How To Be Your Own Healthcare HeroDec 27, 2022
To face a health challenge, you must reclaim your power and agency as the hero of your own story - just like the protagonist in your favorite book or movie.
Navigating your healthcare journey doesn’t always feel like a simple, straightforward path. To move forward confidently on your path to healing, you need to be able to clear any subconscious roadblocks standing in your way. You need to connect to a deeper sense of purpose to act as your guide, motivator, and touchstone.
But most importantly, you need to start viewing yourself as your own healthcare hero.
Health challenges aren’t just intimidating to us because of the physical symptoms they manifest. They represent deeper fears - that we don’t know what the future holds for us, and that we don’t have control over our own lives.
That’s why an important part of your healthcare journey is reminding yourself that you’re the hero of your own story. To move forward, you must reclaim power and agency in your own life. Remember - this is your journey. You get to decide your path, every step of the way.
Not sure how to start? Well, just picture your life like your favorite book or movie…
The Hero’s Journey meets the healthcare journey
For as long as there have been stories, there have been heroes going on journeys. And while the events of these journeys differ, many of the specific steps the hero takes along the way are actually the same. In fact, millions of fictional narratives from every genre and era of storytelling follow a set pattern known as “The Hero’s Journey.” The structure was first outlined by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces:
“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.”
Essentially, Campbell breaks down every hero’s journey into three key phases: the call to action, the adventure into the unknown, and the return home to the familiar. You’ll recognize this pattern in many of your favorite fictional stories, but it’s actually a helpful way to view your own story - particularly your healthcare journey. By mapping your own journey of healing onto the beats of the fictional Hero’s Journey, you can anticipate the future and better navigate your step-by-step path.
Here’s how Campbell’s concept of the Hero’s Journey translates to your own healthcare journey.
Phase 1: Answering your call
In our favorite books and films, the story only begins when the protagonist does or encounters something that changes the course of their life. They are called to act - to make a change - leaving their familiar life behind to begin a new path. (Think about Peter Parker being bitten by a spider, or Gandalf telling Frodo he must carry the Ring.)
On your personal healing journey, your call to action comes when you first acknowledge a health challenge. Like the heroes of stories, you might at first feel resistant to answering your call. (Remember how Frodo first tried to avoid taking the Ring?) You may avoid acknowledging a diagnosis, delay making lifestyle changes, or otherwise try to keep your life the same as it was before your health challenge.
But just like a fictional story can’t progress until the hero accepts their journey, your own journey through life and healing can’t begin until you acknowledge your health is real and influencing your life. Once you answer your call by accepting your wellness reality, your new story begins.
The Hero’s Journey
Your Healthcare Journey
Phase 2: Journeying through the unknown
So, you’ve accepted your journey. What happens next?
In stories, after the hero answers their call, they begin an adventure into the unfamiliar. It’s a time of challenge and conflict, but also great learning and growth. Think about the labors of Hercules, or the training montage in every sports movie.
An individual doesn’t transform into a true hero and solve all of their problems overnight. They have to learn about their new world, their abilities, and their limitations, so they can craft a plan to accomplish their goals. For your healing journey, this often starts with your own “training” phase where you learn about your health challenge from trusted sources. By speaking with your physician and reaching out to others facing similar challenges, you can better understand the impact of your diagnosis on your life now and in the future.
But a journey where there are no obstacles to overcome isn’t much of a journey at all. Our storybook heroes often find themselves facing setbacks on their path. But when they rise to meet these challenges, they learn more about themselves and their new reality, giving them the strength and experience to overcome other challenges in the future. When looking ahead on your healing journey, remember that the path isn’t always easy or straightforward. Rather than feeling discouraged by setbacks, know that every challenge you face serves a purpose, whether it’s to teach you something new or to help you recognize your own resiliency.
A journey is not a race to be won
This phase of the fictional hero’s journey is the longest - it’s what we think of as the “main” story. Similarly, it will be the longest phase in your healing journey. This step includes 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 phase of the journey that varies the most from person to person. Each of us have different backgrounds, needs, and health concerns, so there’s no one “right” way to navigate your healthcare journey. The most important thing to remember is that this is a journey, not a race. Learning and adapting to your specific circumstances is all a part of the process.
The Hero’s Journey
Your Healthcare Journey
Phase 3: Returning, reflecting, and teaching
In the final phase of the journey, the hero completes the cycle by returning to where they started. But it’s not exactly where they started, because they’ve been fundamentally changed by everything they’ve learned and experienced on their journey. Dorothy wakes up in Kansas with a new view of life; Simba reclaims Pride Rock; Neo vows to save humanity from The Matrix.
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. From this transformation comes a new beginning for the hero - just like the new beginning you experience on your healing journey.
As you reflect on your path, consider everything you’ve learned about your wellbeing, your capacity for growth and adaptation, your resilience, and your ability to overcome obstacles. Then, as you set out to experience the next great phase of your life’s path, share what you’ve learned so far with others. Even though your personal healthcare journey will always be fundamentally different from other people’s, your support and encouragement can mean a lot to those whose own trials and challenges have left them discouraged.
The Hero’s Journey
Your Healthcare Journey
Are you ready to be your own hero?
Being your own healthcare hero doesn’t mean you have to walk alone on your path. Mapping our healing journeys onto the fictional Hero’s Journey model only reinforces how important having a support network really is. (Where would Luke Skywalker be without Han, Leia, R2D2, Chewie, and everyone else who helped him become a Jedi?)
Accepting both your healthcare challenge and the power you have as the hero of your own story allows you to take control of your healing journey. Rather than wishing for the unreachable past, you can walk confidently in the direction of your optimal future.
More ways to be your own healthcare hero
No matter the health challenge you face, healing begins with your decision to actively engage with your health. Take our holistic approach to healthcare into your own hands by learning to deconstruct your subconscious blocks, redefine disease and healing, and more with My RBI Academy. We’ll send you new tips and tricks for improving your cognitive health, all backed by our years of medical expertise and grounded in our holistic six pillar approach.