Find someone who has a life that you want and figure out how they got it. Read books. Pick your role models wisely. Find out what they did and do it. -Lana Del Ray
When you have a health condition of any kind, whether it’s a chronic illness, excess weight, high blood pressure, cancer or something else, finding and evaluating treatment options can be an overwhelming job. One of the best, but often overlooked, ways to make that research easier is to find role models —people who have or had a health condition similar to yours and have significantly improved their health the way that you want to improve yours.
Successful role models can save you years of struggle by helping you choose an effective healing path sooner. These people can be fountains of wisdom and support and can help you think outside of your particular box and explore new modes of healing. They can introduce you to effective healing regimes or medical treatments, help you avoid reinventing the wheel, and give you valuable tips on adopting any new self-care practices or managing any treatment that you choose.
I want to acknowledge that doing the research necessary to find these people can take time and be emotionally draining, and that you will find more dead ends than helpful leads. Health care is not one-size-fits-all. What worked for someone else may not work for you. But, it might. And, after you’ve weighed any risks and checked in with your health care advisers, it may well be worth a try. It’s a good idea to get someone to do the research with you occasionally, and to keep expectations low at the beginning of the search.
I wish that I had focused on finding these role models earlier in my quest for whole health. In late 2007, after five years of trying countless alternative and conventional treatments to treat what was diagnosed as chronic Lyme disease and felt like full-time flu, I decided that I wasn’t going to try another health intervention until I found at least two people with chronic Lyme disease and/or chronic fatigue syndrome who had been completely healed by it. Within a few months, I found a handful of people who had been completely cured by the plant-based healing diet and lifestyle that I eventually adopted. Six months after I found and spoke with them, I was well on my way to full health. One of them was also a health coach. Doing a series of sessions with her was instrumental to me in successfully taking on my new diet and lifestyle. I simply could not have taken on that difficult change without their example, encouragement, and mentoring.
To make this research effective and to avoid scams and dead ends, you want to look—not just for treatments—but for individuals who meet very specific criteria and with whom you can talk; people who:
- Had or have your health condition or a set of symptoms similar to yours.
- Have fully achieved the health goal that you are trying to achieve.
- Have been in their new, improved healthier state for at least one full year, preferably two.
- Do not seem to be trying to get rich off of selling a “miracle cure.” Respectfully marketing a book or offering coaching is great, but be wary of hard-sellers or people who refuse to give away their “secret” until you pay them a large amount.
- Are available to contact by e-mail or phone to set up a short conversation.
- Sound balanced, grounded, and trustworthy when speaking to them.
So, how does one go about looking for these healing models? Below is a list of possible routes to try, keeping in mind the two seemingly opposing truths that 1) There are a lot of scammers out there and 2) You never know who or what might give you the information and inspiration you need, so keep an open mind.
- Do an Internet search of your health condition plus key words like cured, healed, got off medications, symptom-free, pain-free, diet, exercise, treatment, my story, or a specific treatment that you are interested in.
- Ask in chat forums, FB groups, and e-mail LISTSERVs on your health condition.
- Ask health-care providers whom you trust for leads.
- Ask your friends and family to keep their eyes and ears open.
- Make it a high-priority research project. Think like an investigative journalist.
- Always keep a list of treatments you want to try and people whom you want to contact.
- When you find someone, run any new treatment they recommend past one or two health-care providers whom you trust and who are also committed to keeping an open mind.
Of course, this search does not guarantee success. Yet, no matter what happens, you will discover some amazing, inspiring people and learn a great deal about the healing options out there for you. You may even find the key to unlock the best health you could possibly imagine. You don’t have to do your healing work alone. You deserve mentors and role models to help you through it.
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