Guest post: Not ready for brain retraining? 5 simple mindset shifts in the meantime

Casey Murdoch Rodowicz

Casey Murdoch Rodowicz

I’m Casey, a writer and plant enthusiast from California. (Keeping those plants alive is another story!) In my recovery journey, I’ve found so much personal growth amidst the hardships. I hope that as a community we can all come together and lift each other up.

Not ready for brain retraining? Here are 5 low-pressure mindset shifts in the meantime.

Hey, friend. 

If you’re here, you’ve heard alllll about brain retraining — and the miraculous recovery stories that come with it. 

As enticing as it sounds, you’re just not ready yet. Maybe you feel resistant. Or scared. Or guilty, because you feel like you *should* be ready. But you can’t seem to take that first step.

I get it. I’m Casey, and I’ve been working on recovering from Chronic Fatigue and Lyme for the last few years.

While I’m now far along in my recovery, I know what it feels like to not be able to get off the couch or barely make it up the stairs. Be fatigued and exhausted by the simplest tasks. 

And when I first heard about brain retraining, it took me a full year to finally start putting it into practice. And I can honestly say it was the perfect timing for me. While it may not take that long for you, feeling resistant to start is totally normal.

Throughout that year, I learned 5 mindset shifts that made a massive difference. They took a lot of inner reflection and growth to realize. So if any of them feel out of your reach right now, or they don’t work for your situation, that’s completely okay. 

This is simply my experience. And I’m sharing the lessons I’ve learned so that maybe they can help you, too. 

At the end of the day? I want to be a friend to you, who can reach through the screen and tell you it’s okay.

You can take the pressure off. 
Release the shame. 
And instead, feel confident 
that you are exactly where
you need to be in 
your unique recovery journey. 

1. You have permission to feel your feelings. All of them. 

That includes the messy ones, such as feeling like a victim or resistance. 

Yep. I’m telling you it’s okay to feel like a victim — because you need to release those emotions to process them. 

This isn’t about ruminating unnecessarily. The key is you have to feel it first before you can move forward.

I wrote down what I was thinking every two hours for a week. And you know what I found? I was telling myself what I should be feeling and should be doing… constantly. 

I never gave myself permission to feel. Ever. And once I did, it was like a massive weight lifted off my soul. 

I believe having a victor mindset and embracing the hero’s journey is critical to recovery. But I’d suppressed my emotions for so long, I was stuck. And telling myself to feel victorious, yet stuffing my real emotions, made me angry. It didn’t feel right — it felt inhuman. 

And the truth is, 
whatever the emotion is, 
if you don’t release it, 
you can’t heal it 
and move forward.

As humans, we’re meant to feel. Harvard Health explains that emotional tears flush stress hormones and release endorphins. Those feel-good chemicals help ease both physical and emotional pain.[1]

That being said, if any emotions are too triggering, step back. Wait until your nervous system is ready and/or work with a professional.

Your negative emotions usually have sensible reasons behind them, like a prior hurtful experience.

That’s why releasing your emotions 
and validating the reason you’re 
reacting that way is so important. 

As well as responding to yourself with kindness, which is the next mindset shift.

Disclaimer: Most of our unpleasant emotions have a root that makes sense. But I’m not saying acting on them is always wise. Anger, for example, usually comes from hurt or pain. But it’s not always a great idea to speak in anger or act in ways that are harmful to another person, ever. I’m simply talking about your internal dialogue and moving through emotions. 

2. Develop awareness of your thought patterns, and learn to turn to yourself with compassion.

When you tune into your feelings and thought patterns, there can be more shaming. More fear. 

I know there was for me. It wasn’t only that I *shouldn’t* feel that way —  I also felt like a failure for it. 

But here’s the thing. As I mentioned in the first point, behind every emotion lies a reason that often makes sense.

Our brains are wired for survival. And our thought patterns develop to help us navigate the world and stay safe. Our nervous system did this from a protective, kind place. 

This is creating a new relationship with yourself. When you feel emotions, you can notice them with non-judgmental curiosity.  

So when you have thoughts that sound like:

  • I’m angry about what I’ve missed out on.
  • I’m fearful of having a dip.
  • I’m resistant to brain retraining and frustrated with myself.
  • I’m aware of how negative thoughts are stressful on my body and I feel like I’m not able to stop them.

Those are real emotions and it makes total sense why you feel that way. They are 100% valid. 

Sit with the emotion you feel. Notice it. Then get curious about it. Why is it there? Did you have a past hurtful experience, or is there an underlying emotion? Then turn to yourself and validate what you’re feeling.

It might look something like this: “I’m frustrated that I’m not ready for brain retraining yet. This makes complete and total sense. I’ve missed out on a lot when I haven’t been well, and it’s like my life has been turned upside down. I want to be ready now. I’m afraid, and I don’t want to keep feeling unwell. Of course I would feel this way.” 

