What constitutes an optimal recovery mindset? Through over 20 years of clinical experience of observing those patients who were able to overcome their pain and injuries, and navigating my own personal experience, I have come to understand the importance of this aspect of, not only recovery, but healing and transformation. It shapes how you experience your pain, how you participate in your process, and how you communicate with your health care providers. And, as you may have guessed, it is heavily influenced by your brain.
Welcome to the Growth Mindset.
Herrmann’s Model looked at 130,000 brain dominant surveys and synthesized that there are four ways of learning and understanding: analytical, procedural, relational, and innovative. We are born with all four, but some become more dominant depending on other aspects of our lives, as we develop preferences and biases—as Herrmann says, our “lives shaped the way the wind sculpts a tree.” The analytical asks ‘why’, the procedural asks ‘how’, the relational focuses on ‘who’, and the innovative wonders ‘what if’.
When faced with pain, injury, or adversity, any and all of these questions can play a role. ‘Why is this happening?’ is a common question. ‘How am I going to get through this?’ usually comes up. ‘Who can help me?’ is beneficial when seeking a health care provider. Additionally, we can ask, ‘What can I learn from this?’ and ‘How can I not make the same mistakes?’
Understanding, not only how we answer these questions, but which ones we gravitate most toward and how we ask them, can be useful in determining our current mindset and how we may need to shift to best help ourselves. Learning to understand and optimize your mindset allows you to stand for yourself and seek excellence when it comes to your health—excellence, not only in the care you seek out, but in the care you give yourself.
With that in mind, here are my top mindset tips:
1. Openness and Curiosity
Openness is about changing your perception, and curiosity is about maximizing the brain’s novelty bias. We all get excited about shiny new objects or stimuli!
2. Shared accountability
There is a therapeutic alliance that exists between practitioner and patient. While it is up to me to monitor and guide the biological and physiological responses to make someone more recovery-prone, the psychological aspects of managing the responsibilities of life and other social determinants of health must be co-managed. Having a practitioner that is cognisant of all of these aspects is important.
3. Capacity not to fixate.
The harder we stare at any problem, the less likely we are to see solutions and the more distorted becomes our sense of the time we have spent looking at it. Yet it is important to remember that change in life is not only possible but certain. If you are able to give yourself a break and not perseverate on your pain, the doors to change are more likely to open.
4. Resolve and purpose-driven
Pain is challenging, but it is important to have a growth mindset and match your resilience with the challenge. If you believe that the locus of control is within you and you have a purpose in your recovery, resolve is that much easier to come by.
5. Worthiness of health
Knowing that you are worth the effort required for self-care and healing is a cornerstone of recovery and transformation. It is what allows you to continue on when other things in your mindset slip or when they are not going as you had hoped.
6. A dash of no-nonsense, bad-ass attitude
Because it aids resilience—and it makes my messages easier to take!
As a couple of ‘x factors’, maintaining optimism and being able to be your own cheerleader are also useful strategies. Having support both around you and within you helps to keep you moving forward in difficult and uncertain times, especially for those who have more relational tendencies. A love of learning fuels an internal desire for growth and allows us to see the gift in any situation when the question of ‘why’ gets heavy. If you can have the capacity to problem-solve and re-frame your story, you can find other ways to measure progress other than simply absence of pain.
We all know that, when it comes to our health, we pay for things either on the front end or the back end. There is a cost of time, effort, and discipline when it comes to maintaining or regaining our health, yet the cost when we have lost it is much higher. We do not achieve health through passive measures, it is behaviour change that improves health outcomes. It starts with adapting, then believing, and following through with action. If you learn to move better, think differently, and expand your understanding of yourself and your pain, that is the goal of my practice, virtues, and teachings.
But first, you have to show up. Show up for yourself first.
Show up November 17 for the latest Brainfullness Experiment to put your mindset in action. Sign up here
Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.