02/05/2015 12:20 pm ET Updated Apr 07, 2015

Is It Time to Stop Being the 'Rock'?


As a naturopathic physician and nutritional expert, I understand that physical healing is a small part of my job. We transcend skin and bones, and the physical is just the surface.

People come to me wanting to feel and look better, but what I've discovered after decades of listening is that they are intrinsically looking for something deeper than that. They want to satisfy their most primal emotional need, which is to feel safe, loved, and important. To achieve optimal health, they must have both their primal physical needs and their primal emotional needs met. So to truly heal them, I need to address body, mind, and soul.

Just like my patients, I have primal emotional needs. But what happens when I get stuck? After all, it's my job to inspire others to push past a negative mindset that's keeping them from feeling complete.

But there I was, a few weeks ago, feeling broken. I knew why I felt the way I did. And in my mind, I knew I needed to get "unstuck" and move on. So in my mind, I said, NEXT! And I willed myself to move forward into whatever life had in store for me.

But my heart said -- not this time, kiddo.


I thought about what I tell my patients. Don't feel pain alone. Don't worry alone. It's okay to pick up the phone and tell someone, "I need support right now." Have people in your life -- I call them your inner circle -- who you know will love and support you and your vision. And when you start to lose that vision, call them.

However, reaching out and saying, "Hey, I need to talk" is not a familiar place for me. Frankly, it's uncomfortable. I am the "rock" in just about every circle of my life.

But I know that people come into my life for a reason -- and that includes a friend who's had to grow up fast because of her life experiences. And with this comes a thick layer of wisdom and honesty.

So I called her.

This friend really gave it to me. She held nothing back. It was unadulterated tough love. I knew she would, and I knew she would also give me the wisdom and insight I needed. She was not talking rainbows and sunshine here. It was more like, "You need to stand still and think. You need to remember all you've been through to get to where you are. I will let nothing stand in the way of what you've worked so hard for -- not even you!" She refused to let me sabotage one more second of my life.

After that call, I did stand still. I meditated. I thought deeply about what she said. The next day, I saw total clarity. Now that time has passed, I get it: My heart had to catch up to what my head already knew. I became unstuck and felt my strength reboot.

Here's my point: If you are feeling stuck, don't go through it alone. If you feel invisible, don't go through it alone. If you are worrying, don't go through it alone.

You don't have to. If you are like me, and feel that strength means you deal with things yourself, try and look at this sideways. What I have learned is it actually endears you to people when they see you are beautifully imperfect, just as they are. Helping you to feel safe, loved, and important helps them feel the same.

And here's something else: Reaching out can stop you from making seriously unhealthy choices. For instance, I know that when I get stuck, I start looking for comfort foods. For other people, it's booze or drugs or cigarettes. There are reasons why we seek out these things when we're feeling low. We're looking for a "change of state." We're looking to change our chemistry in any way we can. Our bodies are smart, and what they're really looking for is feel-good hormones.

A healing conversation can generate these same hormones -- without the guilt or regret later. So if you're stuck, and you're about to do something that will make things worse, make that call to someone you love and trust. Then stop, stand still, and think about what you're doing before you go totally off the rails.

Trust me. You don't always need to be the rock. Sometimes -- just sometimes -- it's wiser to turn that job over to someone else.