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Why is it important to define my beliefs if I have a chronic illness?

William B. Salt II., MD
Gastroenterology

In the animal world, there is a saying: "Eat or be eaten." In the spiritual world, the saying is: "Define or be defined." In other words, if you fail to define who you are and what you believe, others will be glad to do it for you! An illness may define you. Hopelessness may define you. You have the ability to choose the attitudes and beliefs that define you and the responsibility to choose them wisely. What you choose to believe affects your attitudes, your behaviors and the very fabric of your physiology and biochemistry.

The set of conclusions and beliefs you draw about your life or your illness make up what is called "the story" or "the narrative" of your life or illness. The meaning you attach to "the story" of your life or illness affects your very physiology and biochemistry. Understand that nearly all life events present you with many options about what to believe. What you choose to believe dramatically affects your ability to overcome illness, endure the pain necessary for growth and healing, and achieve the sense of happiness and peace of mind that is so vital to a life well lived.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome & the MindBodySpirit Connection: 7 Steps for Living a Healthy Life with a Functional Bowel Disorder, Crohn's Disease, or Colitis (Mind-Body-Spirit Connection Series.)

Fast Facts on IBS: One in five people suffers from the frustrating symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). There is no simple answer--no pill, potion, or quick fix--that will cure IBS. But help...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.