“You’ll believe it when you see it” – Wayne Dyer
A few days ago, a colleague of mine had a pre-med student with him in clinic. He was a real go-getter type with dreams of revolutionizing the healthcare system. He is one of the many reasons I am totally in awe of younger generations, they’re just so unbelievably passionate about serving others. The nurse was discharging a patient and asked my colleague about something they had talked about, “it’s called Milk Thistle, please write it down in his discharge papers”. He was likely recommending it for liver support or high LDL cholesterol. The nurse responded “You know he’s not going to go out and buy it, right?” My doctor friend said “We talked about it, he was interested, he’ll buy it”. Quietly but audibly enough for us to hear, the pre-med student followed with “Believe, you have to believe”.
I loved this. I loved hearing these words come out of this 20-somethings mouth in response to our typically labeled “non-compliant, lazy, uninterested in their health” population. It’s a refreshing reminder that we as partners in health must believe in our patients and their ability to take control of their health. If you take the time to sit and talk to your patients, you’ll see that no one wants to be sick. That most humans intuitively know that the body has an incredible self-healing capacity as long as it is receiving the right fuel. That many have succumbed to the idea of illness and disease as a genetic destiny or lifelong label, simply because that is what the healthcare system, insurance companies, doctors, PAs, NPs, nurses, MAs and others have told them time and time again.
The lexicon has to shift in order for the healthcare system to. We have to stop looking at our patients as ‘non-compliant’ and ask ourselves what are we doing to help engage them. When we tell our co-workers that patients are just ‘lazy and don’t want to exercise’ that ripples out into the ether and is adopted as the standard for everyone. It becomes a collective consciousness and then everyone, including the patient, owns that as their reality.
Our words become our world. The words we use to talk to ourselves, the words we use to speak to others, carry a heavy weight. Stop saying that “I have cancer because everyone in my family does” or “You have diabetes because your mom and dad have it”. Look into epigenetics and learn that your genes are only 20% of the equation. That the other 80% involves your lifestyle, how you eat, what you eat, who you interact with, how much you get outside, how often you move your bones, the quality of your sleep, how much alcohol you consume, the support of your social circle. It even depends on the words you use, the beliefs you maintain, the trauma you hold on to, the news you watch, your sense of purpose, how many hugs you give and get and on and on.
During SXSW, a friend of mine did something pretty shitty to a few people who were trying to do a good deed. This person broke my heart because I believed so fiercely that greed was not part of their operation. I talked to multiple people about keeping my mouth shut or speaking out. Then I spoke to my sister and she said “Cookie monster, people need other people to believe in them, this is the only way they can feel empowered to rise up and fulfill their highest self.” It took me a while to take her words in as I was fairly hurt and disappointed, but then slowly they became my truth. From the simplest deed to the most complex, we need others to believe in us.
This is incredibly important to me in my work with patients. Sometimes our patients have never had anyone who believed in them. Can you imagine living your life this way? So when they come to us for health and healing, we can start with the belief that they can reverse their diabetes, they can lose the 20 pounds, they can add a few vegetables a day to their diet. And sometimes, it means just shutting up, keeping your opinions to yourself and believing in others with your energy, because that’s a powerful tool as well.
That patient needed my colleague and his student to believe that he will buy the milk thistle as the first step to taking control of his health. Same for my friend. When we support and believe in others, it ignites self-belief and a chain reaction leading them to their highest potential. When you believe that strongly in yourself, it does the same.