A vital aspect of health responsibility is being willing to partner with others to ensure our best possible quality of life. Asking for help is not weakness – it is a strength that develops over time as we identify our needs and are open enough to request the support we need.
Being honest about how we feel – physically, mentally, and emotionally – invites others to participate in our life and have a hand in our journey toward wellness. Remember that inviting others into your health experience can be uncomfortable at first, but in the long run, you can develop a strong team of knowledgeable and invested advocates who are on your side – and we all need a little help now and then.
Medical Care Providers: One of the most empowering steps we can take is to transform our relationships with nurses, physicians, dentists, social workers, physiotherapists, and other providers of medical care into true partnerships. All too often we may be in the position of needing help and we give all of our power to those professionals working in hospitals and clinics. I
t becomes a paternalistic dynamic where “they” are the experts and “we” are the novices. But we are the experts of how we feel, what we want, and which solutions are most appropriate for our lifestyle and circumstances.
We have the right to ask questions, to have interventions explained before they are implemented, to co-create treatment plans, and to be respected as fully thinking, seeing, and feeling human beings. If you do not believe your provider is in partnership with you, take a stand for yourself and your care and redirect the interaction.
Family and Friends: Many people spend so much energy hiding their health conditions, feeling ashamed or uncomfortable, that they can actually start to isolate themselves. Find those family members and friends that you can depend on, open up to, and be honest with about the barriers experienced as a part of your health condition.
Invite them to partner with and support you as you move through any challenges ahead. It can be intimidating to lay it out there on the table, but as Brené Brown says, share your story with those who have earned the right to hear it. Be selective about who you are vulnerable with and you may find you have new allies and partners in your quest for optimal well-being.
Community Members: Create or find a support group for people who are also experiencing your challenge or condition.
Allow them to tell their stories. Share yours honestly. Inspire, learn from, and guide each other. New bonds may emerge that will help you to remain engaged in the community and improve your perspective on the meaning behind your illness and how to invent new possibilities for health. These partnerships are invaluable as a source of solidarity and human connection.
Health responsibility means we not only identify our needs, but that we create the partnerships that will get us to our goals. The opportunities are all around you.
Billy Rosa is a Registered Nurse, Integrative Nurse Coach Visiting Faculty, University of Rwanda