The Power of Control

 Photo by  Alex Read  on   Unsplash

Photo by Alex Read on Unsplash

Have you ever thought about how the concept of Power as it relates to our personal health?  This topic has been swirling in my mind for a long while now.  It's a topic that suffuses our health care debate:  how much responsibility should patients take for their health conditions?  It's a topic that lives (virulently) on comments boards:  "If he hadn't been drinking...", "If she had just lost the weight..."  "drug use is an illness..." "no, it's a choice." It's a topic that divides between those who would prefer to take no responsibility and those who believe each person takes all responsibility for their health.  Suggesting that a person bears personal responsibility for the outcome of poor health choices is "victim shaming," while stating that no one should have to cover the cost of such care is a "bleeding heart liberal."  The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

But this post isn't about getting into the politics of personal responsibility.  

This post is meant to help you, as an individual, understand and take back your power.

You are in the driver's seat.

The first step in taking back your power is to understand just how much of your health really is within your control.

Granted, there are individuals who are permanently, severely disabled.  This post isn't about people who do not have the physical or mental capacity to control their lives.

This post is written for the vast majority of mid-life women who are physically and mentally able to do everything within their power to take control of their health at whatever point in life they are.  True, individuals have genetic predispositions, conditions they were born with or that developed, over which they have no control.  However, "It's not what happens to you, it's how you respond to what happens to you."  If you let conditions and genetic predispositions take preeminence, rather than considering how you can work with what you have to be the best you can be, you will never take hold of your power to control your life.

Let's consider a fellow who most would say could not possibly take control:  Kyle Maynard, who was born with a rare condition:  congenital amputation.  He has arms that end at his elbows and legs that end at his knees.  One could say, the deck was stacked against him from the very beginning.  But this very inspirational young man refused to be defined by his physical condition.  He took his power, and used it to become a "champion wrestler, CrossFit Certified Instructor and gym owner, competitive MMA/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter, world record-setting weightlifter, and skilled mountaineer." (http://kyle-maynard.com/about-kyle/)

He was the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Aconcagua without the use of prosthetics.  He is also an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and best-selling author.  He could have been a victim of circumstance.  Instead, he took hold of his power to control his destiny to the best of his ability, and exceeded far beyond what most people with fully functioning limbs only dream.

Let's consider Harriette Thompson who, at the age of 92, became the oldest runner to finish a marathon (https://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/woman-92-becomes-oldest-marathon-finisher).  In the two years prior to running the marathon, she had battled cancer, lost her husband to cancer, and been treated for wounds on her legs related to radiation treatments.  She could have given up.  She could have said, "I'm done."  She didn't.  She took hold of her power to shape her destiny and to complete a race that was extremely important to her.  And on the way, over a period of 16 years of running races, she raised over $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

We live in a time when people want to make excuses.  "I can't do that because..."  "My life is bad because..."  "I can never succeed because..."  Have you heard yourself making any of these excuses?  I've heard myself.  We don't want to take personal responsibility for making the best of a situation, because that would mean we would have to make changes we don't want to make.  I see it every day in people who don't want to make changes.  "Take my leg, but you won't take my smokes" - perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much.

What we don't realize is that every time we make excuses, every time we play the victim to circumstance, we are giving up our power.  We are giving up our power to change our lives, to create a life that is healthy and satisfying and engaging, as much as it possibly can be given anyone's individual situation.  We are giving up our power to gain freedom.  

So allow me to indulge for a moment in a personal confession.  I was a smoker for several years in my twenties.  In spite of a cough that lasted for over a year, I refused to stop smoking.  "I need them, for anxiety," I told myself.  They cost over $300 a month at the time.  They were a crutch, keeping me from confronting the situations that were making me feel anxious.  Only when I realized that I had the power to choose to continue to smoke or not, did I make a change and quit.  But what an amazing feeling of power when I did quit!  To free myself from the chains of cigarettes, all I had to do was take back my power, and that's when I could see the path to change. 

Whatever it is that is holding you back from being the best you can be, stop making excuses.  You don't have to be the victim.  You can take back your power.  You can take control.  Every article on this site is written with the goal of helping you to take control.  Even small daily changes in your habits can lead to big positive changes in your health.

Maybe you won't climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but when you recognize and take your power into your own hands, whatever your mountain is, you will have a much better chance of conquering it.

"Mastering yourself is true power" Lao Tzu