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Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life

“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.” ~Proverb

As I start a new day, grateful that I am pain-free, healthy, and strong, I reflect on the true meaning of health and how I ended up in this wonderful place.

An outsider looking in might say I worked hard in the gym and spent thousands of dollars on treatments and services.

I would simply say that I believed and continue to believe—and that is all.

Four years ago, I was defeated by a diagnosis called Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction. What this means is that abnormalities in the joint which connect the spine to the pelvis were causing pain.

This was the Webster’s definition I needed to describe why I had been suffering for years with low back, hip, and leg pain that prevented me from living—truly living.

When the doctors told me there was no cure, it was the excuse I needed to stay trapped in depression and pain. 

As a stay-at-home mom of two young children, I spent my small amount of free time feeling sorry for myself and taking a variety of pills to cope. I rang in each New Year with a new doctor, physical therapist, and plan that failed before it started.

Sadly, by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around, the hope I placed in others to fix me quickly dimmed to sarcasm and disappointment. The reality was I was getting worse and more depressed with each failed attempt.

It was not until I understood that my focus needed to change that I was able to make the strides I needed to get better.

You see, I was the perfect mom. I felt that my worth came from doing everything for everybody else, in spite of my physical condition. I was a volunteer addict and a perfectionist when it came to everything except me.   

Despite the pain, I made gourmet caliber dinners, and my house was spotless. Every second of my time was committed—on purpose. My phone rang constantly with people wanting my opinion and my help, and I never said no.

Overcommiting myself kept me on a hamster wheel of activity, leaving no time to address my unhealthy, unhappy life and lack of self-worth. It took a significant change to break me loose of this continual circle of self-deprivation.

In June of 2008, after much debate, my husband and I decided to make a move. I was not in favor of this decision, but felt somehow compelled to oblige. And mechanically, as if someone was moving my limbs for me, I packed up and went through the motions of leaving my incredibly involved life behind.

After the excitement wore off, I found myself in a neighborhood where my children and I did not fit in.  And after many failed attempts and closed doors, I was resolved to the fact that we were alone.

I now understand why. It took physical distance from all of my activities and commitments to realize I needed to say yes to myself.

Confused about what brought meaning to my life in a place where I felt unimportant and unneeded, I was forced to turn inward and do some serious soul searching. My body was declining with the stress of the move. The pain had increased, making it difficult to drive, sit for long periods, and do household chores.

By January 2010, it had become apparent to me that I had to prioritize myself. I had to believe that I was worth it and could overcome my physical pain. I threw myself into self-help and inspirational books and blogs. I became intrigued by attracting better health.

Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of my situation, I began to visualize a healthier, stronger me. 

I started stating intentions of physical health and strength, even though I did not believe them at first.  This went beyond the pain, as I also needed to change my negative focus in all areas of my life, including my current living situation.

I strived to stop dwelling on the past and looked for things to be grateful for. I began to appreciate the little things about my new home, like a beautiful path through the woods directly behind my lot.

Once I believed I was ready to heal, all of the resources I needed showed up for me.

  • I was referred to an outstanding Pilates instructor and Personal Trainer who specialized in corrective exercise and changed my life.
  • Instead of using finances as an excuse, I realized that even though the family budget was tight, I was worth spending the money required to improve my health. I made the decision to cut back in other areas to prioritize hiring the help I needed to strengthen my body.
  • Not only was my instructor on board with my new personal beliefs about mind over matter, he referred me to many more spiritual and inspirational sources, that I was more than ready to delve into.
  • My trainer was also the source of many referrals to other professionals that were key in my recovery—an incredible nutritionist, a neurologic chiropractor, and a massage therapist.
  • I was inspired to meditate and try acupuncture, both highly beneficial in relieving my stress, pain, and inflammation.

The combination of these resources was the exact prescription I needed to overcome my physical pain and regain control of my life.

It didn’t take long after I decided to exercise my personal power that my half-hearted intentions transformed into hope, and eventually, strong beliefs.

As I experienced small improvements in the gym, I held on to them so tightly that they became huge successes in my mind. This attitude also helped me to stay focused when I had set backs with pain.

Keeping your mind straight, when it loves to go crooked, takes practice. When the pain returned, I used to think, “Here we go again! I knew this would happen!”

But I saw that my mind exercises were paying off when that changed to, “Oh, I remember this. Look at how far I have come! I am grateful my body recovers and will feel better by tomorrow!”

And it always, always does.

Focusing on what was important required me to let go of my need to be perfect.  

I started by leaving the house in the morning with unmade beds and a few breakfast dishes still in the sink. Now, my house is not perfect and sometimes we have burgers for dinner, without the buns.

I have prioritized spending time on myself which makes me happier and allows me to be more present as a mother, friend, and neighbor. Giving someone a smile, unexpected gift, or uplifting text is far more fulfilling to me than chairing a committee.

And a spontaneous dance session in the kitchen with the kids might make us late for swim lessons, but we laugh a lot more.

Then one day, as I was bounding up the gym stairs for a training session it hit me—I was pain free. Not only that, but I was happy and my true personality had come back. It had been hidden so long under the doubt, sarcasm, sadness, and anger of chronic pain that I believe I forgot who I truly was.

The comfort of being me now over-rides any physical pain or limitation, in all areas of my life. 

Chronic pain is just one mountain to climb. There are so many others.

When you find you are not ascending toward your goals, perhaps looking at your beliefs is the first step to positive change. There is no doubt in my mind that it was for me. Changing your beliefs has the ability to carry you upward, far beyond the summit.

