Avoiding Your Doctor Are you or your spouse refusing to go to a doctor? Dr. Fiore offers three tips to help you or your spouse overcome their resistance to getting medical care. BY DR. NEIL FIORE
Avoiding the doctor is bad for your health.
Why do I refuse to see a doctor?
There are many reasons people resist calling and visiting the doctor:
* The phone. Your spouse knows theyíll have to go through several voicemails before they reach the right person, and then have to wait two months for an appointment.
* They may not want to take sick leave or disrupt their workday.
* They might be worried about the pain and discomfort of the exam and tests.
* Fear of discovering that we have some disease or problem we donít want to have to think about is a major reason.
* Being told we have to change our diet and exercise habits and give up smoking, drinking and eating fattening foods isnít something we want to here either.
* Your spouse might be shy about being naked in front of a male or female doctor.
* Your spouse may be a procrastinator and hoping it will just go away.
* It may even go as far as having a bad or embarrassing experience with doctors as a child.
It doesnít take much of a concern or an excuse to keep us from making that first call. While your wife or husband may seem to be stubborn in refusing to see a doctor for a routine checkup or a major concern, they may simply hung up by the number of steps required to set up the appointment. Getting them passed the first call is often enough to get over the inertia and on to momentum. But if making the call doesnít do the trick, try these tips.
1. Your worry may serve to motivate them to make that call orĖĖif done in a nagging wayĖĖcould increase their resistance. What are you going to say when they respond with, "Donít worry, Iím fine."
First, write out some positive examples of what you might say, and be prepared with a few statements that might be effective in your situation, such as:
* "But I am worried about you. And, maybe Iím tired of hearing you complaining but not doing anything about it."
* "I know Iím just being selfish. I want you to be around here for another 30 or 40 years and I donít want to be angry at you for waiting to take care of something before itís too late. (Would you feel motivated to see a doctor if you knew youíd avoid your own regrets and anger at yourself?)
* "What if I go with you? Would that make it easier?" (Would you find it easier to see a doctor if you asked your spouse or a friend to accompany you?)
* "I know I worry too much, but Iíd feel a lot better if you just found out whatís going on. Even if everything is fine, itís really not worth the stress of worrying if thereís something wrong."
2. You or your spouse may have legitimate concerns about a test, an exam or an X-ray. How do you talk to yourself about that? Nagging your spouse or yourself with a lot of "shoulds" and "you have tos" probably wonít work and will only create greater resistance.
Remember, you donít have to want to see the doctor, do your income taxes or exercise in order to choose to do what is for your greater, long-term benefit. As an adult, with a human brain, you can choose to face tasks that are difficult, boring or frightening. You donít have to wait until you want to or feel confident. A responsible, committed person does whatís right, regardless of a lack of ego confidence or motivation. And itís not just a process of discipline or "just get over it" that leaves you with inner conflict. Itís a process of integrating all aspects of yourself around your higher brain leadership and vision, thus, eliminating self-sabotage.
3. Commit to protecting and caring for your body. If you consider your body a faithful servant that has endured mistreatment for years and tolerated a lack of exercise and nasty "food-like substances" for years, you might have some compassion for your body and give it the tune-up that it needs. Consider that your body "is only human" and has its limits. Your teeth need cleaning, check-up, and fillings periodically. You donít have to like it or even want to take care of your teeth daily and with period visits to the dentist, but it has become a healthy habit that will yield long-term benefits. The same applies to your body and its need for periodic checkups.
Your body needs you to protect it from its own built-in addictions to fats and sugars, stimulants and nicotine. If your child said, "I want to eat poison;" would you give your child poison? If your child pouted and demanded, "But I want it, it tastes sweet;" would you give your child the poison it craves? Of course not. Youíd give your child healthy choices and the attention it needs, but not what it thinks it wants. And if your child or your body ingested poisons wouldnít you take it to the doctor. Of course you would. Itís your job to protect and care for your body, not just cave in to its wants and demands.
Youíll be empowered by your protective role to set up that meeting with your doctor, regardless of fears and excuses. Itís your body and you can protect it from poisons and drugs and drug dealers, as well as from its own negative habits. You are the one who will benefit in the long runónot to mention your spouse will thank you.
Dr. Neil Fiore is a psychologist practicing in Berkeley, CA, a coach, a speaker, and author of Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage [McGraw-Hill, 2006]. His bestselling guide to overcoming procrastination, The Now Habit [Putnam, 2007], is revised and available at iTunes under "Audio books," and at www.audible.com under "Self-Development." You can schedule phone sessions with Neil at "Coaching" along with his "Free Articles & Tips" at www.neilfiore.com.