I’m flabbergasted when clients adamantly refuse to take medicine, seek medical attention, or get recommended health treatment. This kind of irrationality is what gets people into trouble in the first place. Fortunately, clients come to me to learn how to take better care of themselves, so I am in a position to help them make better decisions.

If you’re someone who refuses to go to a doctor, the hospital or take medication, I’d like you to stop and think about whether this is in your long-term best interest. Many clients say, “I hate going to the doctor,” “But I don’t want to go to the hospital,” or “I don’t like dependent on medication.” As if there are actually people out there who enjoy going to the doctor, are happy about going to the hospital, or like the idea of being dependent on medication. Doesn’t your attitude sound a tad silly to you?

How you feel about doing these things is totally beside the point and the wrong way to make decisions. The best approach is to set emotions aside, be rational, and look at the evidence and what will be best for you in the long run. Basing health decisions on how you feel about doing something is not only unproductive, it’s downright dangerous.

Whether you have a healthy or unhealthy attitude about treatment or medication depends on the negative or positive meaning you give to these activities. A healthy attitude includes experiencing enormous relief and happiness that there’s something that will help you. For example, my orthopedist gave me a cortisone shot for tendonitis in my hand, warning me that it would hurt like the dickens for about 10 seconds. I was overjoyed that a simple shot might relieve my chronic pain. If I need surgery for it, that’s fine too. Then it’ll be over and done with and I’ll be pain-free once more.

Alternately, an unhealthy attitude would be to refuse the shot because it would hurt. Fear of discomfort would overcome care-taking, never a good thing. As to a fear of medication dependence, many clients focus on side effects rather than the helpful primary effect of drugs or treatments. Others think only of scary stories they’ve heard about surgery or anti-depressants. Moreover, some folks believe that relying on something outside of themselves to get better means that they’re defective or not trying hard enough to get well on their own. For goodness sake, we’re not built to be perfect and we can’t always resolve medical issues or cure ourselves by sheer will alone. It’s fine to rely on medications or treatments if you need them and they help you. Visit your doctor, have that surgery, take that pill, go to PT, OT or rehab. Doing so doesn’t make you less than. It shows that you’re mature, wise and know what’s good for you.

Best,

Karen

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