Unsolicited Advice aka "Thrusting Good Will"
Every day, now, I read about someone who is dealing with unsolicited advice. When you have a chronic illness like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it seems that people just can’t keep their opinions to themselves.
They have so much information about your illness that they just can’t help but tell you about it. Whether it’s in-person or on the Internet, it seems there is no end to the parade of folk remedies that cure autoimmune disease.
So how can you deal with purveyors of the latest fad cure or pyramid scheme without offending? Simple. Offend.
Abrupt, unsolicited advice
The thing is, you need to have a plan ready because you never know when it might happen - at the gas station, at the gym, or even at your pharmacy.
Does this sound familiar: You are standing in line, waiting to pick up your actual rheumatoid arthritis meds and someone in line behind you sees your limp/brace/crutches, and instantly takes it upon themselves to strike up a conversation.
It usually starts with, "What happened?", as if it’s a totally normal thing to ask a stranger about injuries to their body. Usually, you answer truthfully because you are so taken aback in the first place. So you say, "Arthritis," and the rando’s eyes light up like a gambler who just hit the 3-5-1 trifecta at the Jai Alai court.
It's usually about a cure
They begin to splooge their essential oil pyramid scheme all over you while you stand there, of course knowing that there is no known substance on Earth that you can inhale that will cure your RA or any other chronic illness for that matter. But, you don’t want to be rude. I mean, they are only doing it to be nice, right?
Do they have my best interests at heart?
WRONG. I’ll let you in on a little secret: when it comes to people who offer unsolicited advice, it’s almost always about them - not you. It could be a savior complex, mansplaining, or womenlightening (the feminine form of mansplaining), or even a legit attempt to make money by selling you a bottle of their latest pyramid scheme pills. Do you think the people who make millions selling Herbalife only sell to their friends? Hardly.
Now, discount the arrogance of this person who makes widgets for a living and who thinks they know better than the world’s top rheumatologists for a second, and ask yourself – if this really worked, wouldn’t I have heard about it already? And the answer is "yes."
How I deal with unsolicited advice
So, now that you know for sure that this person does not really have your best interests at heart and that the cure probably doesn’t even work for the common cold much less rheumatoid arthritis, you won’t feel bad using my foolproof method for dealing with what I call "thrusting good will." Just lie.
I tried it and it didn't work
Tell the person that you’ve already tried turmeric/glucosamine/shark cartilage, and it didn’t work for you. Bam. Done. And you can go back to listening to your murder podcast in peace while you wait for the pharmacist to fill your script.
"Yeah, but Dan," I hear you say, "When it’s some guy on the Internet, it’s pretty easy; you can tell them to "go take a hike stinko," and there aren’t really any consequences. When it comes to friends and family, though, I’m screwed!"
What about friends and family?
I hear you. Friends and family are a little tougher to deal with than the occasional rando at the local convenience store. But, you can still use my clever method to diffuse the situation. The one I said above. About the lying.
Say your mother-in-law comes over and just will not shut up about gin-soaked raisins. In fact, she bought raisins, a Tupperware, and some gin, and she wants to soak up a batch right now. Of course, you don’t want to get drunk on cheap gin and old grapes, at least not with her, so you have to find a way to refuse.
Well, it’s time to pull out the tried and true method – the lying. Tell your mother-in-law that you tried it and it didn’t work and also you found out you can’t drink gin because it gives you, er, hives on your, umm, left buttock. Perfect. It sounds just plausible enough to be true, and just personal enough that she won’t ask any more questions.
Getting that peace of mind
Now, look, I know some of you are terrified of besmirching the honor of your sacred word. You don’t like lying. Okay, fine - most people don’t, but here’s the thing: when you have rheumatoid arthritis or another chronic illness, you have to keep your stress levels down or you’re risking pain and a flare. If a small fib gets you that peace of mind, then I say it’s worth it.
Use with discretion
Of course, don’t tell your significant other to go screw themselves if they come home with a new pain cream that they saw at the store.
But, it’s perfectly fine to tell your close co-worker that you are allergic to turmeric and, if you even smell it, you’ll start projectile vomiting on the closest three people. What are they gonna do – risk it? Not bloody likely.
Thrusting goodwill, aka unsolicited advice, is something that everyone with RA and other chronic illnesses has to deal with on a daily basis, so dispensing with it in the easiest way possible is fine.
You have my permission and, if someone catches you lying, tell them some guy on the Internet told you to do it. Talk soon.
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