Adapted from Chapter 17, Sick Bitch: Some of It’s In Your Head, from The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

When you get a bad diagnosis, it’s natural to feel fearful, depressed and angry. The Bitch fosters these feelings and tries to keep you imagining bad outcomes.

Then she adds guilt, saying that you caused the illness, either by something you did or didn’t do – or because your personality made you prone to the disease. Shut “her” up by using these Bitch-busting approaches:

1. No fear or forgetting

Doctors tell me they have too many patients who either minimize their diagnosis or turn it into a catastrophe. Catastrophizers get so panicky and upset that they forget to follow doctors’ orders. On the other hand, minimizers disregard the need to follow doctors’ orders too. Be the kind of patient all doctors long for: take care of your health without letting the Sick Bitch make you hysterical. If something is wrong, have it treated and get on with your life.

2. No self-blame

Whether your problem is a sexually transmitted disease or lung cancer, it does no good to let The Bitch roast you with self-blame. Even if your risky behavior caused the problem, that train has left the station. You can’t go back and change it. But you can control your behavior going forward: follow doctor’s orders and be more self-protective way in the future.

3. Be as positive as possible

A positive attitude won’t cure you, but it will make life more enjoyable. Whether or not you have a bad diagnosis, it is important to feel like you are “really living” every day. Give yourself daily fun and treats to counteract fear and pain. Create a “bucket list” of things you want to see and do in your life, and have fun imagining yourself doing each thing.

What to do

Don’t hang out with people who make you afraid or upset. Find positive role models who have wrestled with your illness in a way you admire, and copy their Bitch-defeating approaches to sickness and health.

To learn more, go to www.thebitchinyourhead.com. And help others by passing this along. And post a picture of you with The Bitch on Facebook!