Is it enough to inform patients?
There are many handouts I make available for patients at initial visits specific to their conditions and concerns. But I’ve found on follw up visits that some feel overwhelmed and do not even read the materials. What to do? These patients know how to read, they know it is specifically for them and their situation and yet they are shy to learn more.
I’ve found this is especially the case with people who’ve had longstanding problems and that it is mainly for them a combination of two reasons: disbelief that a simple practical change in their life like diet changes will magically help them, that they will not know how to do it right and it won’t work and they’ll have wasted their time at the least embarassed themselves in failing.
What is the underlying theme here? Fear.
Both of these reactions are fear based, one is fear of success and the other fear of failure—how can they be the same? They are really fear of change. It’s hard to admit, I know from my own experiences, that something that is a big problem has also shaped daily life and to change it creates a kind of vacuum in the conscious mind, perhaps you’ve also experienced thoughts something similar to this—“What will replace this? If I do this my life might change in drastic ways, and I’m not sure how I will cope with the changes—after all I’ve been coping well enough with the current situation because I’ve made it this far.”
If that’s so, please try this simple exercise:
Take a moment now and close your eyes, relax and think about how it is truly impossible to be afraid of the unknown, and that all this time your fear of change is that it will be one of many known and unwanted results. Perhaps you can list 15 of the most crazy unwanted results you can come up with, be as far out there as you can get. Really, go for it, if you can get more than 15 write them down. The point is to take it so far that you know you are creating worst case scenarios that keep you from moving out of your current patterns. That’s right, it needs more balance so now think of 15 positive results that are not so far out there at all- in fact they’re the intended goals of practical suggestions!
For example, quit smoking possibilities:
WCS: I’ll never be relaxed again. I’ll never get outdoors enough. I’ll probably die healthy. I’ll bite nails to the quick. I’ll chew so much gum I’ll be up at night with the aching jaws. I’ll get so fat, I won’t be able to get in my car. I’ll be fidgeting so much that people will think I’m on drugs. I’ll get sugar diabetes from putting so much sugar in my coffee, because I can’t match it with tobacco. My family will have to find other things to nag me about, like my personality. I’ll have so much extra money from not buying cigarettes that I’ll become addicted to the lottery. I’ll have no good excuse for buying new clothes, cause they won’t have yellow stains and burnholes. I’ll start biting my toenails. I’ll start biting other peoples toenails. I’ll have bad breath. I won’t have any thing to cover up the smell when I have gas. Etc, etc….
Positives:I’ll be able to relax around others without having to go outside like I’m an unwanted guest. I’ll have a lot more money to spend on nice clothes, that will stay unyellowed. My family and friends will stop nagging me about my health. I can enjoy fresh air and the great outdoors without gasping for air. I will lose weight now that I can move and breathe well. My dental bills will go down. I’ll be able to take airplanes without panicking about my next nicotine fix. I will contribute to the good health of my family as well as myself. I won’t have to be a slave of an addiction. I’ll chose for myself what I want to do with my time, energy and money instead of being a slave to nicotine.
As you can see prevention depends on your view, if you only see the difficulty then there is little that can be done in the way of prevention- for what you keep anticipating will certainly come your way.
However if you’re able to notice those moments when your body tightens up with resistance and recognize the source of this you can glide through to taking the next step. Humor is a great way to help get perspective, really it is the best way to put the farce of fear in it’s place and let us move on with the work of creating a better tomorrow. For in the end, the ability to choose is always with us but the choices we have are not up to us—take heart that your choices now are great chances to widen your future choices instead of ending up in a helpless situation.
Prevention is the best we can do to increase our options for the future, so don’t miss out!