Ornish Living: Feel better, love better


Get StartedOr call 1-877-888-3091

Love Your Life.

Start Feeling Better Now

Subscribe Now

When we are faced with a scary diagnosis, our health mandates us to wake up and bear witness to what is happening. Understandably, we are frightened by what we see. We feel like a stranger in our own body. Reflexively, we grasp onto a memory of when we felt well and strong: “I used to be an athlete.” “I was head cheerleader in High School.” “When I got married, I weighed 50 pounds less than I do now.” It is human to slide back into the familiar before we can muster the courage to move forward into the unknown.

Proactively naming our needs is a significant sign of self-worth and reawakening vitality

The shattering of our denial of our health problems is painful. We often start the process by entering into the land of “if only.” If only I had done more of “this” and less of “that.” If only that series of events had not happened. If only I had reacted differently. It is a common stress reaction to descend into self-recrimination and blame. However, protracted over time, it can develop into an unconscious habit of giving us permission to be a victim of our circumstances. The danger in assuming this attitude is that we absolve ourselves of doing the hard and necessary work needed to create change. “Oh well.” we resign ourselves, “What’s done is done. I can’t change the past.”

The flip side of the victim coin is the super hero armed with an arsenal of “shoulds,” ready to fire. It could sound like this. ”Even though I’m the caregiver for my mother who has dementia, my unemployed husband, 2 kids in college and I work 60 hours per week as the sole breadwinner, I should have handled my health better; I should have gone to the doctor sooner.”

Both victims and superheroes make for interesting characters in the movies, but in real life they are hard to bear. Superheroes demand perfection. They pride themselves on bullet-proof independence. Victims exhibit unremitting helplessness, eliciting the need for continuous rescuing. More often than not, they pass the responsibility for their welfare on to others. Both do one thing really well. They suck the energy right out of any room. To put it mildly, neither stance has the flexibility nor the compassion needed to move forward towards healing.

Moving out of denial and into taking responsibility for our health concerns will require a careful monitoring of guilt. Feeling guilty for a health problem is a way of apologizing for having needs. But having needs and being “needy” are very different things. Proactively naming our needs, and working toward a comprehensive response to them, is a significant sign of self-worth and reawakening vitality.

This is the healing juncture where countless individuals have turned to the Ornish Program for the scientifically proven tools that it provides. In doing so, we look up and are comforted to find that we are not alone. We set forth on our healing journey, with our team of support around us, with our vision and plan of action in place. We are focused now on progress, not perfection. We are willing to let the past be the past. Now we will be directing our energies toward learning, step by step, how to recover our health and well-being. Denial is over. Our eyes and hands and hearts are open wide to receive the healing we so richly deserve.

Tell us about a wake-up call that prompted you to start taking responsibility for your health?


Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

Better Health Begins With You...

Comment 4