I have a confession to make. When I was on the plane flying to Fargo, North Dakota in order to give my third TEDx talk, “Is Medicine Killing You?” I was SO FREAKED OUT. I do a lot of public speaking, so this wasn’t so much a stage fright phobia like the one you have in your dream when you walk out on stage and realize you’re naked. (Not that I don’t still fall victim to that one!) This time, in a way that was different than when I gave my first TEDx talk The Shocking Truth About Your Health and my second Is There Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself?, I was trembling in my boots because of the content I was about to deliver. I knew I was going to be taking my message a quantum leap beyond what I said in my last two TEDx talks, and I was well aware that I’d be opening a giant can of worms. My fear was that I would alienate the very people I seek to serve, that doctors would think I was throwing them under the bus by suggesting that medicine is killing us, and that patients would think I was blaming them for their illness by suggesting that stress causes disease.
As I confessed during my talk, I had a meltdown on the plane on the way to Fargo and reached out to one of my sheroes, Brené Brown, for support. Brené said exactly what I needed to hear, which shifted how I was thinking, so I wound up rewriting half my speech in the 11th hour. Brené helped me realize that my role in healing health care requires that I remain neutral, that although I long ago left the dogmatic camp of conventional Western medicine, with its skeptical views of mind-body medicine, I also couldn’t get roped into the equally dogmatic camp of those who are anti-medicine, who believe we are poisoning ourselves if we agree to accept whatever drugs or surgeries our doctors dole out to help us heal.
I got clear on my role. I am Switzerland, and in order to be a force for healing our broken health care system, I have to avoid getting co-opted into any one camp. This realization saved me. I suddenly know what I needed to say. Watch the end result here!
I knew this was going to be my tough love TEDx talk, but I also wanted to deliver the uncomfortable truth with so much tenderness and compassion. So the intention I set before getting on stage was that I would throw a love bomb into the audience so that the medicine you really need would go down with a spoonful of sugar.
I didn’t want to dumb the message down, or shy away from saying something provocative. I knew I needed to illuminate something that, for many patients and health care providers, is a massive blind spot. I knew some people wouldn’t want to hear this message. But I also wanted to make sure people know that I care so much about this because I want you all to fully live this one wild and precious life.
So please, I want to know- did I pull it off? Or could I have done it better? How can I keep refining my message so I don’t alienate those I seek to serve but also don’t make myself so vanilla that I’m impotent? How can I make it clear that we still need modern medicine- and we need soul medicine in addition? I’d love to hear your wisdom.
With love and gratitude,
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grass roots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself. Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com