for you. You may have an illness causes solely by your genetic makeup. A broken leg caused by a car accident is about the part. You may or may not need help healing a particular ailment.

Exceptions, circumstances, and individual makeup can make it difficult to discern whether you are telling yourself the truth or letting your opinions, theories, fixed mindset and programming limit you.

To gain clarity, ask yourself and a knowledgeable someone if your thought or action is reflecting a fixed mindset or one open to possibility and problem solving. 

Awareness and absolute honesty with yourself is key to ferreting out and shifting limiting beliefs about all aspects of health, healing and life. 

Listen to what you say to yourself  and to others, and how you say it. Notice:

  • What feelings come up in your body, and what behaviors and actions you do and avoid? 
  • Be on the look out for fear, which is often a giveaway of a mind closed to other real but unfamiliar possibilities. 
  • Ask yourself if this is a true belief or an excuse. Figure out what you really believe and fear in your subconscious mind. 

These are all powerful clues to what you is going on in your brain's operating system. Never underestimate the power of your mind's power to influence what you think, feel and do. 

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Limiting Beliefs About Health and Healing page updated 03/2020

For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.

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