If you’re struggling with achieving your health goals now is a great time to ask why. What is holding you back from getting where you want to be mentally, physically and emotionally? There are number of barriers that can get in the way of getting where you want to be. Achieving total wellness is about jumping over these barriers and making a concerted effort to gaining control of all areas of wellness.

World view remains an extremely influential component of beliefs. It impacts the way an individual interprets their experiences, challenges, and the people around them. Often used in the field of mental health, world view helps mental health professionals understand where their clients are coming from to better help them achieve success. The same concept can be used when evaluating what is holding you back from achieving your goals. Is there something in your worldview that is inhibiting your ability to move forward?

Worldview is impacted by a number of things; an individual’s family and how they were raised, the culture in which they’ve grown up as well as the experiences that shaped the person they are today. Each one of these elements has played a role in the person you are. Sometimes these elements influence your life positively, and other times they can actually inhibit your personal growth. Learning what your world view is, and how it impacts your life, will help you move towards achieving your goals into the future.


Many people don’t understand the profound impact that their family can have on their health and wellness. Family greatly influences an individual’s value system, behaviors, expectations, and decision making. Family is not the only influencer on these elements, however, it remains an important feature to take into consideration when evaluating barriers to achieving total wellness.

There is certainly something to be said for the environment in which one grows up. Some family environments support healthy development, independence and individual responsibility. Other families may support a lack of personal responsibility and life-long dependence. One can imagine how remarkably different two individuals would look growing up in households as different as these. The same theory can be applied to an individual’s health and wellness.

Growing up in a family that doesn’t value health and wellness could very well impact an individual’s understanding of and value of health and wellness. Self-destructive behaviors such as alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse, drug abuse, obesity, and other behavioral problems can often be seen across familial lines. It’s important to understand that, while some of these behaviors have a genetic component, one of the primary reasons they are seen across families is because of the learned behaviors associated with them.

Alcohol abuse, tobacco abuse and drug abuse are all behaviors associated with addiction. Research tells us that addiction holds a genetic component, however, environment also plays a role in this. Have you ever heard of the phrase “nature versus nurture”? It refers to the concept that some behaviors occur naturally while others are nurtured by the environment. Addiction is both nature and nurture. If you have grown up in an addicted family, or have addicted family members that doesn’t necessarily mean you will become addicted. However, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge these behaviors and how they may have impacted who you are today.

Obesity, similar to addiction, may also have a nature and nurture component. Obesity may be prevalent in families genetically as well as behaviorally. It’s not hard to understand why obesity in families is behavioral. Consider the fact that for many families, food is very much a cultural and familial experience. Family dinners, parties and even every day occasions often represent a spread of high fat, high carb, and high calorie foods. For example; Italians are often known for their pizza and pasta while Polish people are often are known for pierogis and sausage. If a family is raised on high fat, high carb, high calorie foods, they’re more likely to eat those kinds of foods as adults as well as to feed that food to their children. It’s well known that consuming these types of foods on a regular basis can contribute to obesity, heart disease and other chronic illness. It’s a chain reaction. If you add in exercise or lack thereof, you’ll see a continued trend.

Aside from addiction and obesity, there are other learned behaviors that can come from family. Communication patterns and coping skills are a couple. Learning to communicate effectively begins in childhood with interactions between children, their siblings, their parents and the environment around them. Poor communication patterns during this time can set the stage for difficulty communicating later on in life. Similarly, coping skills are also learned during childhood. While children have their own, innate coping skills, they also learn from observing their parents. Coping skills are impactful on an individual’s ability to manage adversity when it comes.

Family can play a great influence on an individual’s health and wellness. Genetic and learned behaviors combined can either inhibit or enhance an individual’s physical and mental health. When considering what role your family has played in your health or wellness, it’s important to recognize that while family can influence outcomes, it doesn’t necessarily define them. If your family environment has not supported your health and wellness, there is always room for change and growth.

Culture & Society

There is certainly something to be said for culture, society and their impact on health and wellness. The United States is a prime example of this. Obesity is an epidemic in this country. The National Institute of Health estimates that over 68% of adults are obese. Obesity statistics continue to rise along with statistics for chronic illnesses such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Doctors continue to treat patients with high cholesterol and hypertension with medication. However, medication remains only one piece of the problem. The larger problem, however, is the dietary habits of the nation as a whole and the lack of physical exercise contributing to obesity which contributes to all of the aforementioned chronic illnesses.

As a society and culture that consumes a diet heavy in processed foods, high in fat and carbohydrates, it is not rocket science to understand why obesity statistics are on the rise. The convenience of fast food, lack of physical exercise, and overall poor understanding of nutrition as a whole contributes to a widely obese culture. Further, as a culture of instant gratification, a large percentage of the population believes that taking a pill will counteract their poor health behaviors. For example, an individual takes his cholesterol medicine every day and so he justifies eating bacon on a daily basis. This sounds crazy, right? Well it is. And it’s happening all of the time. If you’re not aware, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the beliefs and practices of the culture. Self-awareness, education and a willingness to strive for more will keep you on the track towards total wellness.

The Past

Decisions from the past that have resulted in failure often leave a scar. This scar can cause fear about making the same mistake twice. While the past really has no immediate bearing on the future, it’s often understood to be an element that holds people back.

If there is something from your past that is holding you back from your future, it’s important to recognize and acknowledge that this experience is over, and while it may not have been positive, it has shaped the person you are today. You are where you are today, in part, because of the past. You have learned, grown and become a stronger person because of your past experiences. Rather than view them as negative, look at them with a positive spin. They have helped you become you, and they will help you grow into your future.

Moving Into the Future

“The world is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts we can change the world.” –H.L Tomlinson

“Changing your values and beliefs is necessary in order to experience lasting change in your mood, outlook and productivity.” –David Burns, MD

Both of the above quotes are perfect snippets of inspiration and encouragement. They serve to provide a reminder that regardless of what your current worldview looks like, each individual has the ability to change his/her own thoughts and create lasting changes in all aspects of life. Regardless of what barriers stand in the way; family, society, cultural, or past experiences, one truth remains evident. The future is waiting. With education, acknowledgement and effort, it’s absolutely possible to change thoughts, values and beliefs to be more consistent with a life of total wellness. Your experiences, family, past and culture have greatly impacted the person you are today. However, they don’t define that person. That person is defined by his/her choice for the future.

Christopher Burton, MD
Christopher Burton, MD

Christopher Burton, MD is a physician, speaker, coach and author, practicing in Pensacola, FL. He specializes in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions - particularly those of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems - that may produce temporary or permanent impairment of function. Dr. Burton also provides one-on-one Health & Wellness Coaching for select clients who want to improve their life significantly. In addition to his practice and coaching, he actively lectures on health, nutrition and exercise for healthcare groups, colleges, and businesses, and travels internationally teaching on various topics including the treatment and rehabilitation of athletes.