Being a good patient doesn’t come naturally — it takes effort, patience and self-awareness. But when you practice these seven rules regularly, it’s easier than you think: You become more self-assured in your presence as well as kinder and more understanding towards yourself and others. Below we guide you through the key principles that will help you be a better patient.
Be honest with yourself.
You have to be honest with yourself when it comes to several things if you want to get better and be a good patient. One thing is how you feel about your condition. It’s OK to admit that you might feel upset about your illness, or that you might be frustrated by the way you currently feel.
Even if you feel like you’re being honest when you say something like “I’m not feeling well” or “I want to feel better” — you might be denying that you’re also frustrated, angry, or put out by your medical condition. Admitting that you’re frustrated or that you want to improve is a critical first step toward actually doing something about it.
Another thing to keep in mind is how you talk to other people about your condition. You might assume that you’re being open and honest when you say things like “I have cancer” (or some other serious diagnosis), but you might be shutting people down and causing them a lot of distress. It’s OK to be vaguer or to use a different term altogether.
Keep your hands to yourself.
One thing that can help you feel better is to keep your hands to yourself. It’s OK to use your hands to help you (e.g. when you’re eating or drinking), but when people aren’t providing you assistance, it’s helpful to remind yourself to keep your hands to yourself.
It’s important because people are generally more comfortable with you when they feel like they have some level of control. With physical contact out of the equation, these subtle cues can make a big difference in how other people perceive you.
Show up prepared.
Another thing that can help you feel more confident is to show up prepared. It might sound silly, but some things can help you feel more confident and less anxious. One thing that you might want to consider is getting a journal. Having a journal that you can write in as well as tear out pages is a really helpful tool for patients.
You can use it to log your feelings and moods, so you can see what’s happening to you and get an early warning before things get out of hand. Having a journal doesn’t mean that you have to write in it every second, but keeping a few pages open in different browser tabs or an app on your phone can be helpful.
Don’t take your health issues personally.
It’s tempting to think of your health problems as personal failings or faults. This way of thinking is usually at the root of low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and even depression. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to feel bad about yourself and that your illness is not a reflection of you as a person.
You are still you, even with a condition like cancer. There are things that you can do to help yourself out here. One thing to keep in mind is that people might not always respond to what you say the way you want them to. The best thing to do in these situations is to take a step back and ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish.
Ask questions and stay engaged.
Another thing that can help you feel better is to ask questions and stay engaged. This can be difficult when you’re in a situation where you don’t feel like you have much control over the outcome. This can happen when you’re in a clinical trial or you don’t have a lot of choice in the treatment.
In these situations, it can be helpful to remember that you don’t have to accept everything that is happening to you. Stay engaged by asking questions and reminding yourself to stay engaged. One thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes the best thing that you can do is nothing.
Don’t be a jerk.
So you know how to keep your hands to yourself and show up prepared, but what if you’re still being a jerk? It’s really important to remember that as a patient you should always be kind. If you’re being rude or aggressive, then you’re most likely doing it on purpose.
This might look a few different ways. Sometimes it might look like you’re talking down to other people, or you might be mixing up your anger with frustration. You might also be being rude by ignoring people or being impolite in other ways.
Being a good patient isn’t easy. Many patients feel frustrated by their condition, or they don’t feel like they have enough control over their health. These feelings can make it difficult to practice the basic principles of being a good patient. If you find yourself in this situation, try to stay grounded, be kind to yourself and others, and remember that you don’t have to accept everything that is happening to you.