I spoke with a potential coaching client yesterday and one thing struck me. This person sitting in front of me had no understanding of the idea of self-trust.
The gentleman was suffering from multiple health concerns. Over the course of our 90 minute conversation, he mentioned several times that he was unhappy with the care and advice he was receiving from his medical team. He told me that the people managing his care weren’t taking his views into account. He said that he believed many of his current health challenges could be improved by changing his diet, adding supplement, and taking herbs. Then he followed that up with the phrase, “but my doctors won’t let me try that.”
I responded by pointing out that he didn’t need anybody’s permission or approval to change his diet. (Except maybe his wife’s, depending on which of them does most of the cooking). He went on to tell me that when he tried to talk about diet changes with his physician, she was less than supportive. He said that the doctor criticized every piece of research he had brought to share with her. The end result was that he walked away from the appointment feeling stupid.
The sad thing is that this isn’t a common problem. A lot of doctors seem to have the attitude that if they didn’t learn it in medical school, it’s not valid. They also seem to believe they have to present themselves as the absolute authority on health. Very few practicing doctors seem to be open to the idea that new research, especially when that research comes from a patient.
Of course, most doctors are taught to look at pharmaceutical drugs as the only answer to health complaints. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or trouble sleeping, most doctors write you a prescription for drugs rather than suggest diet and lifestyle changes, herbs or supplements.
It’s not necessarily their fault. They were trained to be closed minded, and authoritarian. And the American public not only allows it, but encourages it.
How many people tell their doctors they are wrong? How many patients insist their physician learn about nutrition, or herbs, or lifestyle changes? How many people are tolerant of a doctor who freely admits to not knowing?
In truth, not many.
Whether that’s because people want an easy and quick fix to health issues, or because the general population has been “trained” to accept, expect and even demand authority figures, or if there’s some other reason is a matter of huge debate. One that I won’t get into here.
However, I believe that the first step in changing our health system lies in personal responsibility. To be proactive in your health means to take responsibility for your health. It means to read the latest research and do those things which promote health and mental wellness. It means making your own informed decisions, following through on those decisions and making adjustments to your plan as data and circumstances develop.
It also means trusting yourself to make those informed decisions, which is something my potential client didn’t do. He had done a lot of reading about his health challenges, and had come to the conclusion that he could improve his overall health and wellness with some simple diet changes. Instead of simply acting on what he believed, he looked for validation from someone he saw as an authority figure.
It’s something we all do — we all seek validation, and acceptance for our decisions. However, each of us needs to trust our own intuition as well.
The Biblical story of Noah comes to mind here. What would have happened to humanity if Noah listened to the naysayers telling him he was a fool for building the ark? What if they had managed to shake Noah’s confidence in himself and his God? Noah believed in his God, and by extension his own judgment.
The same applies when evaluating possible medical care. It’s up to YOU to decide what is best for you. Research, learn all you can, and then make the choices that feel right to you.
Nobody is responsible for your health outcomes, except you.