Why do any of us follow treatment recommendations? Why should we do what a complete or near complete stranger instructs us to do? For the purpose of this discussion, let us assume that you trust in your health care provider’s expertise, in their good intentions, and their desire to see you improve your life. Most of us are at least willing to hear our providers’ recommendations and consider following them. But what happens when we don’t see immediate results? Or when motivation to keep working hard on our health starts to wane?
It’s easy to remain compliant when medication “feels like its working” and when following recommendations isn’t too taxing. It is when the benefits are not instantly apparent and when it seems that things just aren’t working that it becomes difficult to stick with our providers’ guidance. When the going gets tough in terms of health care compliance, the very first thing to do is have an open, honest discussion with your provider. Thoughtful and sincere exchange about your concerns and the risks and benefits is a necessary part of participating in your own care. Once these conversations have taken place, the next step is to reflect on why you’ve sought professional help in the first place. For most of us, sticking with a health care plan is born from a desire to remain healthy or to regain health. We seek help from experts because we believe that we can be healthier. This belief, this very positive and hopeful thought, is at the root of all help-seeking behavior. Challenging thoughts such as “I will never feel better” and “Nothing works for me” and even “I don’t deserve to be happy/healthy/successful” is vital to remaining motivated and hopeful.
You have to believe in yourself, your providers, and in your own future to “stick with the plan”. Positive thinking has so much power in shaping your actions. And since your actions can shape how you think and feel, following treatment plans and recommendations is worth a shot. Believing that life can be better is why anyone asks for help. Remaining positive about your treatment and your future will get you through the bumpy spots on your way to improved health.
By: Susana Marikle, PsyD