We receive a lot of questions daily from our clients, but one that I received recently from a teenage girl, whose mother I work with, is worth sharing.
Here is her question followed by my answer.
She, like so many kids these days, gets sick often—so much more frequently than when I was her age living in Japan. She already had been sick several times this semester and had been so “sick and tired” of falling behind in school and feeling miserable that she reached out to me. “ I’d like to know why it seems that I am sick all the time. Every week it seems like I have something going on with me. What should I do?”
Keep in mind that both her mother and I had been “trying” to get her to shift her eating habits and having her pay more attention to overall health for several years now to no avail, so I was a bit surprised to receive this text from her.
Chris and I talk a lot about the scale we call “Readiness to Change”.
We ask our clients to indicate their pain, discomfort, frustration, complaints, feeling stuck, etc. on the scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being no pain or discomfort, and 10 being utterly unbearable for a second longer.
Obviously by the time our clients find us and come and see us they are usually not at 1 or 2 on this scale, and most of them will come in saying how incredibly miserable they are, and they seem to be genuinely willing to do some work to shift their lives.
However, an interesting thing happens as soon as we start to get down to the real business of making the concrete changes necessary for their healing journey.
Some of them will come up with reasons for not doing what we are suggesting.
We have learned to simplify and work with what is possible for that particular client and meet them where they are, but one thing we ask at that point is to give us the number between 1 to 10 in terms of their discomfort, pain, frustrations and so forth. How bad is it, really? What happens is that more often than not, these clients that came to see us (many of them in tears) will give us a number less than 10!
“It is so bad! I can’t do this anymore. I must be at, like, 8-8 ½!” One client said this to me while sobbing, after several months of sessions. To that—and you might at first find this harsh—I said, “Well, it must not be bad enough for you yet. Come back and let’s talk about it again when you are at 10. That’s when I’ll know you are ready to make the necessary changes.” At once her tears abruptly stopped and she had the look of a deer in the headlights. But she understood my message. From that point forward she completely changed her lifestyle, made 100 percent commitment to her health and wellbeing, she even changed her career, and became what she was meant to be on this earth—bright, loving, and an influential change-maker. She even found a fabulous life partner.
So, was this teenager ready enough on the “Is It Bad Enough to Change” 1-to-10 scale? Was she giving me 10, a “go” for her commitment?
Not even close, and I knew that upon receiving her text. If I gave her a long list of “health plans”, she would be overwhelmed and simply shut down. These days, teenagers are bombarded with homework, after school activities, stress from social media--and let’s face it--just being a teenager is hard enough no matter what. So I had to make my move carefully, and I reminded her that she has what it takes to be healthy, and that she is personally responsible for her day-to-day choices.
I listed the following three things for her, after explaining to her that her question is a good but very complex one, because your overall health involves food, water, sleep, stress, supplements, digestion, relationships, EMF exposures, toxins, etc. etc.
1) Drink plenty of pure water, plain water. No colored drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, juice, or carbonated drinks.
2) Never eat foods that have been microwaved, since they are “dead” foods (I knew that she was eating a lot of microwavable mac and cheese after school)
3) Cut out packaged foods as much as possible and eat REAL foods like fresh vegetables, good fats, and protein
Lastly I suggested she take mini-rests whenever possible, say on weekends. If she has 10 minutes, put the electronic devices down and close her eyes to shift her nervous system from sympathetic to parasympathetic.
So, there you have it. I am not sure how many of the suggestions I texted she will be able or willing to follow, but I know from teaching 5th, 6th, and 7th graders in Japan for several years, and from Chris teaching in K-12 for 10 years, that we have to constantly repeat the same messages without getting frustrated, because this is simply human nature—we learn and retain information by repeating it dozens and hundreds of times.
Perhaps the list above plus noticing when you are tired and needing to take a break from your devices are something all of us can do a better job with. And this means I need to end this piece as well, since I have been sitting here in front of the computer for several hours now and need to get a glass of pure water.