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3 steps to being your own health hero

3 steps to being your own health hero

Jun 16, 2023

You’re the hero of your own story - even when health challenges make you feel like you’re no longer writing it. Take back control of your hero’s journey today.


Have you ever heard the expression “You’re the hero of your own story”? 

It’s true - you’re basically a Hollywood triple threat! You write, direct, and star in the production of your life every day.

But when you’re facing health challenges, it sometimes feels like someone else has taken control of your narrative. You may feel lost, confused, or frozen by your health issue - not sure what your next move should be or how to reclaim your own story.

When you start to feel out of control, think back to that expression. You’re the hero of your own story. Just like the protagonist of your favorite novel or the lead in a blockbuster movie, you’re the star. You’re not losing control of your life. You’re just beginning a new journey - and you get to decide what that journey looks like.

What is the hero’s journey?

In fact, your real-life journey to health and healing follows the same pattern of millions of fictional stories. That’s not to say there’s necessarily a fictional version of your life floating around out there. It just means there’s already a sort of “game plan” in place that can help you anticipate what to expect along the way (and give you the motivation to see your journey through).

This fictional model is known as “The Hero’s Journey.” The Hero’s Journey is a pattern in storytelling, spanning everything from ancient myths to modern media. Though stories have been around as long as people, the structure of the Hero’s Journey was first outlined in its specifics by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In it, Campbell notes that stories often follow the same narrative pattern, regardless of genre or time period. Campbell describes this pattern in this way:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

The Hero’s Journey outlines three basic phases of a narrative: exposition, conflict, and resolution. Each of these phases can be used to better understand our own health journeys. 

Here’s a look at the three steps of The Hero’s Journey in media, and how you can follow them to reclaim your power and agency in your own wellness journey.

Step 1: your departure

In the Hero’s Journey, the story begins when the Hero is called to act, leaving their familiar life behind to begin a new path. Think of the moment Odysseus is called to fight the Trojans, or when Harry Potter first learns he’s a wizard. 

The Hero may immediately and whole-heartedly begin their journey, or they may take some convincing to answer their call. But either way, their story doesn’t truly begin until they accept the new change in their reality and decide to act because of it. (Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a journey, or indeed a story at all!)

Answering your call

On your personal health journey, you are called to act when you first acknowledge your health challenge. Your call might come in the form of an unexpected diagnosis by a doctor, or simply when you recognize a new difficulty or wellness problem in your everyday life. Your healthcare journey begins when you answer the call, acknowledging your health problem is real and influencing your life. 

Much like for fictional heroes, this first step may feel easier said than done. It’s difficult for many of us to admit we’re struggling. But no matter how the call first reaches you, one thing’s for sure: it can’t be ignored, because your health can’t be ignored. So instead, choose to be the hero of your story. Choose to accept your new reality of someone experiencing a wellness setback. Because once you answer the call, your journey - and your new story - begins.

Questions for step 1 of your hero’s journey

As you answer your call and take the first step of your journey, you may answer the following questions:

  • What health challenge am I facing?
  • Am I prepared to accept the reality of my health challenge?
  • What steps am I willing to take to facilitate my journey to better health?

Once you consider these questions, you will be prepared to enter the next phase in your hero’s journey to healing.

Step 2: Your initiation

After the Hero departs on their journey, their initiation into the unfamiliar begins. This stage is what we consider the “meat” of the story - all the conflict and challenges the Hero faces as they learn to navigate their new reality and accomplish their goals. Picture Katniss’ trials and challenges surviving the Hunger Games, or Woody and Buzz working their way back home to Andy in Toy Story.

It’s during this stage that the Hero truly transforms. As they rise to meet each new challenge, encounter setbacks, and explore their new reality, their journey begins to change them as a person. When the Hero ultimately completes their journey, they will return home with new experiences and a new perspective under their belt.

Learning about your health

An individual doesn’t go from everyday person to hero overnight. They have to learn about their new world, their abilities, and their limitations so they can craft a plan to accomplish their goals. So like Neo learning to control The Matrix, you’ll begin your healthcare journey simply by learning about your health.

During this stage of your journey, you will discuss your health challenges with a trusted physician. You may reach out to other people facing similar challenges, or do some independent research to learn more. Your goal is to better understand how your health issue impacts your life now, how it may impact your life in the future, and what you can do to better understand and mitigate your symptoms. Think of it like your own little training montage - at the end, you’ll emerge better prepared to face the ups and downs of your journey.

Navigating your trials

Again, like fictional heroes, your journey may include challenges that leave you feeling dispirited. Whether it’s an unsuccessful treatment or an unexpected setback in your wellness, it’s important to remember healing isn’t always an easy or straightforward path. Know that every setback comes with a purpose, whether it’s to teach you something new or just to help you recognize your own resiliency in your ability to overcome it.

Questions for step 2 of your hero’s journey

As you find yourself in the depths of your journey, you may seek answers to questions like…

  • What do I need to know about my disease, disorder, or health problem?
  • How does this health challenge affect my daily life now?
  • How might it affect my daily life in the near and distant future?
  • Who can serve as my trusted guide on my healthcare journey?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to manage, control, or alleviate my symptoms?
  • What therapies or medications are available to manage, control, or alleviate my symptoms?
  • How can I maintain my momentum and positive outlook in the face of setbacks on my journey?

