If you've seen the TV series, ONCE, you'll remember the wily Rumpelstiltskin character. He often pops up in the stories, particularly when one of the other characters is facing some desperate situation and needs a solution that is beyond his or her power. As he strikes a deal with them, his signature line is "All magic comes with a price."
We are wired to look for easy answers (especially when we are desperate.) As a species, we are constantly seeking easier, more convenient ways to do things. When we are successful at saving time, effort, or money, we can redirect those resources to new areas. Some say that western civilization is built on this drive. It has certainly provided us with lots of innovative solutions.
Sometimes, though, innovation creates new problems. History is full of examples of initiatives that went awry when someone tried to solve a problem in a new way, but created unforeseen consequences. Unfortunately, we often only learn these lessons through failed experiments.
Healthcare today is going through some amazing changes. Our ability to study ourselves — even our own genetic material — is allowing us to understand our astonishing complexity at new levels. Every discovery provides new insight into the interconnectedness of the different aspects of the human organism, and our interdependence on all of life.
Our attraction to easy answers doesn't always serve us well when it comes to our health and well-being. We love the notion that it is possible to go to our healthcare provider and get "fixed" - much as we might take our car to the mechanic. We long for a "magic bullet" — but all magic comes with a price. Magic bullets can bring collateral damage.
When we get sick, it is because some process in our body has gone awry. The magic bullets that traditional western medicine offers are aimed at the end result of that dysfunctional process, rather than the cause. Consider these examples:
- Antibiotics kill bacteria. They also kill all the other friendly microorganisms in our guts that keep our immune systems strong.
- One kind of diabetes drug lowers blood sugar by increasing insulin production. Overworked insulin-making cells also die sooner.
- Bariatric surgery helps people lose unwanted weight. It also reduces their ability to absorb nutrients and can lead to vitamin deficiencies and osteoporosis.
To truly master our self-care, we must learn not to rely on medical magic bullets. Relying on them may cause us to postpone or delay necessary self-care, and it forces us into a reactive, rather than proactive mode. While we may still need interventions that have consequences, they shouldn't be our first line of defense, and we must make those choices without illusions. We can choose actions and mindsets which build our level of health and well-being and help us avoid having to make those hard choices in the first place.
Investing in our self-care doesn't mean that we won't ever face a health crisis — any more than investing in a retirement account means that we won't ever face a financial crisis. Both investments, however, increase the likelihood that our paths will take us where we want to go. Our path to self-care mastery builds clarity, self-wisdom, confidence, vitality, and resilience. Those strengths will serve us well no matter where our journey leads us.
What magic bullets do you see yourself or others hoping for? How has the "myth of the magic bullet" affected their choices or yours? Please share your experiences with me below!