Flare of Negativity

It feels like my abdomen is an overfull balloon. It is puffed up and out and uncomfortably tight.

I’ve come home after eating dinner at a friend’s house, and I can tell by the way my guts are reacting that I shouldn’t have eaten what I did. The soup my friend made didn’t have any particular known triggers for me, but it WAS extremely spicy. I generally like spicy food, but as we all know, too much of a good thing is just not a good thing. And now I’m feeling the burn and churn in my guts.


Why did I eat it??? I’m questioning myself. My friend had invited me over, and I wanted to be a good guest. But the question of Why is going deeper. Why did I do this? Why can’t my body handle this? Why I am like this? Why do I have to feel so much pain? And how can I make it stop?

Have you ever noticed that when you get a flare of IBS symptoms, it seems to flare up the negativity in your mind, too?

I recognized the questioning was leading to a not-helpful place. The critical voice in my head was beginning to beat me up for what I had done as well as every other mistake I had ever made. Ever.

Questioning to discover something new or understand something can be good to bring our awareness to our actions or the motivation behind them. But questioning to the point of self-torture and then feeling like a victim doesn’t help solve anything.


The fact was, I couldn’t change what had happened. It was already done, and my intestines were very clearly making their opinion heard. Other than avoiding the trigger in the future, all I could do was switch to having compassion for myself in the present and trying to make my body as comfortable as possible.

I sat on the couch for a while, and my cat Elsie came and sat on my lap. (That always helps me feel a little better)

I thought about what I could do now – and I’ll be honest, my inner critic still wanted to berate me. I had to pull my attention back to the present more than once.

I decided to make a cup of peppermint tea. Sometimes that helps calm my digestion. Perhaps it’s just the placebo effect, but making a cup of tea for myself sounded like compassion.

Negative thinking has been shown to have a negative effect on our health. Now, I’m not one to paint rosy pictures of thoughts and pretend the bad stuff isn’t happening. I don’t think putting your head in the sand and ignoring things fixes anything. However, I believe it’s an act of self-love to switch from the negative self-talk to having compassion for one’s self.

The next time you have a flare, notice what your thoughts are. Are they supportive to you or not? Are they helping the current situation or not? And if not, what can you do differently?

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