After being diagnosed with Wilson’s disease I started a crusade. My goal was beat this disease, no matter what.
The study of epigenetics states that genes can be switched “on and off” based on the signals the body gets from the environment.
In short, the way you live your life can affect the way your genes shape your health.
So, I threw every last ounce of energy I had to fighting and beating this disease.
Focusing on a health goal can make you sick
The fight left me more tired and sicker. I couldn’t see a future for myself constantly fighting to live. But fortunately, the exhaustion forced me to slow down. Only after I stopped struggling did I realize that this disease was teaching me some valuable life lessons.
The most valuable lesson I learnt is that in isolation the focus on being healthy is pointless.
This goal is more important than being healthy
Spending my waking hours in pursuit of being healthy had became an unhealthy obsession.
After self relfecting and therapy at the “request” of Raizy my beloved wife, I realized that health wasn’t the end goal.
This realization got me asking very different questions.
- What did I want to do with my life?
- How did I want to spend the time I still had on this earth?
- Who did I want to spend my time with?
After seeing this truth I asked myself, “Why was I fighting so hard to be healthy?”
Was fighting the best solution to achieve my goal to live a happy and meaningful life?
Don’t I need to fight to overcome the obstacles to achieve success?
Fighting can prevent you from reaching your goal
Fighting puts the body into a state of stress, a.k.a the fight or flight response.
While in this stressed state the body is spending most of its energy on dealing or anticipating any potential threats, instead of spending its resources on healing and regeneration.
Every decision you make in this state is about survival.
To help you survive this short-term thinking works, but to thrive in life planning for the long-term is needed.
To make better long-term decisions you need to learn to switch off the stress response.
In my article titled “Talkless Therapy” there is a short breathing exericses you can use to switch off the stress response.
As you aren’t always aware that you are in a stress response knowing what triggers stress can be helpful
A beautiful acronym to remember what triggers a stress response is N.U.T.S
- New or novel experiences
- Unpredictable events
- Threat to your ego
- Sense of Control
Why you stop short of your goals
As I learnt to slow down and start focusing on the life I wanted rather than my disease, my stress dissipated.
When I stopped fighting it was amazing how much faster I started healing.
Creating new habits and activities that strengthen the body and build resilience are relativley simple. But most people who try to change their habits will tell you, “I always start off well and at some point lose steam”
If we know something is good for us why can’t we persist?
One of the biggest reasons is the fear of loss.
The brain is hard wired to move away from pain and towards pleasure.
Loss is a pain that we try and avoid at all costs. Nobody wants to lose anything.
The catch is that whenever you change anything in your life, you will always gain something but automatically lose something as well.
This loss can create an internal conflict that can cause you to self-sabotage your goals.
For example losing weight means you need to eat healthier and be more disciplined.
By eating this way you will lose the freedoms to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. If the desire to be free supersedes the desire to lose weight you will never allow yourself to lose that freedom.
By identifying these underlying desires you can now compare the two objectively.
Yes, you will lose the freedom to eat whatever you want whenever you want, but the freedom you will gain with more energy and confidence far out weigh the loss.
Taking action: The million dollar question
Think of a health goal you would like to achieve.
Now write a couple of things you stand to lose by gaining this goal? Are you losing more than you are gaining by making the change?
If you found this article helpful, I would love to hear from you so I can continue to write content you enjoy and find useful. Click here to leave your thoughts.