A health crisis is one of the most challenging struggles we will face in our life. We will all face challenges. Sometimes, we can control what happens and sometimes we can’t. In both cases, it is how you approach that challenge that determines how you deal with it. In this article, we will see how your self-image plays a significant role in how you deal with challenges. For instance, when you first hear the doctor say that you have a particular illness; that is a significant challenge that you have to become actively involved with. We, too often, look outside for the solution to our challenges.

Especially when you deal with a health crisis, you have to look within and tap what I call the Wisdom of your Body. The Wisdom of the Body is the home of your inner resources. It exists in the silence beyond your thoughts and choreographs every action your body performs.

The "self-image" is the key to human personality and human behavior. Change the self-image and you change the personality and the behavior.
Maxwell Maltz, author Psycho-Cybernetics

Every time we think, it is as though we just spoke, but on a very subtle level. It is as though thinking is like talking to your self-image and your response to those thoughts comes from who you are talking to. A Positive Self-image naturally gives you positive responses that come from the Wisdom of the Body. If you have a Negative Self-image, you will tend to get limited, even negative responses. If you changed your self-image, you will get different responses. It is your responsibility to identify with a self-image that serves you.

Let me give you a definition of Positive Self and Negative Self. A Positive Self-image is the easiest way to connect to the Wisdom of the Body. It is the part of you that exists in the moment and can meet your challenges with powerful inner resources. This is the conscious way for you to deal with a new diagnosis. It is a way that you connect to inner resources that will be helpful to empower you to be a significant partner with your doctor.

A Negative Self-image is the self-image that comes from your past conditioning and only represents the conditioned part of you. It is the part of you that created habits and responds in the moment with those habits, whether appropriate or not. When facing a new diagnosis, this is the part of you that panics and does not accept powerful inner resources.

When a person is ill, it is very often not the illness that determines the outcome, as much as the attitude of the patient. Norman Cousins, author and philosopher, said that 50% of healing is the doctor’s responsibility and 50% is the patient’s. But, the medical community too often treats patients as victims without encouraging them to play an active role in their own healing.

Being a victim has been the way most of us think. But, when you are forced to deal with a challenge you cannot control, like an illness, changing your habitual perspective is essential. When we identify with our habits, they are difficult to change. Simply by changing your self-image, you get a new perspective and change becomes possible.

By consciously conditioning a new self-image, the part of you that interprets thoughts and perception, you see the world differently. Now, this new self-image is not pure fantasy; it can be made from your past experiences, so that you can identify with it. Even though the self-image you want to change was strongly conditioned and may resist change, you can create new habits that make it feel like a special part of you. When that special part of you deals with your problem, you respond more consciously with a stronger quality of life.

Aristotle said it simply over 2,300 years ago: "We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

We change our self-image frequently. For instance, as a young adult you may have had a serious illness, but were not encouraged to take an active role in healing. This created negative memories and habits that you have to grow out of to deal with your new diagnosis. As soon as you received the present diagnosis, past memories of poor performance bubbled up and created a doubting self-image. It is possible to consciously change that to a self-image that really serves you.

You must want to change before any real change can happen. If you approach struggle with the attitude that old habits cannot be changed, it will be very hard to make needed changes.
On the subconscious level, where self-images were created, you have the power to create an independent self-image. This is where you do not solely rely on external help. Looking at the brighter side of struggle means using it for growth. Participation begins at the level of our intentions. You have to intend to conquer your struggle before you become fully active.

The way people relate to you teaches you how you view yourself. Your self-image becomes a filter for everything you encounter in life. If people relate to you in terms more negative than positive, then you will likely have a Negative Self-image.

A Positive Self-image, on the other hand, can do wonders. The Positive Self-image helps you to connect to the Wisdom of the Body. Your Positive Self is the part of you that exists in your thinking mind that can directly communicate to this inner wisdom.

Your self-image can go from positive to negative several times a day. Accepting your Positive Self-image allows you to think more creatively, express your heart more truly, breathe differently and watch your inner wisdom as it performs its magic in healing.

Now, think of the challenge of your new diagnosis. Which part of you would be able to meet that challenge? Learn the Positive Self technique and develop it into a habit. Access it from your subconscious level with conscious triggers and prepare to meet your challenge at your full potential . Integrate your Positive Self into your daily life. Be open to accept the best parts of you.

© 2015 Marc Lerner

Author's Bio: 

Marc Lerner has been a life skills coach for 25 years and has been working to empower patient participation, to improve the quality of life and to improve attitudes when facing challenges. Marc has had multiple sclerosis since 1981, which is an incurable disease. He had to tap inner resources to cope with his illness because he could not rely completely on help from medical professionals. Now, Marc teaches life skills, including ways to develop a positive self-image, confidence and self-trust. In 1982, Marc founded Life Skills Institute and served as its president to 2013. Through the Institute, he worked for 25 years at the VA with veterans with PTSD, cancer and AIDS patients and the mentally ill homeless. In 2002, Marc was named Outstanding American with Disabilities Business Person in Los Angeles.
He is the author of A Healthy Way to be Sick, The Positive Self, Change Your Self-Image and You Change Your Life The End A Creative Way to Approach Death and A Poetic View of Hospice all available on Amazon Kindle. In these books and in his work, he helps people to interpret their struggle in a conscious way. His writing and tele-seminars teach these skills adapted for any struggle. Marc was the host of a radio show on WorldTalkRadio, called A Healthy Way to be Sick. You can find copies of his shows on marclerner.com.