Worrying excessively about our well-being can do us more harm than good. Here’s how to keep your health concerns in perspective.
Most nights of the week, my family and I sit down to colorful, plant-powered dinners. But every so often, I tuck into a grilled bratwurst and a tall beer instead. And I savor them.
Ironically, it was my breast-cancer diagnosis five years ago that inspired me to relish such occasional indulgences rather than wondering whether they would kill me.
In this New York Times article, A-list actress Angelina Jolie bravely announced that she made the tough decision to undergo elective bilateral mastectomy after her doctors warned her that she has an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 50% risk of getting ovarian cancer because her mother died of breast cancer and she carries the BRCA1 gene. While I fully support Angelina’s right to write The Prescription for herself, and while I admire her courage to go public with what some might hide, as an OB/GYN physician with a passion for mind-body medicine, this breaking news concerns me for a variety of reasons.
Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share.
How hard is it for you to say your truth?
What happens when you see something you are in complete disagreement with?
Do you squirm yourself to silence, inside?
Or flick out the truth like you were tossing a handful of coins in a fountain?
And how about the truth of the way you feel?
Like—let’s say—when you feel scorched with jealousy?
Or unhappy with the way your lover is treating you?
There’s something so annoying about getting sick. Whether it’s the common cold, flu-like symptoms or being hit with the cancer stick – it really is most inconvenient! And let’s be honest, it’s never a good time to get cancer. “I have things to do thank you very much – you are mucking up my life plan god damn you!” was my response to my “incurable” disease.
Many kids say, “My mom is crazy!”
Usually it’s a joke—and about something pretty mild in the grand scheme of things—like her freaking out about a B minus on a test, or not putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
In my case, my mother—literally—was crazy, meaning she was psychotic and un-medicated. My childhood, instead of being fancy-free, was troubled, burdened, and weighted by unadulterated amounts of pain and fear. While other little girls were going to ballet and playing with Barbie dolls, I was terrified and ashamed of my life.
How about we reflect on our relationship to fear? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to reform our vision and understanding of it, by contemplating this very moment how it frightens us?
The ultimate bully, fear is a hotbed for suffering. Chronic or acute, always sneaky, and masterful at hitching rides on as many instances and thoughts as it can, this feeling really gets around. Ironically, in its frenzied travels, fear brings our innate capacity for movement and growth to a heaving halt. It is too, so powerful at times, that it can flash forth from the dead, like an enormous flame teeming out of a seemingly burnt out heap. This is how sensitive and refined fear can be, how self-resuscitating.
There is a factor in your health which is often left out of the healthcare picture: your mind. Once you realize that your thoughts cause biochemical shifts in your brain, which in turn cause reactions throughout your entire physiology, your mind becomes a health practice.
There is nothing new in this fact. What is new is the greater degree to which we understand the thought-brain-body interaction. The most significant interaction is around fearful thoughts which lead to a fearful body.
A few months ago I had a chance to hear Gabrielle Bernstein and Kris Carr give a lecture on “Crazy Sexy Miracles” and I was completely blown away by both of these amazing dynamos. Gabrielle teaches from the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles, and she spoke about how each time we shift our perception from fear to love we create a miracle. Our internal shifts enhance our external experiences. Serenity kicks in, fear subsides and we know that all the love we need is inside us.
I’m regularly scared these days, and I have clients who are scared, too. We all have good reasons: before a really important presentation, after a fight, before taking a big risk, or just not knowing how something you care about is going to turn out.
I don’t know about you, but I actually wish I could control the universe, and often times feel like I can. When I get the occasional wake up call that I can’t control everything, it’s a rude one for me. I’m sure you’ve experienced this too, but it doesn’t mean you should stay stuck in a feeling of powerlessness. So what should you DO about fear? I’ve gathered the most helpful coaching on the subject so we all can benefit.