A few weeks ago I learned of the passing of a beloved high school teacher after having a massive heart attack at the age of 63. He had an uncanny ability of reaching every single student and engaging each of us in the classroom.
I also learned a distant cousin took her own life recently. Family had rallied around her to support her when she became the primary caretaker of her two autistic grandsons after her own daughter died.
Then, I got a call from my hairdresser saying she was just starting to come back to work after having a sudden complete hysterectomy because they believed she had cancer.
I could still hear the fear and trauma in her voice.
I may have cried a few times. Yes, for the loss of life, but also for how far we have gone in losing sight for how to believe in ourselves. Too often, we get to a point and we think there is no way out or the only way out is too big of a mountain, so we give up.
The thing is, I don’t think we even realize we’ve given up. We just stop trying. I see two beliefs that have thrown us off track:
We Have Little Control Over Our Own Health
Our culture, our society and most definitely our healthcare system have taught us we have little control over our own health. Our bodies seem to need endless medications and surgeries to prop ourselves up to keep going. We don’t honor the system we were given. We don’t honor the innate intelligence within our body to find balance, to find healing. We aren’t even taught how to listen to our bodies’ symptoms and signals. Instead, we are taught to pop pills to cover each ‘unwanted’ symptom as if it were just a nuisance. We aren’t taught what symptoms really are, a method of communication.
The truth is, our bodies kinda like surviving. In fact, there are many systems in place to keep things in a very stable homeostasis. When our body does start talking to us through various symptoms, it means the body is no longer able to stabilize things on its own. It needs help and it’s asking for it.
Health is Hard.
“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want,
drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”
We believe health has to be difficult, tasteless, painful, time-consuming and absolutely NO FUN. From the banishment of fats in the 80’s and 90’s, which made everything taste like cardboard, to our never-ending schedules of today it really isn’t all that difficult to understand how we got here. What health looks like and feels like is now a foreign concept. And, anything foreign just sounds hard.
How do we help ourselves regain our power to heal?
If we have been stuck in this mindset that we can’t heal, or don’t want to do the work to heal, or whatever component it is that you are stuck with, how do we work around that? Working on our own mindset around our health, is the very first step to make change. Shifting our mindset can be a big hurdle, but it might be more easily overcome than you realize.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Making changes for better health doesn’t have to be revolutionary, it just needs to be deliberate. Start with one thing you can do today and keep at it for a week. You don’t even have to pick the thing you loathe doing. You just have to pick something you know will move you forward and you can commit to doing it relatively consistently. It can even be as small as doing a power pose for two minutes a day.
One of my favorite TED talks is by Amy Cuddy, Ph.D. titled “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” After an incredible healing journey of her own, she became a Social Psychologist who has focused her research on body language and how it influences your own physiology.
Did you catch that? Your body language influences your physiology.
Amy Cuddy found that by taking two minutes a day in a private space and standing in a high-power pose (I prefer Wonder Woman, personally) you can begin to change your mindset and your physiology. Through her research she found power poses could literally change the balance of your hormones within your body. By re-informing your physiology, you feel more powerful, confident and grounded which in turn shifts how you interact with your environment.
If by simply doing a power pose for two minutes a day can have such profound effects on your mindset and physiology, then doing one small change for your health can also offer profound benefits. I think more often than not, we fear we have to change everything to get healthy. Then we get overwhelmed and then we never even begin. But, that isn’t the case.
Small steps really do offer big rewards. You may not believe it, but fake it. Pretend you believe it and start by taking the first small step forward. I understand the challenge with getting back in the habit of taking care of you. It’s easy to slip out of the routine and it can feel monumental to try to get back to it. It really doesn’t have to be so hard. Self-care can be as simple as taking two minutes, right now, and imitating Wonder Woman.
Now I want to hear from you, what is one thing you can do today, to get you back on the path towards health? Share in the comments below!