You have a choice. You always have a choice.
Get some work done or binge-watch House of Cards? Go out with friends or stay in with your sweetie? Marry the guy or not? Fries or salad?
Do you realize you also have a choice when it comes to your health and well-being?
If the doctor tells you to take a certain medication or the naturopath gives you a list of supplements or your Chinese herbalist tells you to lay off the coffee and sugar, it’s up to you whether or not you do it.
On a certain level, it’s wise to go ahead and follow what they suggest. You’ve gone to whichever practitioner for help, so you do as they ask, trusting their expertise. It’s what you were seeking in the first place.
What’s not so great is if you’re following any of those suggestions blindly, without understanding what it’s for. (Yes, I do know people who pop pills daily because the doctor told them to, yet have no idea why.) It’s a bad idea to give all your power to the health care provider.
Then again, maybe that can be to your advantage, so you have someone to blame if things don’t work out as you’d expected. (She said in a snarky tone.)
You have a choice.
It’s your right.
It’s your responsibility.
When you follow suggestions and prescriptions blindly, you’re handing over more than your power; you’re giving away all responsibility for your own body and health.
The doctor, the naturopath, the Chinese practitioner is there to gather information and provide solutions according to what they know. All they can do is offer the help. I see myself as the lamplighter, illuminating a certain path. It’s up to you to take the steps, to follow the path…or not.
Responsibility in this sense means:
- be honest with yourself that you need professional help in the first place;
- be honest with your practitioner(s), giving them the whole picture and allowing them to support you as thoroughly as possible;
- ask questions if you don’t understand either what’s happening, the suggestions/prescriptions you’ve been given, or what you can expect from the substance or lifestyle shift – both good and bad.
If, for whatever reason, what’s been offered doesn’t sit right with you, it’s your responsibility to take time, to gather more information, to ask for modifications or a 2nd opinion.
However, I’ll say it again, you must take responsibility for your choices.
This train of thought brings to mind The Lovers card from the Tarot.
Picture a man and a woman, naked, and on the verge of that first kiss, with all the delicious tension and possibility in that moment. The potency is so ripe, entire books have been written about it – what happens if they kiss? What happens if they don’t? (The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver is a must-read if you’re into that sort of thing.)
This is Adam & Eve about to bite into the apple. No matter what you decide, there are consequences. Some good, some bad. Stay in the state you’re in now, or dare to face the unknown world of something that could be either dangerous or liberating? Regardless of the choice you make, you must take responsibility for what happens next.
This card also reminds you that “getting naked” – dropping fully into your body with pure openness, even vulnerability – will clarify your decisions.
In the long, slow process of moving to another city, my husband and I have been learning all we can about the different neighbourhoods and making lists of what we want in a house. Then we cull the internet for places in our price-range that tick as many of the boxes we’ve made a priority, like a big backyard with trees and a finished basement.
On our list, we’ve also written down how we want to feel in our new home. Spacious, warm, welcome. It’s not until we actually go and drive around the areas, walk through the houses and “get the vibe” that we know for sure if a place is right for us or not. We need to feel it.
It’s the same with health decisions.
Yes, it starts with an informed decision, as described above. At a certain point, though, you need to turn off your head and connect to how it feels in your body.
Maybe a certain supplement gives you a headache, or the thought of going straight for high-tech meds intuitively feels too extreme for the time-being. Maybe the prospect of giving up sugar brings up fear or anger.
It’s possible that you need more information. It’s possible that you need support addressing the emotional reaction. Maybe your body is telling you something that doesn’t come across logically.
Noticing and addressing those sensations is a part of responsible choice.
OK, so you’ve made your decisions: you’re taking the pills and steering clear of the caffeine, but what happens if you slip up?
I could write a whole other post about this one, but let me make one thing clear:
Cheating is a choice.
Drinking a cup of coffee, eating a chocolate doughnut or kissing your boss: none of these things “just happen”. Perhaps fleeting and lost in a whirlwind of emotion and desire, but that moment of “Do or not do” is there.
The power of the moment, and your ability to make a wise choice, lies in doing so consciously. Understand that you are responsible for the consequences and the choices that come afterwards.
Is it one coffee, one doughnut or one kiss – savoured and enjoyed for all it’s worth? Or do you allow your efforts to backslide into a full affair with whichever substance has tempted you?
It gets back to how you want to feel in your body, even decide who you want to be, and determine if the belly ache you’ll have later is worth the 30 seconds of sweet in your mouth now.
At some point, my husband and I will have to stop flirting with ideas and make an offer on one particular house. Once you’ve thought about the options, you’ve got to pick which one(s) you’ll follow to improve your health.
The magic of choice lies in the commitment to what you’ve chosen. Follow your choice with your whole heart, and watch as healing and your life unfold before you.
What choices do you make on a daily basis for the good of your health, body and soul? When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
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this is such a lovely piece, cathy. (i think my favorite of yours so far.) a couple of key points stood out for me though.
this: “It’s a bad idea to give all your power to the health care provider.”
i learned this valuable lesson long ago (during the birth of my first child), and have never looked back or given up any of my power when it comes to my health.
and this: “On our list, we’ve also written down how we want to feel in our new home. Spacious, warm, welcome. It’s not until we actually go and drive around the areas, walk through the houses and “get the vibe” that we know for sure if a place is right for us or not. We need to feel it.”
yes, yes, yes. my husband and i actually bought our villa in italy (physical) sight unseen! we’d devoured the photos and the videos that the realtor had provided and we’d even “driven” up and down the streets of our new village on google maps. and we just took the plunge. many thought we were crazy, but we KNEW it was the one (after looking at hundreds of properties online and in person, in 3 different countries). when we finally had the chance to meet our villa, our feelings of certainty were confirmed. “getting the vibe” is oh-so-important. i hope the perfect home comes up for you and your family very soon.
Such wise words to stay close to your intuition and to be responsible for your choices, Cathy, thank you. Food and health are such layered topics. For me, the cup of coffee, even the chocolate doughnut, can be a delicious choice, treat rather than treatment, thankfully. The choices I make on a daily basis are those that nourish me on a variety of levels. One day it might be a green smoothie for breakfast, the next day chocolate cherry. Whatever the choice, I try to stay fully conscious and gracious.