What words are you using to describe yourself?
Do you resemble those old people rocking on the front porch comparing surgery scars and doctors’ diagnosis? One of those who answer anyone else’s health concerns like loaded shotgun shells – with “Well, if you think that’s bad, just listen to this.”
One of my audience guests told me recently that when she used to ask someone how they were – as a courtesy opening line – they would usually respond, “Fine.” She said that now its thirty minutes later after they have catalogued all their ailments and surgical procedures! I explained that maybe it was time to change the question into something which would allow the person’s answer to not be so focused on their health.
Health concerns and diagnosis are growing at such a fast pace as more and more “syndromes” get accepted as appropriate medical conditions. ‘I can’t eat that, I have…” “I can’t drink that, I have…” “I can’t do that, I have…”
Our society is starting to define themselves by what ails them – not what they may have to contribute or their talents or aspirations.
This used to be the purview of older people, but now, it’s any age.
I understand. I did that once myself.
I had so many illnesses, surgeries, and conditions that I defined myself by that and its limitations. Then, one day I had what I called a “death nap.” In the middle of the afternoon, I laid down and my whole life flashed before my eyes – beginning to end, chronicling everything I‘d done, things I wished I HAD done and things I wish I hadn’t done. When I woke up, I had an epiphany – I could either BE my disease or just be someone who had it. And that decision – to just be someone who had it, changed my life.
I started focusing on what I could do, not on what I couldn’t.
Could I walk a mile? No, but I could walk a block.
Could I take a full-course load of college classes? No, but I could take one class. And those baby steps allowed me to reclaim my life and move forward to create a new reality for myself – one predicated on hope, endurance, and accomplishment.
I started college in 1966 and I graduated from college in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Cultural Studies with a concentration on the Far and Middle East. A dream I had had since high school. It wouldn’t have become reality if I had continued to view myself by what I couldn’t do.
Change the conversation.
When someone starts chronicling their health condition, switch the focus, ask questions which prompt different responses.
If you know someone who is fixated on their diagnosis, then asking the question, “How are you?” wouldn’t be productive. Make statements which require a different focus, like, “Wow, that’s a great color on you. How did you choose that?” Or, “What was it you wanted to be as a kid?” Or, “If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?”
These questions allow you to learn more about the person you are conversing with without having them define themselves in “disease” conditions.
It’s time we all started listening to the words we use to describe ourselves.
Words have power.
How many times have you said you didn’t want something to happen and, bam, it did? And how many times have you said, “Wow, I’d really like that” and, bam, it happened. What reality do you want to create? Start seeing yourself as well. Start seeing and speaking about yourself in terms of wellness instead of disease and see what happens.
It’s all about perspective.
Change what questions you ask and change how you answer questions. Who knows what an incredible life you will create for yourself…
Benefit from the Adapter Factor
Linda Lynch-Johnson is available for keynote, breakout sessions and spousal programs for your next event.
Let her help you use The Adapter Factor to thrive. She can be reached through her agent, Jennifer Lier at Las Vegas Keynote Speakers by calling 702-706-4037, or by using the button below…