What If Pain Is Your Friend? (Part 2) | My Heartburn StoryDec 27, 2022
In my previous blog - “What If Pain Is Your Friend? (Part 1)” - I talked about the way every cell in our body craves safety and protection, and how our nervous system is designed to alert us of danger through physical pain signals. The blog covered three main threats that will cause a pain signal to switch on:
- External environmental threats
- Physical imbalances in your body
- Broken rapport with self
If you missed that blog, go back and read it here, otherwise my heartburn story that I’m about to share might not make much sense! While most people are aware that physical pain and health symptoms are elicited by environmental threats and physical imbalances in the body, not many people are aware that a broken rapport with self can also cause health issues, and in fact, I’d argue, is the deepest root cause of body burnout.
When Physical Healing Failed Me
Let me explain what I mean by ‘broken rapport with self’ with my own experience with heartburn. I shared in an earlier blog post about how I physically healed my chronic 15 year stint of heartburn after doing my own functional lab tests which revealed a bucket-load of pathogens, including helicobacter pylori. All the physical healing of my gut worked fantastic in resolving my heartburn - but only for 5 or so years. When the covid pandemic hit in 2020, a lot of my old health issues flared up, including heartburn. I wasn’t surprised, considering the amount of stress and overwhelm I felt. While I was frustrated that the pain signals were on, I knew I’d addressed the heartburn earlier, so I thought I could do it again. I got to work doing lab tests and physical protocols, but this time, the heartburn stuck! Even my best effort of doing a very tough SIBO protocol - a 2-week elemental diet, where I could only consume specialised nutritional medicine shakes - didn’t budge the heartburn, even after the SIBO was cleared!
For a few months I was super deflated, and thought the only option was to manage what I ate - reduce high-histamine foods, and eat small portions. This did my head in because I LOVE food! And my deepest belief is that a healthy body should be able to eat all healthy foods with no issues.
Health Issues As Protection From Our Greatest Fear
And so, I investigated other reasons why my health issues were still lingering. This is when I came across (my now life coach) Jaemin Frazer. In his book Unhindered: The Seven Essential Practices For Overcoming Insecurity, Jaemin talks about health issues as being a sign of unaddressed insecurity. He says: “Your body craves health. Health is the default. When you take the handbrake off and give yourself permission to flourish, health is where you end up. Being unhealthy, sick and carrying excess weight is serving you by protecting you from what you are most afraid of.”
Ummm…I was intrigued! We’d already been preaching and teaching the body-mind connection in our health practice, and I thought my ‘mind’ was fine. But the fact I had heartburn and other dysfunctional patterns showing up in my life, which was affecting my relationships, happiness, finances and even our business, made me realise that there was deeper inner work to be done. Behaviour never lies!
And so I worked with Jaemin for 6-months to dive deep into my own hidden self-limiting beliefs and insecurities, which reaped amazing results in all areas of my life. You can listen to my full journey on Jaemin’s podcast here. But for now, let me tell you about my incredible experience with healing heartburn!
Hiding In Plain Sight
So, about 4.5-months into my inner healing journey, I had seen some incredible breakthroughs and improvements in my life as I was deconstructing and rewriting weak and incapable beliefs about myself. Yet, the damn heartburn was still there. During a coaching session with Jaemin, I felt a bit deflated. Maybe the heartburn had nothing to do with insecurities. Maybe it was just a physical issue, a histamine intolerance, that I would have to ‘manage’.
I was pretty much saying: “it’s not me food, it’s you!”
To which, Jaemin responded: “I think you might be hiding out in plain sight.”
What does that actually mean?!
Hiding out in plain sight is when you appear to be doing something good or healthy, but you’re actually hiding or running away from the deepest fear about yourself - for me, that was my old belief-system that I was inherently weak and incapable.
When Jaemin said that, a supplement I had been taking for years immediately popped into my head. My beloved MenstroCare! This is a lovely natural herbal supplement that balances out female hormones. I have a history of PCOS, irregular periods (as in, I used to only get my period every 3-6-months), an emotional PMS-mess, infertility and hormonal acne. I had been taking MenstroCare because it was the only thing that had ever given me lovely, regular cycles, little to no PMS, and delicious clear skin (as long as I was also avoiding dairy).
I thought: “Why are you popping into my head MenstroCare? What the heck do you have to do with heartburn?!”
But I had learned during this inner-work process that random things don’t just pop into my conscious mind for no reason - it is always a message from my unconscious state.
And so I listened in. What are you trying to tell me, unconscious state? How is this supplement connected to my heartburn? Surely there’s nothing wrong with taking this lovely natural medicine - it’s a natural gift from the earth, and there’s nothing wrong with taking it as a supportive supplement long-term.
But the more I listened in to my unconscious state, the more I got really raw and honest with myself, I realised I was using this supplement as a “hide out”.
The truth was: I was scared to stop the supplement because if I did my hormones would go nuts again, and my skin would break out in pimples, and then EVERYBODY - including our clients - would think I was unhealthy, a fraud, a hypocrite, a no-good practitioner! My old dysfunctional beliefs of being weak and incapable were still stealthily hanging around, even though I thought I’d fully addressed them! Behaviour never lies - my behaviour of holding onto the supplement solely because I was scared about what others would think about me and my abilities as a practitioner if my skin broke out was enough evidence to my unconscious state to say: “yeah, deep down, I still believe you’re weak and incapable”.
