One mindset that is unhelpful in limbic system retraining is the “fixing mindset.” This mindset is rooted in the belief that there is something wrong with you (or your body) that needs to be fixed. It’s the overwhelming, often desperate desire to “fix” the pain, the symptoms, the imbalance, the anxiety, etc. Of course, it’s a totally normal way to feel when you just want to feel better, but unfortunately, it can reinforce the maladapted stress response and keep you stuck in the same loops that are creating the uncomfortable symptoms.
Because the limbic system is primarily oriented to survial, its biggest priority is detecting safety or danger.
The limbic system is interpreting everything through this lens in order to decipher whether you are safe or in danger. The emotions and behaviors behind the “fixing” mindset communicate danger to the limbic system which then activates the physiological stress response and false warning signals in the form of symptoms that you are desperately desiring to “fix.” It can be a very frustrating cycle!
If the “fixing” mindset communicates danger (which keeps the limbic system hypervigilant), then how do you communicate safety (which calms the limbic system)?
Imagine this scenario…What if there is absolutely nothing wrong with you? What if there is nothing to fix? What if your body has the ability to create abundant physical and mental health right now? What if you have access to all of the energy, comfort, ease, and joy that you desire right now? What if your true, authentic self is and has always been available to access right now?
How does imagining and saying these sentences make you feel? Do you feel more panicked or more peaceful? Do you feel more desperate or more hopeful? Do you feel more unsafe or safer?
What we think and believe directly affects our emotions. And our emotions directly communicate to our limbic system either safety or danger! Thus we can use our beliefs to shift our emotions which then calm our limbic/nervous systems! There are so many practical tools that help communicate safety to our limbic system but shifting our beliefs and the meaning we give to certain scenarios is a great first step to take!
The truth is that your limbic system is doing the job that it was beautifully made to do! It was designed to keep you safe by alerting you to any danger. The system is working, it just may be overworking, sending you warning messages too frequently or in scenarios when protection is not needed.
A note on medical diagnoses: People who are doing brain retraining often come into this work with a variety of diagnoses from medical professionals that reinforce the fear that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. We do not need to deny medical findings. This also does not contradict the truth that there is nothing to "fix." Rather, we have the opportunity to give a different meaning and value to the diagnoses.
Do they mean that there is something wrong with the body that is either unchangeable or requires medical interventions as the only way to heal? Or does it mean that the findings are just the natural result of a limbic system that has been overfiring for too long and you have the ability to provide corrective feedback to the limbic system which allows the body to access its ability to heal itself and operate in full health?
(Side note: I’m not against traditional or holistic medical interventions for chronic illness but have found that they are most helpful when used from the mindset of love and extra support, not from lack and fear.)
Overall, you are not broken and thus do not need to be fixed! Hooray! Right now, just as you are, your body possesses an innate healing mechanism as well as a fully whole, radiant true self! Lean into this truth to cultivate a sense of safety in your body. Over time, with repetition, the limbic system will relax its overprotective response and you will experience transformation in your physical, emotional, and mental health!
Until next time,
Katie is a brain retraining coach who helps women and men access their innate healing wisdom to rewire their brains and thrive in life. Her approach focuses on neuroscience and nervous system education, embodiment, practical strategy, and intuitive insights.
For more information, find her on IG at @katienickersonhealth.
Or sign up for a free consult here!
She can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.