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Second guessing

There is a nasty habit that often comes along with a chronic disease such as RA and it is pervasive and difficult to break if carried on for too long! Second guessing is second nature to those of us who have to cope with the ups and downs and uncertainties of RA. It is a disease that by its very nature instills doubt around every corner...

No sooner do we think we have it all figured out in terms of treatments, medications, workload, lifestyle adjustments, exercising, diet, etc. and comes the doubt. Controlling doubt and second guessing is a tool you need to add to the ever enlarging RA toolbox!

Where does it come from? I think it stems from the fact that RA is so unpredictable that it keeps us off balance just trying to achieve some sense of stability and routine. Flares seem to come from nowhere, striking without warning. That very fact makes us hesitant to go forward with decisions that could mean pain, sleeplessness, lack of mobility, decreased quality of life and on and on. Sometimes it just seems easier and even more sensible to not make any choices rather then risk making one that could bring on a dreaded flare.

I find myself not being as decisive as I prided myself on being for so many years. And I know the root of that is firmly entrenched in the pain, etc. that could result in making the wrong one - be it a new treatment possibility, a new exercise option, a new job, whatever. I am loathe to make changes these days and find myself second guessing every choice I face. What I do know it that I need to break that cycle if I am to continue to successfully manage RA.

The truth is that second guessing CAN be a good way to examine all the many options we face in our management of RA. Perhaps it is not only good but necessary to question the choices, the decisions, the options and then make an informed but distinct decision. The trick is to not let it get too extreme....

We need to learn that trusting that our years of dealing with RA and its many facets will serve us well as we make choices. Tap into the years of experience that we all bring to the table instead of shying away from it.

Often our instincts will guide us as we journey through this process of decision making relative to RA management. Learning to trust those instincts is yet another valuable tool to add to our arsenal.

Another pitfall to avoid is the "what if" scenario. When I was facing my foot surgeries, I found myself going through this thought process for a bit...I had to stop myself and decide that I knew what I wanted to achieve and that this was the logical and best solution. Going through that process helped me to be more confident and I believe even made the healing process more efficient.

It is so easy in these situations to begin to focus on the potential negative outcomes and loose sight of the more likely positive results. The old Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda is a dangerous path to follow.

That is when it behooves us to list all of the reasons for making a specific choice and counter that with the reasons to not go forward with a decision. In that way you have done a thoughtful and considered examination of the facts and you will be much more likely to be able to handle the outcomes no matter what.

Knowing when to stop the second guessing process is a whole different matter and takes a degree of experience before you are really able to do so with regularity. The pitfall of thinking TOO much is that you create problems that are so unlikely they are not worth considering. And to consider them too much breeds more doubt and confusion.

Questioning for the sake of questioning is not healthy or beneficial. It should always have a purpose, a time frame and a final decision at the end of the process. In that way you are in control of the second guessing so that in the end you are the master of your destiny and as much as possible in control of RA and not the other way around!
Nan Hart

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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