Choose Change, Choose Health

Choose Change,

Choose Health

Spring 2002

When you break a bone, the doctor straightens it. If your appendix is inflamed, you have it removed. If you gash your skin, you have it stitched up. When you have an infection you take an antibiotic. When you have pain, you…

Pain is an elusive concept. For some folks, even the slightest discomfort will motivate them to seek relief. For others, it often takes a great deal of pain, often to the point of interfering with their regular activities, to seek help. Even then, it can be difficult to address the lifestyle patterns that influence the progression of symptoms that interfere with healing the source of pain. Most often, they just want the discomfort to go away.

Many people know that change needs to happen in order to heal, yet the pain or discomfort they are feeling becomes so familiar that their unconscious my feel fear or risk at endeavors to initiate change. Often the comfort of what is already known and expected, even though it may be painful, can be a greater pull than the effort it takes to overcome the inertia and move in a direction of change.

I notice in my own life, and in the lives of my patients, that change can be difficult. Our society encourages us to seek outside help for our ailments, and we have become disengaged from our own inner wisdom. When a patient comes to me with back pain and states, “If I could just be less stressed, I know my pain would go away.” I wonder if this person is ready to begin looking at the choices he is making in his life that contribute to stress, and if he is willing to participate in discovering alternatives. The suggestions towards stress reduction may take a commitment greater than 2 hours a week of therapy, and therefore may not be pursued.

So I ask myself, “Do people really want to change or do they just want to be more comfortable in their same old habits?” Through trial, tribulation, severe pain and suffering, and eventual desperation, many people will finally reach out for help, and allow real change. Whether it’s physical, emotional or spiritual, there are many professionals available. They can coach you through an awareness process to understand your habitual way of engaging in your environment, and help you gradually begin to shift these patterns. Asking for help from someone in addition to your doctor often takes courage and a willingness to surrender to the awareness that you may not be able to do this on your own. Asking for help is not a failure. In fact, it may support the greatest successes in your life.

Other people may continue to manifest increasingly intense physical symptoms and, through their physician’s well-intended care, continue to try new medications, change medications, and/or add medications in their search for comfort without having to take inventory of their own lives. Or they may try exercise, massage, manipulation, or interventions that may temporarily ease the symptoms. However, until they actively engage in understanding how they play a role in their own life, they will often continue to be frustrated that someone “out there” has not been able to FIX them.

Often healing can be very simple and straight-forward. However the process of change can require more attention. It has been said “it takes as much effort to be unhappy as it does to be happy, so which do you choose?” This is so true. Yet we often don’t realize how much effort and energy is being put into maintaining the inertia of our unhealthy, unhappy, or uncomfortable state.

Often, the initial steps towards change can be very simple, even easy. You start small and don’t have to change everything all at once. As we follow the path of change, it becomes more interesting, self-motivating, and rewarding. For some, it may not even mean changing the level of their pain, but changing their relationship to it and giving them other aspects of their body and their life to be present to and enjoy. After all, what have you got to lose?