Self-Responsibility

Monday 11 August, 2014

Thirteen years ago I spent four days bed-ridden in the accident & emergency department. There were insufficient beds to move me upstairs, so I remained among the organised chaos of A&E. I witnessed all kinds of people arriving at various times of the day and night, with a multitude of complaints; every one of them attended to by doctors who were often baffled by their symptoms. This post follows on from the previous two and makes the point that one of the best ways to prosper is to take care of your own well-being.

Firstly, however, I have to say that I would probably not be alive if it were not for the expertise of doctors and surgeons alike, not to mention the wonder of modern medicine. Surgery probably saved my life when I was little and has alleviated so much of my back and hip pain over the years. I will always be grateful. Nevertheless, my point here is that we surrender too much of our power sometimes when we have abundant resources within us to be fit, healthy and well.

The A&E episode was reinforced a few years ago when it seemed that the problems with my back and legs were getting worse again. I visited two neurologists and underwent numerous tests and scans, only for both of them to tell me they could find nothing wrong. The last comment from either of them was: ‘We don’t know everything.’ I was more than willing to accept that statement and, after the relief of hearing they had found nothing, I walked away feeling reassured that my health was back in my own hands.

Whilst expert help and advice is undoubtedly of huge benefit, there is a tendency to defer too easily to professionals when, in reality, we are in a position to know our bodies better than anyone can, and help ourselves more than anyone might. In the past year I have spoken to three people close to me, all of who have taken responsibility for their health and have seen remarkable results as a consequence.

The first is a man with diabetes, who listened closely to his own body and made full use of the awareness of his lifestyle, to improve his health. As soon as he realised that the stress induced by being around negative people was directly linked to spikes in his blood sugar, he moved away from them. Distancing himself from their negativity helped stabilise his health. Simple.

Then there’s the woman who, having been offered surgery to help with her sciatica, listened to the proposed 50% chance of success and decided she would exercise her way to health. It took her two years, but she made it. Courageous.

The third is someone who, when I met him, had just been diagnosed with rheumatism, told he can’t run anymore, and been put on medication for the rest of his life. Things got worse for him after that, to the point where the only way was up. Over the next 18 months, he worked hard on himself; replaced his passion for running, with sessions at the gym; changed his diet; and got himself in such good health that his doctor recently suggested he stop taking the medication for a while to see how things go. By taking responsibility for and control of his life, he turned things around. Impressive.

Add to these stories my own improvement thanks to daily exercise and it’s easy to see we are more powerful than we realise. By seeing the negativity around us and moving away from it, we create space for healthier, more favourable relationships. By exercising and providing our body with the nutrition it needs, we create the best conditions for it to heal itself, which it does as a matter of routine. It doesn’t take much to look after yourself. A little self-responsibility can go a long way and, over time, the results can be astounding.

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