This phase of the hero’s journey is the longest, because it encompasses most of the major events we associate with healthcare, like attending doctor’s visits, making diet and activity changes, and starting medications and therapies. For that reason, it’s also the step that varies the most from person to person. Each of us brings different backgrounds, experiences, and concerns to our health journeys, so you may find you have more questions than the ones listed above. 

Once you feel satisfied that you have answered your important questions in this phase, you will find your journey coming to a close in Step 3.

Step 3: Your return

Finally, the Hero returns home from their journey. This stage resolves their narrative arc, giving the Hero the chance to reflect on what they’ve gained and experienced on their journey and how they’ve changed along the way. Imagine the Hobbits returning to The Shire in Lord of the Rings, or Simba reclaiming Pride Rock at the end of The Lion King.

Most importantly, the Hero’s return signifies something deeper and more meaningful than simply the end of their journey. It signifies their new beginning. Having been changed by their journey, they’re not returning as the same person they once were. Everything the Hero experiences and learns on their journey transforms them, so that they close out this chapter of their life ready to begin the next.

Reflecting on your journey

Whether or not a fictional hero returns to the same physical place where their story began, their true journey is demonstrated by how their experience has changed them mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. As you reflect on your health journey, don’t think about your experience in terms of “successes” or “failures.” Instead, think about what you’ve learned about your well-being, your capacity for growth and adaptation, your resilience, and your ability to overcome obstacles. 

Offering insight to others

Remember back during Step 2 of your journey when you sought out the advice of someone with similar experiences? Well, it’s time for the student to become the teacher! Thinking about everything you’ve learned on your healthcare journey, consider what you may be able to offer to others beginning their own journey.

Questions for step 3 of your hero’s journey

As your journey draws to a close and you look towards your new future, you may answer these questions:

  • What did you learn on your journey about your health challenge?
  • What did you learn on your journey about yourself?
  • What do you still hope to learn in the future?
  • What insights can you pass on to others beginning a similar journey? Any recommendations to try or pitfalls to avoid?

Once you have reflected on these questions, you’ll have officially completed your journey! But remember, like any good story, this is just one chapter of your life. Hopefully, you will use your journey to set yourself up for an even more fulfilling and insightful next chapter.

What you gain on your hero’s journey

We mentioned that when it comes to your health, you don’t really have much of a choice when you’re called to begin your journey. But health challenges often leave people feeling anxious and trapped - you’re being forced to change your life, and you don’t know if you’re ready. So, we want to make sure you realize how beneficial taking charge of your own health journey can be.

Here are a few ways accepting your hero’s journey can positively impact your life and overall well-being: 

  • It will make you feel like you have more control over your own life. People facing health challenges often feel out of control, trapped by their circumstances, and unable to move forward. When you decide to actively engage with your health, you regain your role as the active protagonist in your own story. You’re not just someone things happen to - you’re someone who makes things happen. You’re writing your own story, and you can decide what happens next.
  • It will strengthen your resolve to make lifestyle changes. Change can be difficult and downright scary at times. But understanding more about your health and what you can do to improve it will help motivate you to make lifestyle changes, like adjusting your diet or activity level. When you understand your health challenge and the true effect of making step-by-step changes, you’ll find it easier to muster the energy and resolve to transform your life. 
  • It will help you find meaning in your struggle. Viewing your health challenge as an opportunity for change and growth can inspire you to examine your greater purpose. People who feel a strong sense of purpose in their lives have a greater overall sense of well-being. When you accept yourself as you are - health difficulties and all -  you can truly move forward. It’s not about getting back to who you were. It’s about accepting who you are.

 Seeing yourself as the hero leading your own wellness journey can empower you to learn more about your health and to explore different options to address your health challenges. In many ways, healing begins with our mindset; we have to be open and willing to accept ourselves as we are in order to move forward.

How will you answer the call?

It’s time to accept your role as the hero of your own story. So, how will you answer the call?

We know getting started on your health journey can be intimidating. With the pressure of change and the burden of the unknown weighing down on you, you might even feel like you don’t know where to start. 

So, just for today, begin your journey by taking a step back. Before you face the new challenge in front of you, think about challenges you’ve already faced in your past (health related or otherwise). What have you already overcome? And what did you learn from your experience? Try writing down three obstacles you’ve overcome in life, and three things you learned from each experience. 

You may find a little journey down memory lane can help give you the courage to answer the call to your healthcare journey. Later, you might return to your list of triumphs and lessons to motivate you through some of the more taxing parts of your wellness journey.

Start your hero’s journey to healing today

Are you ready to begin your own hero’s journey for your health? If you know it’s time to not just work around your health challenges, but to do something about them, check out My RBI Academy. We’ll send you new tips and tricks for improving your cognitive health each month, all backed by our years of medical expertise and grounded in our holistic six pillar approach.

 

Learn more about My RBI Academy