The great motivational speaker Les Brown once said “The hardest part is getting the person to be an active participant in their own recovery.” As a healthcare provider, I’m faced with this dogging anathema regularly. People want health, but are unwilling to do the work and invest in themselves enough to obtain and maintain it.
Participating in our local community is very important to me and our chiropractic office regularly attends dozens of community events every year, from health fairs to senior expos. Consistently, a regular occurrence during these events are those looking for solutions to the near limitless potential problems that ail the average individual. I probably speak, at least briefly, with thousands of separate individuals at each of the multitude of venues we associate with annually. Of issue, is how few of those people are actually willing to pursue any form of solution to their problem.
Recently, we attended a wellness expo for the local school district. We performed nearly 60 screenings in a single morning, evaluating the attendees for muscular and postural issues. Most of the people I consulted with during the screening were suffering from various conditions, often for years. Most had also “learned to live with it.” What always continues to surprise me about these events is that a person can list a litany of ailments but how very few will actually take any further action to correct them, even when a solution is presented to them. Often, I can offer my confidence that we may have the potential solution they’re looking for to significantly improve or even resolve their issue, yet the person will refuse any additional commitment to being health. My observation is that they are more content in their illness than in the potential to be well.
This is a phenomenon I have seen in broad ranges of patients in all avenues of care. From the person who won’t commit to beginning care to the person who does not follow through with their treatment to completion, there seems to be a generalized non-committal attitude toward being well. I think that even if I could promise a free guaranteed 100% cure, many people would still turn it down. Now, I don’t promise cure and nothing is guaranteed, but you get the point. Many people are unwilling to invest in their own recovery. Why? The answer is fear.
I once heard someone say that F.E.A.R is False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear holds people back. It keeps the greatness of individuals trapped inside them so they never realize their full potential. The same is true of health. You have an amazing healing potential. The question that should be asked is fear preventing you from living up to your full health ability? Is fear limiting your willingness to try alternative treatment options? Is fear stealing your hope?
Fear with regard to health manifests itself in many ways. Fear is a pernicious multifaceted beast that prevents many from realizing wellness. Do any of these describe you?
1. Fear of commitment – Health will never be handed to you on a silver platter. Health is something you must commit to. Health isn’t a matter of happenstance or occurrence by chance of fate. Being healthy is a matter of deliberate intention. Being healthy requires a time investment. You have to invest in time to exercise, time to pick the right foods, time to take care of your spine, and time to manage your stress. The excuse that “I’m to busy” is just that…an excuse. You have to have health as a priority.
Committing to a lifestyle change that includes healthy choices forces you out of your comfort zone. Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Too often, unfortunately, a person will wait indefinitely to magically get well. As the old saying goes, “If your ship doesn’t come in, you may have to row out and meet it.” If you’ve been waiting indefinitely to get better, you’ll ultimately have to come to the realization that change may be your only solution. Change can be uncomfortable but, in my experience, more often change can be extremely fulfilling. Let go of your unrealized fear and make a commitment now to change.
2. Fear of trying something new – If the solutions you’ve always done aren’t working for you, why are you still doing them. It always fascinates me when I talk to a patient who has had back pain for years and has been doing the same interventions they have always tried but they don’t get any better, at least not in any meaningful way. Again, change can be uncomfortable but fear may be preventing you from growing and improving for lack of trying. William Shakespeare has said “Our doubts make us traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” Maybe the solution you need is out there. You just haven’t found it because fear has prevented you from even trying anything outside your self imposed comfort zone. What solutions have you eliminated, not because they didn’t work, but because you were too afraid to try them in the first place?
3. Fear of financial expenditure – Of course, in our current economy, this can be a very real fear. Many people are afraid to commit to being healthy because they feel it may be a bad investment. They’re afraid of sending for their health but not getting a likewise return. Well, let me tell you, being sick is a lot more expensive than being healthy. You have to look at your health as an investment for your future. A little time and money invested now may save a literal fortune later.
I understand that money can be a touchy subject for a lot of people but, like a time commitment, my experience has shown me that money is truly less of a mitigating factor than priorities. Frequently, we’ll see patients in our office who, once they calculate an estimated cost of their care plan, claim poverty and will completely discontinue care for financial reasons. Too often however, I’ve found that these same people drive a $50,000 Mercedes, have a personal trainer or a cleaning lady, or even recently remodeled their house. For them, health is just not a priority. Their luxury lifestyle is more important and it may eventually cost hem their health. Do you have your priorities straight?
4. Fear of hope – One of the things I am seeing more and more often at some of the events we work, and with many new patients who present to our office, is a loss of hope. Many have been told they are destined to live with pain or disease for the rest of their life. Many have been told that they are fated for illness or that sickness is inevitable for them. In my opinion, there is no greater disservice done to a person than to steal that person’s hope.