I know it sounds simple, but it makes such a difference. 

Even without solutions yet, developing this awareness and validating yourself can help. 

You’ll have a kinder, more compassionate relationship with your nervous system. This alone is a key component of rewiring.

And once you start, you may notice it’s easier to process your emotions and shift into a different way of thinking… without even trying.

3. You can learn about the nervous system, without trying to change anything yet. 

If you need answers to your questions before you start, then honor that. 

The entire goal of brain retraining is to help your nervous system shift into a place of safety. So if you need more information to feel confident, then you are accomplishing that.

Learning to not rush, and instead honor what you intuitively need, is big in brain rewiring work. By doing so, you’re working with your nervous system.

By slowing down and learning, you’re helping yourself heal and grow. 

This one was huge for me. I learned a ton. Like how my brain was in fight or flight subconsciously, out of my control. That it was often based on trauma, and it didn’t invalidate my physical symptoms. And the amazing power of our thoughts and subconscious mind.

You can let all the information sink in. Learn without the pressure to act.

Listen to recovery stories and podcasts. Seek out the answers to your questions. If you’re feeling resistance, ask yourself why — and see if there are any answers out there. 

Let yourself be on a journey. 
You don’t need to act right now.
This can instead be your time 
to learn, and that’s okay.

Here are some of my favorite resources to learn more: 

You never know what you’ll learn. It might be exactly what you needed with where you’re at in your journey.

4. It’s ok to feel dips, flares, or symptoms. It doesn’t mean you’re not healing. 

Once I had more awareness of my thoughts, I noticed that when I had symptoms, I felt sad. Sad about things like:

  • I couldn’t do what I wanted to.
  • I felt like I wasn’t better yet.
  • I couldn’t rest if I was working.

And yes, those emotions are totally, completely valid. 100%. And I still feel them from time to time. 

But one day, this idea popped into my mind, and it stuck.

Well, when I have symptoms, I’m on one of those down zig-zags. At least that’s what it feels like… a little down. Or a lot. And I literally imagine myself, my face, like a little bobblehead on that down zig-zag, having a great time. (Yes I know it sounds cheesy, but it works!)

I’m still on the path to healing. The arrow is still going up at the end. My story isn’t over, and this moment is part of my healing process. My recovery is coming, even if it’s not here yet. 

The good things at recovery are still going to be there. And there are good things now, too, even when it’s hard. 

You can know this because of how committed you are to your healing. You’re willing to put in the work. And you’re doing your very best to get there. 

5. Every little daily action adds up, even if it feels insignificant. And they create unstoppable momentum.

There’s no need to make huge changes overnight.

Consistent steps, no matter how small, 
make an incredible difference. 

I’ve been re-reading one of my favorite books, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. He explains how success is built upon small, consistent habits, done day in and day out. These little, simple things, when done every day, create massive success.

“Any time you see what looks like a breakthrough, it is always the end result of a long series of little things, done consistently over time.” – Jeff Olson

That applies to your recovery — even if you’re not brain retraining yet. When you’re giving yourself permission to feel? Developing more awareness of your thought patterns? Yep, you’re making a real dent in your healing.

You’re doing the same each day when you work on sleep, get sunshine, practice gratitude, or do anything else you’re working on.

Olson explains that when you’re doing these things, they don’t feel amazing. They feel small. Insignificant.

But that’s where the magic is. Because those small, persistent actions are what will add up.

And yes, contribute to living your life in recovery. It’s only a matter of time.

It’s okay to not be ready yet. You’ll get there.

When there’s so much hype about brain retraining, it’s easy to feel like a failure for not being ready. I get it… I’ve been there, too.

But after going through a full year before jumping in, I learned that it wasn’t wasted time. It’s what my body and nervous system needed. 

And these mindset shifts made a massive difference. I truly believe they prepared me for success once I did start rewiring.

And maybe for you, it won’t take a year. Maybe you’ll be ready much sooner than I was.

The point is to give yourself grace and space for what your body needs… Not rushing it. 

My hope for you reading this is that you’d feel some pressure lift. Breathe a sigh of relief. And feel confident to start brain retraining on your own timeline, when it’s right for you and your healing journey.

Two final points to add:

  • Working with a coach is invaluable. This is what helped me fully dive in. Once you’re feeling less resistance, I would highly suggest getting support and not doing it on your own. 
  • Trust your gut and go with the program that feels right for you. Usually, that intuition is spot on. And if you’re still concerned, Liz has a wonderful program guide available as well. Both strategies can help reduce any overwhelm once you’re making a decision. 

Cheering you on, friend. Don’t lose hope.

Recovery is possible for you — even when you don’t feel like it. 

In your corner,


You can reach Casey through her Instagram @casey.rodowicz.

If you’d like practical and uplifting health recovery information, please sign up for our newsletter below. This blog is not medical advice nor meant to contradict what you have discovered yourself to be true. 

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