This new question & answer column is for people living with chronic health challenges, who want to learn to live with mastery & wellbeing.
I invite you to post your questions in the comments box below and I will answer them on a future Friday in this column. I post to this blog three times per week. Monday posts are articles I’ve written. Wednesday posts are interviews—mostly video. Starting last week, Friday posts now consist of your questions about living better with chronic health challenges, and my answers to them.
Question: One of the most common questions asked of me is how to get a certain family member or close friend to practice better self-care.
Answer: Most of us have someone in our lives who is living irresponsibly, not being compliant with medical treatments, or not practicing good health habits. This is frustrating on many levels. We care about that person and want him or her to live responsibly. Unfortunately, we cannot change anyone else; we can only change ourselves. As most of us have discovered, coercion doesn’t work. Here is what can work, if you can make it happen. Find a way to help that person to come to the realization that every action has a predictable result. This is difficult, but it works when you can pull it off. What that individual, and all of us need, is a sense that everything we do matters.
Here is what is most likely to be effective: I highly recommend finding the one family member or friend, to whom that person will listen, and having that person express genuine love, empathy, and concern to him or her. Then, only after your loved one feels heard and understood, the person you’ve chosen can talk to the one who is not acting responsibly, but she or he should do so in an atmosphere of genuine love, concern and respect. Once a loving, empathic connection is established, the chosen family member or friend can express concern and try to get an agreement for more responsible behavior.
This website is offered as a free public service, supplying information that has been found helpful to certain people living with chronic health challenges. No treatment is offered on this website. The advice is general, and may or may not apply to your individual situation, and is not a substitute for psychotherapy or medical treatment.
What questions do you have about how to live better with chronic health challenges? Each Friday, I will answer your questions in Chronic Illness Q&A with Dr. B.
Just scroll down and type your question in the comment box and you’ll see my response to you in an upcoming Friday post.