What Motivates You to Action After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis?

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

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As I decided to address the subject of “motivation” in this blog, I thought the best thing was to start with a definition. Boy, was I surprised with what I found that covered a spectrum that I can’t begin to share here. So I finally settle on this particular one:

“And while not every medical problem can be improved or eliminated by behavioral changes, many can be and it is up to each person to decide what they should and can do and want to do and then what they can choose to do to motivate themselves to reach those goals, not the doctors.Barbara Jacoby

“The simplest definition of motivation boils down to wanting (Baumeister, 2016). We want a change in behavior, thoughts, feelings, self-concept, environment, and relationships.”

I do understand that there are times when someone knows that they need to change their behavior and they really don’t know how to go about it. If they choose to ask their doctor for help, that is wonderful and the doctor should take the time to assist and direct them in any way possible. However, why should any doctor be made to feel responsible when what we do with our life and our health and what we do about it comes down to our own choices?

Every single person facing cancer treatments and management of everything that comes during and after active treatment is actually in the hands of the patient. You may choose to go along with the recommendations of what to do made by your medical team for you – or not. No one can really expect to have the best outcome if what pushes them to do what needs to be done is a doctor to chastise, scold, embarrass or bully them in order to have them make changes. In fact, if you ask most people, especially those who “hate” to go to the doctor, it is because they don’t want to have to deal with that aspect of the visit. And I am sure that every single one of us knows someone whose life was at risk if they did not change certain behaviors and that still was not enough for them to do so. So, what’s the answer?

I believe that everyone who chooses risky or bad behavior has not been empowered with the right motivation to make a change. As a result, no medical doctor who tries to change that behavior without addressing the underlying problem will have success. Therefore, to continue to browbeat a person in order to get them to lose weight as an example,  just won’t work and will alienate the patient every single time. And if a more subtle approach is used and the patient is still not willing to address the matter then it should be immediately dropped.

It is time for the medical doctors to utilize their time as medical doctors and not waste it as psychologists. With the changes that are occurring where less and less time is available to spend with the patients, it is time to let go of making them feel responsible about not being able to make changes in those patients who choose not to change. It is like the old adage, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.

For the patients, it is time to step up to the plate and take responsibility for your own behavior. You know what you are doing that is causing the problems with your life and health. It is up to you to change. You can’t make  your doctor responsible to prescribe something that will overcome all of the health choices that you have made over the years. If you truly don’t know what to do then absolutely consult your doctor. That is why they have trained so long and hard in order to help.

But only you can first decide if you want to change and then find out what you need to do as the options for alternatives but most of all, what will inspire or provide the real motivation for you to make the necessary changes. And while not every medical problem can be improved or eliminated by behavioral changes, many can be and it is up to each person to decide what they should and can do and want to do and then what they can choose to do to motivate themselves to reach those goals, not the doctors.