Mental Override: An Important Skill in the Fight Against Chronic Illness
After a challenging couple of months, I’ve recently had to make a lot of really difficult lifestyle changes.
It started slowly as my work/life balance went out the window. But it didn’t take long for my health to start falling apart. I wasn’t sleeping, my Meniere’s symptoms were the worst they’ve been in years, and all this at a time when my wife and I have a baby on the way.
I had to make some changes to get back on my feet.
In the last month alone, I’ve completely eliminated sugar from my diet, started meditating every day, exercising more, and I put a lot more energy into reducing stress on a daily basis.
It’s finally paying off now, but none of it was easy.
Every single change was a struggle and a daily battle of will power and discipline.
I recently came across a powerful concept that really helped me to make some of these difficult changes. It’s a simple idea called mental override, and I first learned about it from an inspiring man named Aubrey Marcus.
Aubrey is an author, podcaster, and the CEO of a massive health and nutrition company called Onnit.
He explains that mental override is the ability to overcome your thoughts and urges to take control of your body and make difficult decisions. And it’s a skill that you can practice and get better at.
In a recent interview, Aubrey explains:
“You just manually push that go button all the way down and do something that you know you don’t want to do. Because we’re so good at negotiating and justifying and having these little arguments with ourselves. And sometimes you just need that ability to just go, “Okay, we’re doing this.” I don’t care, your scared, that’s cool. You’re going to be alright. Mental Override. We’re doing this.”
And as simple as this concept is, I love the image of mental override as a button you push down with your mind. Because in every difficult situation, you always have a choice. The right choice might be insanely hard to make for any number of reasons, but it’s still a choice.
Chronic Illness and Difficult Decisions:
I like this idea so much because when you live with a chronic illness, a lot of your choices are difficult.
It’s hard to make lasting lifestyle changes. It’s hard to cultivate new, healthy habits. It’s hard to do the things you want to do when your illness can flare up at any moment. It’s hard to make good decisions when your energy is limited and has to be managed carefully. It’s hard to push yourself when fear invades every aspect of your day.
But we can always choose to push the mental override button down and do the difficult thing, or make the change we need to make, or face the thing we’re afraid to face so we can do the things we want to do.
I’ve used this over and over again in the last few weeks to help me get back to my healthy habits and routines. Cutting out sugar from my diet was insanely difficult, and I started it before going on two back to back vacations. It would have been so easy to just give up the diet while I was away with my family. But I pushed the button down, over and over again, and made it through.
I did this with exercise and meditation too. I kept pushing it until I didn’t have to anymore, until they were just a part of my daily routine.
The idea of mental override helps me to remember that I am making choices – that I’m not just living at the whim of my impulses. And after a few weeks of practicing, it’s already getting easier to mentally push the button.
I hope you guys like this idea as much as I do! That’s all from me today. Have a great day everyone!
10 thoughts on “Mental Override: An Important Skill in the Fight Against Chronic Illness”
glenn. What a timely piece as I also have slid and my anger was overtaking me and tinnitus is the worst…I am going to call you today for an appointment… congrats to new news.
Hi Kathy, I’m so sorry things have been tough for you lately. Just drop me an email if you want to set up a tinnitus coaching session, I’m around!
I’ve suffered from Meniere’s Disease since 2002. Like many of you I had multiple episodes during the week and found the illness completely debilitating. After 8 years of multiple Doctors and taking Trampterine the episodes started to subside. Yes I’ve lost about 40% of my hearing, but the long battle was slowly being won.
I’m not sure if this will work for everyone, but similar to this article suggests, I started willing the eposides away. The room would begin to spin, and I would squint my eyes and pray and say to myself, this is not going to happen… and slowly the room would stop spinning. Eventually, I could do this little trick the second the room would begin to spin and it would stop!
For the past 5 years I have not had an episode and almost totally forgot about Meniere’s… Until the other day when I was thrown to the ground with a sudden episode. It only lasted 5 seconds and I was able to will it away without vomiting as I would have done prior to learning how to will it away. (Thinking back, I had a terrible day of eating salts and sweets!)
To all of my fellow suffers of this terrible disease, please give this a try! Squint, pray and demand that this is not going to happen! I hope it works for you as it does for me…
Hi Gary, that’s interesting that this works for you. And would be wonderful if it worked for other people too. Though I should clarify that the concept of mental override is about pushing yourself to do something that’s beneficial but difficult or something your afraid to do. It’s not so much mind over matter as it is that we always have the ability to push ourselves to make the choices that are difficult to make. I hope that makes sense!
Thank you for sharing .. going to give a attempt
Glenn, I read your article recently and had been more strict with my diet. I actually was going to print out calendars like you. One a sugar / gluten, meat, medication/ exercise and one final one for water intake
Thursday I had sugar and meat, Friday I had sodium and yesterday I had Asian food. Msg and sodium. So Saturday I suffered. Head pressure, head ache, throbbing, brain fog, sense of not feeling well, lightheaded and severe stomach pain.
I’m going to stick to my try to get healthy diet
No alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, sugar, msg, sodium
Anti inflammatory and low histamine intake
Yes there’s still food I can consume
Thank you for this post! Ive had a hard month–hearing loss increase and anxiety around the holiday and my ex and planning my Dads memorial service “trip” and trying to change my diet and get back to my self discipline of writing daily and this was the article I needed!
Glad to help! And I’m sorry you’ve had such a difficult month 🙁
Hi there. I’m newly diagnosed with Menieres. I’m having a terrible time coming to grips with this. I’m 30 years old and I went to bed one night and woke up to the worse vertigo of my life and well you all know how the rest goes. Anyway I just wanted to thank you for what you are doing and continue to do. I found this website and it has truly been life changing and saving. It’s helped me out so much already. With your tools and more research and figuring out what works for me I hope to get a handle on this!
Hi Emily, I’m so glad you’ve found my website so helpful! If you ever have any questions, I’m always around: firstname.lastname@example.org