There is always hope for any condition or disease. I don’t think there is a condition out there that doesn’t have a documented case of a miraculous recovery. Too frequently, I’ve seen people with reversible conditions completely give up on the ability to be well because someone foolishly told them it can’t be done. Just because someone says it can’t be done doesn’t make it true. Obviously, there are no guarantees in life and you shouldn’t expect or believe absolutes but that doesn’t mean you should give up. It’s heartbreaking for me to talk to a person who has a condition that we can most likely help, only to have them never commit to wellness because they’ve had their hope stolen from them. Don’t give up! Become the inspired healthy individual you were meant to be!
Ask yourself, are you even willing to get well? Are you willing to commit to you? My experience has shown me that, more often than not, the answer is no. That’s why only about 8% of the population will ever see a chiropractor. That’s why less than 25% of people have a regular exercise regimen. It’s why so few people take vitamins. It’s why fast food is a multibillion dollar industry. It’s why prescription drug sales are on the rise yet, according to the World Health Organization, we’re 37th as a nation in general health. Unfortunately, my experience is that people expect health but reject commitment but you can’t have one without the other.
No one will ever care more about you than you. To that end, no one can force you to be well. Being healthy is a choice. What you have to decide is whether you can move past your fear and commit to being the amazing, inspiring, and unstoppable individual you were built to be.
There is an old expression that describes contentment as “sitting fat and happy.” Our modern lifestyle seems geared toward having both, often at the expense of your health and longevity. While the United States has one of the most sophisticated healthcare delivery systems in the world, we rank 37th in overall health according to the World Health Organization. Why is that?
Look around you. We live in an age that is designed to sabotage our health. Cheap, poor quality food is readily available at every turn. Our jobs are slowly moving away from physical labor toward a computer driven economy that inhibits exercise. We even have moving sidewalks. So, the question becomes is “sitting fat and happy” the picture you had for your life?
Let’s look at the results of a sedentary lifestyle. There are endless known effects of lack of exercise and poor diet, including:
1. Increased risk of heart disease
2. Increased risk of diabetes
3. Increased risk of cancer
4. Increased risk of stroke
5. Decreases immune system
6. Sleep difficulty
8. Digestive problems
9. Decreased life expectancy
10. General decline in health
The “fat and happy” lifestyle is a recipe for disaster. While you may enjoy temporary satisfaction, you are setting yourself up for long-term failure.
Unfortunately, many people are led to believe that being healthy is out of their reach. They’ve been told that illness is just inevitable and they are destined to suffer the rest of their life with some form of chronic infirmity. Worse, many of the people telling them this are the very people they trust with their health decisions.
The truth is exactly the opposite and you have more power than you know. Being healthy is a choice as much as being sick is your decision. Your body is a self healing machine and functions optimally with adequate fuel and proper maintenance. Further, where you are in your health right now is more likely a reflection of the decisions you have made up to that point rather than an accident of genetics or fate. The biggest detriment to being healthy may be you. Lack of exercise, poor diet, high amounts of stress, and poor nervous system health all contribute to a decline in your overall well being.
If we’re told that as we age getting sick is normal, does that make the 90 year old healthy individual on no medications abnormal? When did sick become the new normal? Where you are in your health is a product of the choices you make, a cause and effect. If you choose to exercise or not, there will be an effect. If you choose to eat junk food or vegetables, there will be an effect. If you are able to manage your stress or not, there will be an effect…and so on.
Disease does not occur in a vacuum. It’s the deliberate result of years of poor decisions and neglect…years of “sitting fat and happy.” You need to understand that the decisions you make now about your health may determine whether you spend the later years of your life sick and tired or fit and healthy. The decisions you make now may even shorten or prolong your life.
Even if you are sick, there are ways to restore your health. No, taking ibuprofen for pain, an acid reducer for acid reflux, or an antibiotic for a sinus infection does not make you healthy. You can’t get health from chemicals in a bottle. Medications are only designed to alter body functions in order to manage a disease process…cause and effect. They are not vital nutrients. In other words, you’re still “fat” (or, more appropriately, sick) but at least you’re happy. Health can only come from one place…from inside you. The decision you have to make is whether you are willing to make the good decisions to take care of yourself as an insurance policy for your future.
The ironic thing about health is that most people know what they need to do to be healthy. They know they need to stop eating the junk. They know they need to eat more fruits and vegetables. They know they need to get more exercise. They know they should take care of their spines. Many of the patients I talk to even know that the medications they take are not the solution they are looking for. Still, they choose not to do anything about being well and prefer to live “fat and happy.”
Each day is a new cross-road in your life. Each day, you have the option to take care of yourself or not. Keep in mind that every day you choose not to act builds upon the next. Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself whether you are going to live each day “fat and happy” or fit and healthy.