Monday, January 21, 2013

What Did She Say? He Said What?

How often do the voices seem to crowd into your mind and say this, and say that--without seeming to say much at all?

The voices can float in from anywhere. Someone you know or someone you don't know. Media. The internet. It's not a ghost story, it's very much a reality. Words hang in the air and they may imply that they somehow know the real you better than you know yourself.

And the tricky thing about the voice cloud is that it may try to exert its influence the most just when you're in your groove, feeling healthy, and doing your thing.

And now for a slight--but related--tangent. I find football-inspired movies to be...well, inspiring. I saw a recent one where the coach is talking to his team right before a very important game. The football players are feeling discouraged and scared about playing a team that popular opinion seems to say is bigger and better than them.

However, up until the players had heard the media, other coaches, and the town pumping up the other team to beat them, it had never occurred to them that they couldn't handle the game and have a fair shake at it too. In fact, they had believed they could win it.

Once they started hearing what other people said, though, they started feeling smaller, less prepared, and destined to lose.

The coach puts on a (masterfully acted) expression and basically poses a question to them: "You all felt you could win it before, and now that a bunch of people you don't even know out there are saying you can't do it--you're gonna give up?" That's not the exact quote, but you get the gist.

An inspiring movie in my opinion (called "Touchback" by the way) and also a powerful question for each of us. Is it worth questioning your own spirit, talent, quirks, personality, and health for the sake of what others are saying out there--both those you know and those you don't know?

Thanks for that cool movie moment, Kurt Russell. Picture what you'd say back to his question.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pretending to Not See

Whether we realize it or not, it is common for people to ignore some of the most important traits about themselves. How does this happen? It starts with the feeling that there are other traits more valued by people and the world around us. Sprinkle to that the fear that ignoring those perceived values in favor of our own will cause problems. Guess what? It often will cause problems to hold true to the things you appreciate most about yourself. However, by seeing yourself and your potential clearly, you are also attending to your health. When it becomes habitual to pretend to not see, that is when health can be affected.

How is health affected? First we have to explore what health is in the first place. Is it having a cholesterol level that falls in normal ranges on blood tests? Is it having a blood pressure that falls around 120/80 mm Hg? Or what about a BMI that indicates a healthy weight for your specific height? Of course all these measures show aspects of physical health that are helpful to keep in a healthy range. But they aren’t the whole picture. Can all of these numbers be normal and someone still feel unwell in health and life? Yes, and we see it all the time.

So what is the missing piece of the puzzle? Health can be seen as a uniquely natural state for each individual in which both the mind and body are able to act and move toward living life. And because each individual has his or her own life, it is an individual experience to feel health or illness. When it becomes habit to ignore individual traits in favor of values that are loosely being thrown around in our midst, it matters because our sense of self and of health becomes more muddied.

This situation happens every day, all around us, and it affects each of us in different ways. But by stepping back once in a while and asking, “What am I pretending to not see..., that I really do see?” we can get back in touch with pieces of ourselves that are the true natural medicines for our health. It isn’t very fun to pretend to not see, even though it happens all the time.

Think of this next suggestion as a refresher for the start of 2013. Think about, or write down, three traits in yourself that you’ve been out of touch with and that you’d be happy to hang out with again this year. Imagine that you are hanging out with them for coffee or tea, just to say, “What’s up?”