The Wrong Way to Approach That Mysterious Illness - Part Two
A lot of people who reach out to inquire about coaching tell me they’ve “tried everything.”
A short paraphrase of such stories goes something like this…
“After I saw a specialist for every body part, and medicated the symptoms of my symptoms, I got off the medical merry-go-round and…
I pivoted to trying holistic practitioners/coaches, who gave me “functional” tests instead of blood tests, supplements instead of drugs, corrective exercises instead of physical therapy, elimination diets instead of medically-supervised diets…
eventually the message I was left with was there’s nothing they could do and maybe I should see a shrink.”
What I often hear is a story of…
Bouncing from thing to thing–“I this and it didn’t work, and then this, and then this…”
Someone who feels exhausted by the process and legitimately needs a break/win.
Someone who wrestles with fading hope and feeling like maybe he or she is the real problem.
I’ve never heard a story like that and thought “That person is the problem.“
What I hear is a person with a framing problem, an “unawareness-of-options” problem, or both.
The effort wasn’t the problem–the real challenge was their 1) mindset and 2) the lack of a methodical, personalized plan.
So how do we begin finding a clear and hopeful path through the fog?
Building on the principles in the first post in this series we can proceed to…
Principle #5: Think stacking, not sequencing
To put a finer point on this principle, think “sustainable stacking, silver-bullet sequencing.”
A problem I often observe where this principle is violated is, at one end of the spectrum, to attempt to stack too many things at once–that’s a recipe for frustration and burnout.
At the other end of the spectrum I see people with a “singularity” mindset–“There’s got to be some modality, some bio-hack, some specialist, I’ve not tried yet–I’ll try that next.”
Neither end of the spectrum will ultimately bear the fruit you’re looking for.
A question I often help people entertain after they tell me about the breadth of what they’ve tried is “How long did you try those things and how many of them did you do at the same time?”
Remember Principle #1: Health is about wholeness.
Here’s the important point I want to make…
The key variable in the equation of a mysterious health challenge isn’t willpower, or a silver bullet–the variable is synergy–the ability to practice enough good habits at the same time–to unburden and empower the body–for long enough that it can heal.”
That may sound complicated, so let’s break it down so it feels approachable and not overwhelming.
To defeat overwhelm we need something special, something I call…
Principle #6: Holistic Triage
First, let’s define “triage.”
In the medical realm, triage is “The process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.”
For our purposes here, what we’re looking for are the most obvious options for unburdening and empowerment.
Remember, Principle #3: We have to accept complexity before we can simplify.
Another way to say that is you have to take the counterintuitive step to embrace your whole-human-ness, so you don’t overlook your biggest obstacles and opportunities.
So what does holistic triage look like?
A whole-person process of auditing the stories, lifestyle, and resources of the individual trying to get well, and then determining where to focus first.
Auditing your whole-human-ness means you inventory your…
Stories – what happened…and what you told yourself about what happened. How you tell your story says A LOT about your mindset and where you’ll get tripped up.
Lifestyle – the geographical, relational, financial, logistical, and habitual assets and liabilities that impact your ability to heal.
Resources – what reserves (mental, emotional, relational, financial etc.) can be called upon to help you restore health.
Do you see how that’s different from a “full-panel of lab tests,” doing a cleanse, or joining a gym?
That doesn’t mean we rule out lab tests (or cleanses or gym memberships), it simply gives them a contextual role as a tactic, and frees them from the unreasonable burden of filling in as a holistic strategy.
Occasionally tactical reductionist thinking can create a breakthrough, but in the stories I’ve heard lately such thinking, or off-the-shelf programs that rely on such thinking, have been a frustrating (and expensive) path to…
“We don’t know what’s wrong with you” and/or the self-defeating question
“Why can’t I get my act together?”
Here’s my point…
How can we realistically hope to get someone well if we don’t inventory the bigger lifestyle within which those symptoms arose?
Everything else is just symptom management, is it not?
Now let’s look at this logically.
First, you can’t fight the biological laws of physics (i.e. stack bad habits and neglect good ones) and expect to make progress with your health.
Second, the problem ISN’T that you’re clueless about how to build health, the problem (at least in part) IS the application of what you already know.
The two biggest problems to overcome then are…
Lack of awareness of the most needle-moving options (within your reach)
Overcoming the knowing/doing conundrum of being human
Well, shoot…what if we solved for THOSE variable?
In other words, what if we solved for the education and self-awareness gap?
Here is what that strategy would look like:
What do you not know about the unburdening and empowering equation?
What keeps you from practicing what you already know?
What would it take to change those two things?
Holistic triage means we audit (and I’d say celebrate) the whole human you are, and solve for TWO variables:
Finding the most important behavior to focus on, first
Solving the knowing/doing conundrum.
Well, that’s a little simpler isn’t it?
As glaringly obvious as holistic triage might be, it feels foreign because it’s not how we, or the “experts” (medical or alternative) have been trained to think.
Yet, if you really want to build health (not manage symptoms) can you think of a better way?
Not having a framework to think this way is why people bounce around from specialist to specialist and program to program with little to show for it.
So, how do we avoid this trap…
Principle #7: Embrace Your Limitations.
Let’s be real.
It is impossible to “do all of the things.”
You can’t practice every good habit known to man–that’s why you pick one area at a time.
While it’s beyond the scope of this article to go through the whole triage process, let me give you this visual of where you can start.
This is one of the frameworks we use to audit the whole-human–starting with health habits.
Look at each of those seven areas and ask yourself how you’re doing.
(If you want to see the 70 questions we use, just fill out the form in the PS below and I’ll email you our habits audit.)
Do your holistic triage well, and you’re on your way to rising above the complexity and figuring out where to focus first.
What you’re looking for is…
The most important, person-specific variables in your equation.
A realistic level of aggressiveness with which to pay back your health debt.
It sounds simple when you hear it, but overcoming a mysterious health challenge really boils down to methodically clearing obstacles, and stacking good habits/modalities.
FOCUSING ON THE PAYOFF
To do the above process well, you’re likely going to need some emotional (re)calibration and some healthy, expectation management.
I’ll cover those relevant variables in post three, but for now, let’s start with some fair questions.
Is holistic triage more work than going to a “specialist,” or getting an off-the-shelf program?
Is this holistic triage process going to spare you a lot of wrong turns in the long run?
Think bigger: Is holistic triage an operating system for a really great life in general?
You bet it is. 😉
Will it make someone (more) amazing of you in the process?
Think about it.
Each new measure of unburdening, each new aspect of empowerment, will create a rising tide of better health and illuminate new options (for optimized health and life) to consider.
As you pay back health debt, you put good habits on auto-pilot and free up more time, money, and energy to focus on other parts of life.
Plus, you’ll have learned a skill (triage) to face any challenge life sends your way.
On top of that, and perhaps more profoundly, through the process you’ll have figured out how to conquer the age-old, knowing/doing problem
Think of what else you could accomplish if you slayed that dragon!
It all starts with a willingness to face complexity (not begrudge it), and realize you don’t have to change everything at once.
The journey has a lot to teach you, and my friend, you are worth the effort.
Embrace the journey for the whole-human you will become in the process.
If you need some help sorting this out, reach out…I do this all day.
Regardless, I hope you found this insightful.
I’ll see you in the next post.
To your success,
PS. The principles above are the same regardless of the type of challenge you’re wrestling with–jab injury, new mysterious challenge, or ongoing, chronic condition. Whatever you’re facing, lean in, and never give up hope! If you need a coach, book a call.
PPS. If you are interested in using our FREE Habits Audit PDF for yourself, just enter your info below and I’ll email it to you.