Do you want to be the way you are NOW for the rest of your life? Let’s talk Epigenetics
Updated: Mar 22, 2021
When you study psychology you are given diagnostic and statistical manuals to help classify certain mental disorders. Many therapists believe that once a classification is given and a diagnosis solidified, that diagnosis is what the patient shall remain for the rest of their life. I was having a conversation recently with a psychologist I respect immensely. He believes that this concept is, and I quote, "a load of hogwash." And I agree.
Our brains and bodies are ever changing as is the information we learn about them. Let’s take epigenetics, for example. Epigenetics is a term that has been around since the 1940s, but over decades of research it has taken on a whole new meaning. At this point in time epigenetics has come to widely be known as how our environment effects our gene expression.
For example: Let’s say we have a pair of identical twins. Both are diagnosed with Asperger's. One twin is enrolled in sports and begins to spend his time surrounded by other kids who are focused on health, growth, and team work. By association this twin starts to learn how to socialize, how to take care of his physical health, and little by little the Asperger's qualities that used to be so prevalent fall into the background. So much so that when he sees a new psychologist heading into college he is given a new classification and it is decided he does not have Asperger’s at all. This twin goes on to get a degree, a career, and forms solid friendships with others interested in his same passions and hobbies. He is living a fulfilling, self sustainable life!
The other twin, on the other hand, does not grow up in the same way. This twin is coddled by his mother and protected from the outside world. When a tantrum occurs he is not corrected because the mother has decided he cannont help his actions because of his diagnosis. With his behavior enabled, his symptoms only become more prevalent to the point where he is difficult to live with. Though genetically he is identical to his brother, his gene expression leans further into Asperger's syndrome rather than moving away from it. He never goes to college, cannot hold down a job to support himself, and has trouble making solid, lasting friendships due to his behaviors and lack of interest in socialization.
As shown in this example, something as simple as a growth based environment vs an enabling environment can have drastic effects on identical genes. And this is something I have seen first hand many times, not only with twins, but with individuals. Change the environment, change the limiting beliefs often associated with a diagnosis, and just watch the changes begin to happen; changes most "rational" people would think to be impossible.
One woman in particular has my favorite story to share as she is more and more turning the impossible into the possible. I had the pleasure of meeting her through my husband when she started working with him on her weight loss journey. I came to find out that she had Asperger’s with a bipolar comorbidity and was on a slew of different medications, including one for insulin resistance. After starting to work with my husband and myself in tandem, her window of opportunity for change was opened. She committed to herself and she committed to growth. Now, over 100lbs down and off of all her medications, this woman has become a force to be reckoned with. When I first met her she had trouble opening up and making eye contact. She was stuck in a loop of limiting beliefs that, because of her diagnosis, she could not achieve the lifestyle of her dreams. Now she looks people in the eye with confidence, shares her story, socializes with the brightest smile, and is helping others do the same as her new full time career. And she did this herself. Sure, she had and continues to have our guidance every step of the way, but she broke the barrier and began to resequence her genes. She tapped in, like I did, to the supernatural world of epigenetics.
I first began the study of epigenetics when I made the decision to become a health coach back in 2018. At the time I found unbounded excitement in this topic as it was something I had already begun to do for myself! Now I additionally had the terminology and decades of scientific study backing what I simply stumbled upon in my journey of self discovery. This knowledge gave me confidence to move forward without doubt that what I was doing was what was best for my future.
The change started for me when I was given a window of opportunity after a bad break up, being without work, and finding myself on the brink of moving back in with my parents because I could no longer afford to live on my own. At this point I had a decision to make. I could fall deep into my depression, move back in with my parents, rely on them financially for the foreseeable future, and become a huge disappointment to my entire family [but mainly to myself]. OR I could make a change. As I have expressed in previous entries, I am not sure if it was by the grace of God, the most productive mania I ever experienced, or a combination of both that I was able to take the opportunity set in front of me as a moment to make positive change in my life. But I did just that.
I started with reading. I have to preface, I had never been a reader up to this point. I had only read about 6 books all the way through in my entire life and had otherwise managed to get through my schooling by becoming an expert at cliff notes. So the fact that I have now become an avid reader with dozens of books under my belt, each book read multiple times, is a HUGE feat in and of itself!
Then I started running again, something I had avoided since my knee injuries in highschool but now brings me a pain free sense of calm.
I began every morning with a short meditation, which took practice and certainly did not come naturally to me.
I learned how, what, and when to feed my body to optimize my physical and mental wellness. Prior to this