Do endless appointments to manage your chronically challenging health wreck havoc on your schedule? If you’re saying YES, let me assure you that you’re not alone. Work and personal life are inevitably disrupted while you fit your life into other people’s schedules.
I’ve lost count of how many people have told me they can’t hold a job because of this. And now, after 35+ years of office visits, procedures and surgeries, my patience wears thin quickly. It evaporates when the appointment starts more than 10 minutes late.
So when the physician (whom I’d never met before) entered the exam room 30 minutes late, breezily asking, “How are you?”, my frustration spiked high. If he’d acknowledged up front that he was late and apologized for my inconvenience, the boil would have evaporated. If I’d taken a slow breath before opening my mouth, I would have calmed enough to consider what to say and why.
Instead, my emotions took charge as I responded in a tight voice, “I’m not doing well right now. Is running late for appointments typical?” Ouch. I’d cornered him into giving a’ yes’ or ‘no’ response. That put him on the defensive for the rest of our appointment. Which made me even more uncomfortable, unable to hear what he was saying or follow his recommendations.
Being a chronic patient is a time suck. And because our health is so frustrating and we spend so much time managing it, it’s critical that we manage our behavior and do our best to get what we need. But I’ve found that looking back with regret is easy but it doesn’t change things. We have to learn from what did and didn’t happen so we can make the changes we want.
I also know it’s hard for me to change my behavior as it probably is for you. It’s far easier to keep doing the same thing — even while knowing it’s not helpful! Over the years I’ve tried various behavior change techniques with myself and clients. Then recently I read about a behavior change model, WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan), based on research by psychologist, Gabrielle Oettingen.
- My wish: to communicate effectively with providers so do my best to get what I need.
- The outcome: an increased sense of satisfaction that I’m taking charge of my health.
- One obstacle: my tendency to become angry and emotional and speak without thinking.
- My plan: to sit quietly for 10 minutes before any appointment and consider what could happen and my options for response.
Identifying the obstacle makes this approach different and I find it a game changer. I think you’ll agree. But when it’s all said and done, I intend to give myself a loving pass when my emotions take over and my brain takes a back seat. I hope you do, too.
Do you want help with changing your behavior and achieving your goals ? Contact me or just hit reply to discuss about what we’d do together so you can take charge — where you can!