As an acupuncturist, I see a lot of patients who are interested in learning what action to take in order to become healthier. They ask questions about why their elbow hurts, why their digestion is sluggish, or why they suffer from chronic headaches. They want to know which specific steps they need to take in order to become healthier, and they are often surprised by my answer. I believe one of the most important steps we can take to become healthier starts with an examination of our own belief system about health, and specifically our accountability for our own health.
It is my opinion that the first, all-important step toward becoming healthier is accepting complete responsibility for one's current health situation, however negative it may be. For some, this is significantly more difficult than it may sound. You may find it much easier to blame your poor health on your bad back, your low metabolism, your genes, your dysfunctional immune system, your brittle bones, your low energy, or even your back luck. Yet, it strikes me as inconsistent and even slightly strange that we blame our poor health on body parts or systems, as though they were external entities. Rather than blaming your back, your metabolism, or your immune system, begin to recognize that you are your back, your metabolism, and your immune system. Your body isn't to blame. Your body is you, and you are ultimately responsible for you. Your body is an amazing instrument that should be responsibly cared for. By understanding this, we can begin to see our important role in creating health.
Only by accepting full accountability for our health, do we adopt the mindset that we are capable of improving our present health landscape. If we honestly believe that we created our current state of health, than we can logically deduce that we may create a better state of health. If you accept full responsibility for your health and agree that your actions and choices have lead to your current state of health, you acknowledge your capability of choosing different actions and making different choices that will lead you to become healthier.
If instead you choose to blame your poor health on various "outside" entities, you may believe, perhaps even unconsciously, that external entities have the power to keep you from becoming healthier, and worse yet, they may always do so. This intuitively decreases our own perceived chance of success in becoming healthier. The belief that elements outside of our control can keep us from becoming healthy may also decrease or even eliminate any incentive to take the necessary steps to become healthier. Conversely, by adopting the mindset of accountability, we inherently recognize our own ability and potential. If we are accountable for a lack of health, then we can just as easily be accountable for an abundance of health. With this attitude of responsibility, our actions matter, our choices matter, and our ability to create health is limitless.
This concept can be expressed through exploring the etymology of the word responsible . The word responsible derives from the Anglo-French word responsable , which implies being able to respond or capable of responding. In other words, we are able to respond when we choose to be responsible for our health. If we choose instead to blame a laundry list of items for our health woes, our ability to respond proactively diminishes and we are left feeling incapable of improving our own health.
Once this responsibility mindset is accepted and implemented, we are then empowered to make specific healthy choices and as a result, become healthier. Far too often, I see patients that are temporarily motivated to make healthy changes in their lives, but who fail to maintain that motivation because of a feeling of powerlessness. Thus, I feel the first and most important step should be accepting responsibility for your health. Once that principle is integrated into your belief system, you can begin to make improving your health a priority and incorporate into your life wise, healthy dietary and lifestyle choices. In this way, we tap into our unlimited potential to create a healthier reality.