The link between Hashimoto’s and being highly critical of one’s self
Updated: May 11, 2020
In his book ‘When the body says no’, Dr Gabor Mate relates certain negative personality traits or ‘coping mechanisms’ to people with chronic disease. One of these traits (coping mechanisms) is being highly and ultra critical of one’s self.
I have also talked to many people with Hashimoto’s who also express that they are extremely hard on themselves and beat themselves up.
I for one, know that I can be really hard on myself. It is something that I work on every day - to show more compassion to myself.
Many of us had highly critical parents/caregivers, or even teachers who influenced our way of thinking. Between the ages of 0-7, our brain is constantly in theta state and therefore recording everything that is going on around us. This then forms our subconscious mind which runs 95% of our lives as we get older. If we are being criticised, punished or emotionally abused by parents - we will then start doing this to ourselves. It becomes a mental thought pattern - and we don’t even realise we are doing it. Therefore as we get older, we think we are doing all the right things to heal. We are eating clean, taking care of our body, sleeping enough, doing yoga - but yet, there is still some resistance to healing. This usually implies that there are some underlying subconscious thought patterns conflicting with your healing that need to be addressed.
Our cells are constantly listening to our thoughts. Our minds have a direct affect on our bodies. Stress has a direct impact on our immune system and therefore our health. There is a constant communication between the mind and body. (This has been well-known for years and there is so much scientific research that has been done on this subject in recent times, namely by Dr Bruce Lipton, Dr Joe Dispenza and Dr Gabor Mate, amongst many others).
So that being said, if we are ‘attacking’ ourselves with our minds, i.e. ‘I am so stupid for doing that’, ‘I should have better lab results by now’ or ‘I’m so angry at my body for being tired all the time’, then what kind of a message are we giving to our immune system? In the case of Hashimoto's, the immune system attacks it's own cells - the thyroid. So could this be the body's response to our ultra self-critical thoughts?
Thinking this way is a habit, and to unlearn a habit takes daily practice. One thing you can do is every time you notice these emotionally-abusive thoughts come up about yourself, quietly notice it, and then ask yourself: ‘Would I speak to my best friend like this?’ The answer is most probably no (otherwise I doubt they’d be our friend!) and then introduce a new thought - this is how you would respond to a friend in the same situation. This will help you to have compassion for yourself and also develops new connections in the brain which means you’ll have more cognitive flexibility.
For example, if you hear your mind saying, ‘I should be fully healed by now - what am I doing wrong?’, you can stop, pause, and answer back with, ‘I am on a healing journey and trying my best everyday. I do X,Y and Z everyday which helps me to feel better. I am making progress and I am focusing on how far I have come.’ Challenging your mind (aka your ‘inner critic’) allows you to realise that it isn’t the truth and that you have found flaws in its argument. You can choose not to believe it.
It takes quite a bit of practice to be able to notice your thoughts and be aware of them objectively. This is why I recommend adding mindfulness and meditation to part of your daily routine. This gets your brain to practice focusing on one thing such as the sound of your breath. In doing this, your entire attention will be on one thing and therefore you will not be engaging with your thoughts. The more you practice doing this, the more you are able to quieten the ‘thinking mind’ and therefore next time you hear it, you are more likely to be able to a) notice it, and b) get some distance from it (not get caught up in the thoughts).
So for those overly-critical people, I see you (I am one myself!), the following steps help us in order to remove the subconscious programming from childhood, and then re-install a new set of beliefs that are empowering and allow us to heal:
Mindfulness/meditation exercises to help us quieten the thinking mind (inner critic)
Practice noticing when your mind is criticising yourself and watch it from a detached point-of-view. Don’t judge the thoughts, or fight against them - just be aware of them.
Once you are practiced in noticing the thoughts, then start to respond to them in a positive way. You are proving that the thoughts are not fact, and you have plenty of evidence to disprove what they have said (see example above).
Self-love exercises - these will help us to grow compassion for ourselves, and will also make the last step a lot easier. A good exercise is to everyday, write down 3 things that you appreciate about yourself (for example: I appreciate all this healthy food I am making to nourish my body), 3 things that you appreciate about your health (for example: I appreciate my amazing eyesight so that I can see the most beautiful sunsets), and 3 things that you are grateful for in general (for example: I am so grateful for my loving boyfriend being so supportive).
Another thing to remember, is whenever you catch yourself criticising yourself, ask yourself: Is this helping me to heal? The answer is ‘no’ - so there really isn’t any point in doing it. If you make a mistake, accept it, and then ask yourself: what lesson can be learned here? That is what you can take from mistakes and failure - lessons. Lessons are what help us to improve and become better people. As Oprah Winfrey said, ‘Failure is just there to point you in the right direction’.
I hope that this blog post helps you to see that being overly-critical of ourselves is not helping us to be healthy, and certainly not helping the body heal from Hashimoto's. In fact, there’s huge amounts of scientific evidence to tell us it’s doing the opposite. So please start treating yourself with kindness, love and compassion - your cells and body will thank you, and you will be surprised at the miraculous healing that will happen.
1) Mate, Gabor, 2019: When the Body Says No: the cost of hidden stress. London: Vermilion.
2) Dispenza, Dr Joe, 2014: You Are the Placebo: Making Your Mind Matter. London: Hay
3) Lipton, Bruce, 2015: The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness,
Matter & Miracles. UK: Hay House