Empowerment and Choice

March 14, 2016

Empowerment

As a health coach, I see my job as facilitating your empowerment by reminding you that you have choices about what you do about your health. Health coaching helps you develop carry out and maintain behaviors to help you be healthy happy and fulfilled. Behaviors arise from beliefs, whether we are conscious of them. Beliefs arise from values. Sometimes were not even aware of what’s important to us because our values are deeply ingrained, sometimes culturally determined, and almost unconscious in some cases. However, they exist and they do drive our behaviors and thoughts.

How do we know what our values are? Values are things that we hold to be true and important; they shape our priorities and how we organize our energy in our day-to-day activities. Sometimes our values are in conflict with our behavior. For example, we might say that we value honesty but not an act that when we fear rejection or conflict. Another example is that we might think that exercise is important, but have a hard time getting to the gym or moving in general in our lives.

As a health coach I help you become aware of these differences in our actions versus our values. My job is not to shame you about not walking the walk; instead, it’s to speak the truth about these discrepancies with you so that you can be more aware. Awareness often leads to empowerment, but it is not the only ingredient in successful health behavior.

What are your values? Is money more important than health? Is work more important than family? How much do you value recreation? These are the kinds of things that I’ll be asking you if you become a health coach client. Once you know what you value, you will be able to prioritize certain behaviors and change others that don’t lead to fulfillment of your health goals.

How do values affect your thoughts? What thoughts help you get and stay healthy, and which ones get in your way? I’ll give you an example from my life. Until a chronic illness kicked my behind, I had a very poor diet. Work was more important to me than health, and I wanted to stay alert during my work week. So I would eat sugary things and consume lots of caffeine. I noticed that I didn’t lose weight very easily and felt tired but wired at the same time often. It interfered with my sleep and made me cranky when the caffeine and sugar wore off. When I finally figured out that sugar contributed to Candida albicans in my system, I stopped using it. My value influenced my thought because I thought I was invincible and thought that it was more important to be energetic in the short run than healthy in the long run. I see the same behavior and a lot of people, for instance people with diabetes still consume sugar. There’s a certain magical thinking that happens when we’ re engaging in something that gets a short-term pleasure but has negative long-range health consequences. I’m thinking of smoking, drinking, drugs, and yes, even sugar and caffeine.

At the other end of the spectrum from magical thinking, is fatalism. Sometimes when you have a mental or physical health condition, you feel hopeless and you think that there’s nothing that you can do to make your condition better. You might start following the doctor’s orders, taking medication, and your thoughts might be filled with darkness and despair. It’s very easy to fall into this, and I’ve been down that road myself. But what’s saves me from giving up altogether is knowing that this too shall pass, and that however I’m feeling in any given moment is temporary. I may feel on top of the world one day and down in the dumps the next. As long as I’m alive, I have a reason for being here. As long as I have a reason to be here, I have a purpose and I cannot give up. As a health coach, I can also help you explore why you’re here and how that can get you through negative thinking spells.

My job is not to judge you for your habits as they are. I accept you completely as a person who has the resources, wisdom and intelligence to achieve your health goals. My job is to help empower you through awareness. My hope for everyone reading this is that you have a life that is happy, healthy, and purposeful. One of the main tools is awareness. If you’re aware of your thoughts and the values that guide your behavior, you have a better chance to achieve your wellness goals. So even if you don’t work with me personally, I hope that you give thought to what your values are, how you think about your health and yourself, and how these shape your behavior.