Tell us about your experiences with weight management. Take our survey!

Reflect On Your Successes – An Unexpectedly Powerful Strategy

Over the years I’ve learned many strategies for controlling my IBS. Most of them revolve around removing potential triggers, which of course is very important to prevent symptoms from starting. But some of the more effective strategies are mental ones, including this simple one that I want to share with you.

It’s too easy to focus on what could go wrong

No matter how many people I talk to about their IBS, one thing that always crops up is a fear of experiencing IBS symptoms around other people. No one wants to be embarrassed by their IBS symptoms and they definitely don’t want to be judged because of them. It’s this fear that often stops people with IBS from socializing or participating in situations that could possibly result in embarrassment.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

But the fact is that while these situations do unfortunately occur, there are still many times when they don’t occur. The catch is that with IBS, we tend to focus on the bad times more than the good times because it helps to prevent embarrassing situations in the future. As a result, we often forget that it’s possible for us to do many things without our IBS being a problem.

But you can use the strategy of reflection to help you learn from the good times

Reflection is a process where we stop and think about something, or reflect on it, so that we can learn from it. With IBS, you can use reflection to consider the times when your IBS wasn’t triggered and see if there was anything specific that you did that stopped your symptoms from flaring up.

Let’s look at an example… say you were going out for the day and needed to eat something while you were out. Maybe in the past you’ve bought food while you were out and got sick. But maybe this time around you made it through the day without getting sick and this was because you ate safe snacks that you took with you. So what you can learn from this is that your IBS is less likely to be triggered if you can control the food that you eat.

But you’ll only learn from the good times if you stop and reflect on them to work out what the difference was and why it helped you. Then once you’ve done that, you can use this information to decide how to deal with similar situations in the future.

Here’s how you can use this strategy to help your IBS

Reflection is best used for times when you expected that things wouldn’t work out well, yet they did work out okay. This is because these are the situations that you’ve learned to associate with disaster, but that don’t always have to be.

So after you’ve experienced a situation that turned out well, or better than you expected, take a few minutes to sit down and reflect. You want to think about:

  • What was the situation you were in and why did you think it would be a problem for you?
  • What type of symptoms (if any) did you experience and how did this compare to what you were expecting to experience?
  • What actions did you take to prevent problems from occurring and which of actions do you think actually worked for you?
  • Was there anything that someone else did that may have stopped your symptoms from being triggered?

Once you’ve done this, make a note of the strategies that were most helpful. Write them down so that next time you’re doing something similar, you can check your notes for which actions to take. Gradually you’ll learn that these situations don’t have to be a disaster and you’ll stop fearing them because you know how to handle them.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.