Self-responsibility...Face, Embrace, Replace, Grace
It’s up to you – your health and life, they are your responsibility.
The word responsibility, for some, carries with it scary undertones. Some often
hear it as a word of blame eg your health condition is all your fault. Or – it is ALL
down to you, so asking for support doesn’t feel like an option.
But responsibility simply means your ability to respond and when it comes to health
I would add in your willingness and ability. You have a lot of control over your
willingness, your ability to respond however depends on the services and facilities
available to you, and that includes the attitudes of health care providers and how up
to date their information and “tools of the trade” are. I mean, if you find yourself
stymied by a health system and its practitioners, is that the end of the line? How
willing and able are you to challenge your experiences, challenge the system and its
staff, and if necessary advocate at a political level for change?
This page is about you.
What you do about your health is, of course, up to you. It can all feel a bit overwhelming especially when your own experience is you are doing your best. Or it may never cross your mind until a lifestyle of unhealthy ways catches up on you.
Words and how we use them are really important. Sometimes we can have too narrow a definition of a word. When a diagnosis is given, some people can feel overwhelmed and scared, whilst others with the same diagnosis are just plain relieved. For one it demotivates, and the other, it motivates.
Some see pain as their friend, as a teacher. Others as their enemy, something to be avoided, to be got rid of as quickly as possible.
When it comes to pain and diagnosis, conditions and ailments, I find it useful to apply the following words - face, embrace, replace, grace. I also use them to help people take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
What do they mean?
FACE We can’t manage, treat, or deal with what we can’t face. We can’t nor should we sit back and expect other people to “do it” for us. And we certainly should expect our health care providers to play Mystic Meg as if they had some Divine psychic connection that can find out what’s going on in our lives.
So step one has to be our willingness to face and acknowledge that something is amiss, something might be going wrong, something is not working out the way we would like, or you’ve just been given seriously negative information and the choice seems to be to cave in or chest out.
Taking personal responsibility means standing tall, head high, chest out, and engaging your willingness to face the world, face what’s going on face your signs and symptoms. It is a decision, a commitment to be responsible for your life, your health and well-being.
EMBRACE But we need to do more than just look at what’s bothering us., face it square in the eye so to speak. Step two means we embrace our situation and circumstances. Embrace doesn’t just mean we reach out our arms and scoop up what’s facing us. By embrace I mean, scoop up and consider your condition in its wholeness – what are its signs and symptoms, what, as far as you can establish, is its cause, how does it affect you, what did you do to cause it, what are you doing to contribute to its maintenance, what might you need to do differently, what are the consequences for you and how will you manage them? Embrace doesn’t just mean befriend your pain or condition. Embrace all that it is teaching you. Perhaps the recurrence of pain is a message to give up a certain behaviour. If every time you drink alcohol you now have a violent reaction, then the reaction is teaching you it’s time to give up the alcohol, or a deeper meaning, clean up your life. So within the totality of all you embrace, there may be a few things you have to resolve, or … replace.
REPLACE In terms of all the negativity in your condition or situation, what can you now resolve, rebuff, refuse, repel, reject, and perhaps replace? Instead of drinking fattening fizzy drinks, can you replace with water? Instead of always having to speak first in a group meeting, could you experiment with replacing that habit by allowing others to speak before you? Of course, you may have received a diagnosis which is not retrievable or replaceable (or so you have been told or think.) You may have been given a terminal diagnosis but do you just stop at embracing the news and become a victim. Could you replace your mindset with that of a victor and decide to live your best life possible, even with a terminal condition? Concerning the condition, what do you need to perhaps cut out of your life and with what, if anything do you need to replace it? For example, for many years, I bought into the establishment’s mantra that diabetes was for life. When I knew better, I replaced my negative resigned thinking with positive hopeful thoughts, I changed my thinking on exercise, and nutrition, on spirituality. I replaced coffee with green tea, replaced bad cooking oils with coconut oil, went from a low fat high carb diet to a low carb high natural fat diet. If your tendency with your spouse is to always be nagging and critical, how about experimenting with being accepting and praising? Look for the good, no matter how tiny. We always have choices.
Throughout this website, you will find tools to help you embrace and analyse what you are embracing and find ways to replace what’s not working with something that does.. Have a close look at the pages DX (Diagnosis) and RX (Prescription.) And note, we are not asking you to replace your health care providers, we are asking you to take responsibility by informing yourself and having your best stab at coming up with a diagnosis for which in some cases you can also write your own prescriptions. EG if you realise, through analysis, that your difficulties in relationship are down to you always criticising people and being negative around them, you don’t need a doctor to write you a prescription telling you to smile more, be welcoming, be accepting, give praise, and be positive. There is so much we can do for ourselves.
I had a friend who for years moaned and complained incessantly about her work and her partner. But any suggestions to confront her managers or indeed get a new job, or indeed end the relationship, were simply met with a grunt and a “Why bother?” She faced the situation but stayed stuck there. And staying stuck, she became more and more ill, the situations gnawed away at her, and ultimately, she fell to lung cancer. Review the pages on metaphysics – beyond the physical. More often than not, the person with cancer has a pattern of long standing life problems that have been "eating them up inside". Their inability or unwillingness to effectively deal with these problems gives rise to the cancer to begin with. Often, cancer is the manifestation of the person's conflicting desires to escape the situation and to "keep things as they are" because change would be too painful. In this case, leaving her boyfriend would have caused too much hassle. So, she did not move on to embrace, learn from it and her part in her situation, and do something about it by replacing the things that weren’t working, including dealing with the conflicting desires and fears.
GRACE If we can embrace and replace, we can find solutions at a very practical level. But often our learning will go deeper, we may end up a better or more spiritual person. And we may find we start to welcome grace into our lives, into any spaces we have created. You can bring grace to the way you move – through smoothness and elegance, take up Qi Gong which is the epitome of grace in movement, express grace in courteous good will, with humility, an attractively polite manner. Christians believe Grace to be the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Sin is not about being bad. It is taking your eye off the mark, off your health, off of dealing with the real issues in life. Often when we keep focussed on the real issues and tackle those, God’s will or Grace come in to help. Which simply means you get something good even although you may not have merited it, simply just by being you. The more you welcome grace into your life, the more it will squeeze out that which is undesirable.
We can change things just by how we talk to ourselves. When we say “I am stressed” the body fires the same hormones as if we were saying “I am excited.” So it is recommended we stop saying “I am stressed” and, in those moments where the stress triggers are around in our lives, tell ourselves, “I am excited.” Or t least just stop telling yourself negative things.
I see chronic pain and health conditions as great teachers. It makes me creative in researching solutions, in creating options from which I can make better choices. In the wake of your diagnosis, you will learn so much about yourself, your loved ones and the medical community and the possibilities and choices now in front of you. Your strength will be tested – sometimes daily – and it will be up to you whether you handle that struggle with grace or despair, as a victim or a victor.
Accepting and taking responsibility for your health, your life, will change you as a person. The choice is yours whether it’s for the better or worse, but you always have choice. Remember that.
The key is you