Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Post #57: Questioning Authority

The other night at a party, I overheard a conversation about the drug OxyContin (a prescription opioid painkiller) being a popular drug of choice on the street. I don't usually keep up with such trends, but this morning in the waiting room of my doctor's office, I spied a magazine article about this very topic, and decided to take a look at it.

Predictably, the article was alarming in what it revealed, but it served to confirm a growing suspicion/gut-feeling for me about Western medical practices, which is that we individuals must ultimately be in charge of our own health and well-being. Doctors may mean well, and not all pharmaceutical companies intend to exploit consumers, but it appears that our healthcare systems may be doing as much harm to patients as they are doing good. And it's not all their fault.

What do I mean by this? Let me start by sharing that many years ago, I heard a statistic about prescription drugs being the leading cause of death in the United States. Since doctors are the prescribers of these lethal culprits, I couldn't help but make the obvious association. I did this out loud and in the presence of my elderly great aunt, who immediately became agitated and told me that I should never question the authority of my doctors. It was as if, in her eyes, her doctors were the demi-gods whose care determined whether she should live or die, and even asking relevant questions was somehow an act of disrespect toward these superhumans.

Hmm...interesting. Most of us would raise our eyebrows and disagree that we should employ blind faith with regard to our medical doctors, but the fact is that most of us actually do so on a regular basis. Even I (who am a strong advocate of following one's internal guidance), recently let a doctor talk me into taking a medication that I knew was not good for my body. Why did I do it? Because of the same old programming that my elderly aunt communicated so articulately: doctors know more about what's good for us than we do.

So, what's to be done? (Afterall, most of us are not trained to know the difference between a spleen and a sprain). I believe that there are lots of great information and advice providers in the world. Some of them are doctors, some are lawyers, some are accountants, grocery store clerks, hairdressers, therapists, waiters, gardeners, plumbers, bloggers, etc. They may know more about their field of expertise than you do, but they don't know more about you than you do.

Any "expert" advice you receive, from what brand of corn flakes to buy to whether or not to undergo brain surgery, is ultimately your own decision, and one that you are responsible for making. And the best way I know to make good decisions on a regular basis is to learn how to tap into and trust your own foolproof inner guidance. When we weigh any information or advice we receive against the wisdom of our Higher Selves, we will quickly (or at least eventually) make the best life choices for ourselves.

If you'd like to learn more, please check out the following relevant articles from this blog:
Posts #4-7: Following Your Inner Guidance, etc. (2/15/11-3/8/11)
Post #21: What Blocks Higher Guidance? (6/14/11)
Post #43: Just Checking In (11/29/11)
Post #48-50: How To Be A Pain Buster (three parts, 1/3/12-3/8/12)

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