What the heck?!?!
In addition to my hiding out, the fact I hadn’t given my body and hormones a chance to balance on their own unsupported - or to even see where my hormones were at - was also evidence that I didn’t trust my body’s innate ability to rebalance and achieve health.
Remember: our bodies crave health. When you can address deep dysfunctional beliefs about yourself and allow yourself to truly flourish, health is where you end up.
Jaemin was right. I was hiding out in plain sight! I was hiding behind the supplement, a lovely natural healthy thing to take, and pretending it was because it was for my health. In actual fact, it was to protect myself from being exposed once again as being weak and incapable!
And so, as scary as it felt, I decided that day to stop the MenstroCare. I wanted to give my body and hormones a chance to see how they would go, unsupported. And while I hoped all would be well, there was a part of me that wanted my skin to break out, so I could work through the insecurities I had around my pimples and what I feared other people would think about me and my abilities as a practitioner. At this stage, I still had no idea if doing this would address the heartburn, but I knew that every time I had listened to my unconscious state, steering me towards establishing rapport with myself, good things had always happened.
The Miracle Heartburn Healing
And then a miracle happened. I call this a miracle, because there’s no way I would’ve thought this possible, if it hadn’t happened to me.
That night, I ate dinner, a meal high in histamine - tomatoes, spices, GF pasta - a meal I’d eaten two days earlier, that had ‘given’ me heartburn. But this time, after I ate, I spoke to my body.
You’ve got this body. I trust you. I love you. You’re whole. You’re well. You’re fighting for me, not against me. I believe in you. I believe in me. I am strong. I am capable. I am amazing. Body you are amazing. And I’m so sorry. I’m so truly sorry I had been doubting you, when I didn’t even consciously know I had been!
And as I spoke to my body. The most beautiful thing happened.
From the top of my throat right to the bottom of my gut, I felt the most intense rippling feelings of energy and light and love cascade from one end of my gut to the other. I can’t explain it in any other way then I was spiritually being healed.
With my empty bowl of food in front of me, I burst out crying. Tears of awe. Tears of gratitude. Tears of forgiveness. Tears of pure love my self and my amazing body. And there was no heartburn. NO heartburn! Even when logically, this meal, this starchy, high-histaminey meal, should’ve triggered the heartburn!
And for two days after that, every time I ate, I felt the same spiritual, energetic, rippling feelings of love and light from my throat to the bottom of my gut - and no heartburn!
I felt like superwoman, because I did this! No one else did this for or to me. Not even a supplement healed me this time. By coming out of hiding and deeply trusting my body and my own innate nature, I was able to finally calm my nervous system down, which then allowed the physiological pain signal from my unconscious state (the heartburn) to turn off. My body was/is incredible!
(I know I’m using a lot of exclamation marks - my old PhD supervisor would be cringing - but holy cow, this is life-changing!).
You Are Hardwired To Heal Your Body
I now have a very deep understanding that health symptoms are never just physical. The body and mind are connected. Your unconscious state is controlling everything - including how your nervous system and other body organs function. And how extraordinary that our unconscious state can communicate to us through our bodies - albeit through pain! - to keep us safe and soulfully happy. I see pain now as a friend, as a loving communication pathway, letting us know when something isn’t quite right.
Am I heartburn-free? Nope, I’ve had a few flare-ups (lasting from 6 hours to 48 hours) since this experience. And while initially I thought it was ‘the food’ that triggered the heartburn again, it never was the food. In all three times I’ve experienced the heartburn, I had broken rapport with myself in some way. And as soon as I rebuilt trust and realigned with my true self again, the heartburn switched-off. Immediately!
When I’ve shared this story with others, many have said: “Wow, you’re so in tune with your body! I wish I was that in tune.” Am I special to have had this deep healing experience? No, not at all! Anyone, when willing, can learn to communicate with their body. In fact, it’s how we’re hardwired - you just have to learn how to get out of your own way.
The last few months of 2022, we’ve been putting together a very specific process called SPARK (as part of our Ending Body Burnout Method) that coaches you to become your own healer and realign back to the way you are hardwired to heal. In SPARK, we coach you how to Rewire your brain and all the inner dysfunctional beliefs, stories, patterns and programs that are stressing out your nervous system and blocking your ability to heal. THIS is the missing piece in healthcare, including in many functional medicine practices. The body and mind are connected. While physical healing is important to resolve your body burnout, and definitely part of our toolkit, you’ll only ever get short term relief (if at all) if the inner stuff isn’t addressed.
Filipa Bellette is Co-Founder of Chris & Filly Functional Medicine. She is an accredited Clinical Nutritionist & Functional Medicine Practitioner. She is also a Ph.D. thought-leader, award-winning writer, and regularly published as a guest blogger & in the media. Together with her husband Chris Bellette, Filipa has worked with over 2,000+ busy, burnout clients in the last 10+ years, and specialises in producing healthy, balanced, and happy Mums & Dads...or as she calls it, a Power Parent! Filipa’s own passion for producing high-performance Power Parents came from her own personal experience of Mummy Burnout, after having babies and juggling the demands of business, family, and her failing health.
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