I used to be a compounding pharmacist. I spent some time mixing bio-identical hormones, but the majority of my time was spent consulting with women and their prescribers on the best formulations of those hormones, as well as researching herbs and supplements tailored to each woman suffering from hormone imbalance.
At that time, about twenty years ago, taking soybean supplements was very popular because the media was promoting studies of Japanese women showing that they have a very easy time with menopause. I was skeptical of these products and rarely recommended them. You can’t take an entire culture such as the Japanese and put it in a bottle.
My patients suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings would protest, “But they have no word for ‘hot flash’ in Japan!!” when I suggested a more holistic approach to hormone imbalance.
I explained that the women in Japan ate a very different diet than ours. For example, they ate lots of sea vegetables and fish. The women of Japan were stoic compared to American women and therefore less likely to complain about anything. There could also be a genetic component that we haven’t discovered yet. Taking any prescription or supplement without digging deeper and considering the whole picture isn’t wise.
Bringing Wisdom Back
There is a widespread belief in healthcare that you can put wellness a bottle and cure just anything and everything.
We have plenty of knowledge at our fingertips. There’s so much information available that we’ve gone from the age of information to the age of misinformation in a very short period of time. You can’t take one small bit of information and understand the whole.
What we need is more wisdom. Wisdom is different from intelligence, smarts, and being able to recite facts. It’s the kind of knowing that comes only from experience and having tried and failed often. Wisdom is the understanding that there is a time and place for everything, that you can have everything you want but not at the same time.
Wisdom is that inner knowing that makes you uncomfortable around certain people. It’s that quiet little voice inside you that says, “Don’t eat that, you’ll feel crappy tomorrow.” It’s knowing how your body responds to stress, new medications, and sudden changes in routines. It’s understanding how you think so that you can be objective when you need to be even about your own symptoms.
Since our culture doesn’t value it, people rarely talk about it. Even you may have forgotten you have wisdom. Here are some ways to honor your inner wisdom.
Getting Well Can’t Happen Without You
Intuitively you know that you need to be an active participant in your own wellness.
When I ask people why they are taking a particular medication, they often say, “I don’t know, my doctor told me to take it.” Many don’t know what diseases they have or what their medication is supposed to do for them. Unfortunately, the medical system fosters this ignorance. Too often patients are left to Dr. Google to help themselves understand their illness and the treatments. Because of time constraints built into the system, medical professionals often do not spend enough time explaining things to people. There’s the erroneous assumption that because someone is of a certain age, they’re incapable of learning something complicated like how a disease manifests and how their medications work.
It’s good to understand that doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and naturopaths have the education that you don’t have. They know things about diseases, anatomy, psychology, and pharmacology that you don’t know. So hire good, smart, caring talented people to help you get well. But don’t turn your power over to them.
They can’t make all the decisions that have to be made in order for you to be well. And you know that. Don’t do what we tried to do with the Japanese women and throw out big important pieces of the picture. Don’t disregard the wisdom that you have about yourself, your body, and your mind. This wisdom is shaped by your personal experiences.
I once had a patient who told me that she was afraid to tell her doctor that she knew she would have an allergic reaction to the medication I had just handed her. She explained to me that she was willing to override her own inner knowing because her doctor was smarter than she was. Her doctor was really smart, but her doctor didn’t have the deep understanding that this woman had about her own body with medications. Lucky for this woman, her doctor was also wise and compassionate. Once this woman came forward with her concerns, the doctor changed the medication.
It’s wise to hire qualified and talented nurses, doctors, naturopaths, and therapists. It’s also wise to remember that the decisions about your health are ultimately yours to make.
Ask Yourself, “Is it Wise?”
You may have lost touch with your wisdom. Perhaps you’ve been ignoring that still, small voice inside. You might even wonder if it’s even in there anymore. I assure you, it is.
Here are some prompts to help you tune into your inner wisdom. Read over them and see if any apply to you.
Begin each sentence with “Is it wise……”
To start a new medication while under extreme new stressors?
To start several new medications at one time, when I know that I am sensitive to medications?
To quit working out in the middle of a big life change, even though I know that my body needs the exercise?
To spend too much time reading about my disease or new medication on the internet, when I know that this leads to fear and anxiety?
To ignore my intuition about my new doctor, when it’s telling me she just isn’t a good fit for me?
To silence myself, even though I have the feeling that I’m having a bad reaction to my medication?
To deny myself the rest and recreation that I know I need to feel my best?
To withhold important pieces of information from my doctors, when I know that if I tell them, they’ll be better able to serve me?
If any of these apply to you, then tap into your inner courage which is probably hanging out right now with your inner wisdom. We often know the right answers but we are afraid to speak up for ourselves.
Just like you, I sometimes don’t speak up for myself like I should. To help me get the courage to speak my truth, I like to pretend that wisdom hangs out with courage. Those two of my best allies. Anytime I need them, they are there for me to use.
Find ways to honor your inner wisdom so that you fully participate in your wellness journey. What you know about yourself is a vital piece of the wellness picture. You can’t just leave it out. Just like we can’t decide diet and culture of Japanese women doesn’t count. You can’t replace it with something else. Just like you can’t fix hormone imbalance with bottled soybean extract.
It’s okay if you’ve forgotten to trust your inner wisdom. It’s not too late to make a course correction. You can tap into it again, by listening to that small voice inside of you. That voice still knows what’s best for you.