Photo by dari mcmanus

Avatar of Michelle Brooklier Sprinkle

About Michelle Brooklier Sprinkle

Michelle Brooklier Sprinkle is a full-time mom and marketing consultant specializing in the health, wellness, and environmental industries. Michelle loves dance, nature and watersports. Read more about her story here, visit her at startinglinemarketing.com or email her at doveswings33(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

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  • cindy

    Thank you for sharing. Really enjoyed your post.

  • Mheyindubai

    Appreciate this! Lovely! Yoga and meditation plus positive thinking wud b d keywords.

  • http://hubbyshome.com/ David

    Hi Michelle, I’m so glad I read this. So many self-help texts point to the power of visualizing the life you want and highlighting the benefits of gratitude, but few have hard evidence that it works. That you can actually say it’s worked for you is amazingly encouraging.

    It’s great to hear that you’re pain free and enjoying life to the full. Thank you.

  • Vishnu

    thanks for sharing this empowering story:) Visualizations and hope are real entities that can change and improve our lives.  Our beliefs cans be so powerful – interesting how everything improved when your beliefs did!

  • StClairMoriniere

    thanks again for the inspiration. I can always find a way to relate with the posts. I love this site.

  • Michelle

    I am a true believer in the power of thought and gratitude.  Thanks so much for the kind words David! 

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Agreed!  Thank you!

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Agreed!  Thank you!

  • Historyteacher78

    Thank you! Beyond words. I have experienced long periods of awful
    Chronic pain. Thank you for sharing your journey and reminding me to look at the journey as a whole.

  • Jennifer

    This is so beautiful, Michelle. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s incredible to me how powerful the mind is and how we can completely change our lives just by tweaking our thinking a little bit. I love this quote attributed to Gandhi:

    “Your beliefs become your thoughts,
    Your thoughts become your words,
    Your words become your actions,
    Your actions become your habits,
    Your habits become your values,
    Your values become your destiny.”

    We all have it within us to shape our destinies — and you’re living proof. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Thank you for sharing that beautiful quote Jennifer!  I loved it and can apply it directly to my personal experience.  I appreciate your kind words.

  • gradstudent520

    Thanks for sharing! I have a similar story. I spent most of 2010 in and out of the hospital, which culminated in a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease, a chronic autoimmune disorder without a cure. I was devastated, but over time, I found a medication that helped control the inflammation. Over the last two years, I have slowly worked my way toward health. I started with two-minute walks on the treadmill, which would leave me exhausted and sore. Now, I can run 4.25 miles in 40 minutes – the best shape of my life! Between now and then, I’ve had lots of setbacks – small flares or aggravated infections from the immunosuppressants – but I’ve kept returning to my goal of being healthy. This blog is such a good reminder that we are stronger than we think we are – and not just physically. I try to remember that regaining my physical strength is a metaphor for regaining my emotional strength after setbacks (break-ups, intense stress). 

  • gina dewolfe

    As I read this post at work I almost started to cry! I was diagnosed with an “incurable” condition about 9 months ago and was in severe pain and discomfort for most of that time. I had to quit my job and could barely leave my apartment to go to the grocery store. The hardest struggle I faced was turning inward and truely believing that I had the ability to recover, despite what countless doctors had told me. Now I’m able to work, and I’m back to enjoying my life. I worked hard to get to where I am, and I still have a long way to go in my recovery, but I’m grateful for how far I’ve come. My experience has shown me how strong I can be when I have no other choice. Thank you for sharing your story, it provides motivation for me to continue working hard for my health until I make a complete recovery!

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Gina I appreciate you sharing your story as I know it will also inspire others.  You have made such great progress thus far!  Best wishes to you on your journey to full recovery!

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Beautifully put and congratulations on your success!  Overcoming chronic pain has also taught me that I can apply belief, intention and gratitude to making positive changes in all areas of my life.  Physical and emotional strength absolutely go hand-in-hand!

  • Meghan

    Hi Michelle – Thank you so much for your story and for giving me hope.  I am the mother of two young kids and have been experiencing hip/butt/leg/back pain for several years that has kept me from being active the way I used to be and kept me from being able to fully parent my kids the way I would like to.  I have spent a fortune on physio, massage and various alternative therapies with no lasting relief.  Your condition sounds so much like my own.  After many years of searching for solutions I sometimes resign myself to the fact that this is just how my life will be.  But your post has given me hope that things can get better!  I read Tiny Buddha every day but have never posted a comment.  I felt compelled to comment on you post though to say thanks you for sharing your story.  Thanks!!! 

  • Matt-k

    So good ;-)

    I hope others who may be experiencing any unwanted condition will be uplifted by this beautiful story!!!

    And if anyone is feeling trapped and wondering where to begin, start by
    ask yourself “Whose body is it?”
    If the answer is “My body!”, then know that your body serves you and not the other way around. YOU get to decide how YOU feel!

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Thanks Matt-k! Your comment was so good. ;-)  It feels great to be back in control of my body, which I believe starts in the mind.  Its amazing what you can achieve when you combine the powers of thought and emotion.  Instead of looking for problems, I am choosing to feel love for my body.  And it continues to get stronger every day.

  • Michelle Sprinkle

    Meghan – It was so great talking with you today!  Please keep me posted on your journey to conquering pain in your life!  I know you can do this! 

    My previous reply was deleted, so I am re-posted a link to my story that details the resources I used to overcome chronic pain, just in case it will help other readers:  http://experiencelife.com/article/getting-past-chronic-pain-michelle-sprinkles-success-story/