Pursuing natural alternatives to more traditional medicines and treatments is a deeply personal decision, and one which many of us do not take lightly. My husband and I often spend hours analyzing research and weighing our findings against our beliefs, our health history, and our personal preferences. Sometimes we decide that a more traditional medical approach is best, but most of the time we pursue more natural alternative therapies.
The thing is, no one raises an eyebrow if we mention that our doctor recommended such and such treatment. But you can probably imagine the looks and questions we get when we mention an herbal remedy, essential oil, or diet change that we’re trying for a common (or sometimes not so common) ailment.
I think sometimes people assume that because we choose a natural remedy or therapy, we are just crazy hippies stuck in the last century who must not have done our homework, and who are diametrically opposed to modern medicine and science. And sometimes I struggle with how to respond to questions from people who I know disagree with our decisions.
Oh but the need for grace pops up everywhere, doesn’t it? We stand in constant need of grace from others, and likewise, they stand in need of grace from us.
I’ve found three tips to remember when engaging friends and family members who disagree with, or question our decision to pursue a more natural lifestyle and alternative medicines:
1. Remember that just because a natural remedy or practice is best for me, it may not be for everyone.
When we’re faced with perceived criticism or questions regarding our health-related decisions, my husband and I strive to remember that our decisions and preferences are unique to us. We often remind our friends of this by simply stating, “We know this isn’t for everyone, but we’re pleased with our decision to _______.” Sometimes a simple acknowledgement that we aren’t trying to convert or convince anyone to do it our way helps keep the conversation peaceful.
2. Remember that for many, we’re the “expert” on the matter. But really, we’re not experts.
I’ll never forget the time I suggested to a friend to try essential oils for a migraine. I’d personally alleviated a migraine using essential oils, so I felt confident in recommending they try it too. Unfortunately I failed to consider that this friend had a long family history of debilitating migraines, while I’ve only had a few in my life. When they asked why essential oils would work, I had no answer for them. I just knew that they had helped me.
For many of our friends and family members, you and I are the most knowledgeable person they know when it comes to alternative remedies and practices. But very few of us are actually experts, and oftentimes our expertise is experiential (though many times there are loads of data and research to back up our great experiences). And some personality types just don’t give much credit to experiential testimonies, it’s not personal, it’s the way they’re hard-wired.
3. Sometimes people ask questions because they really want to know.
Unfortunately, often times when we’re learning something new we don’t know how or what to ask. The depth and strength of the relationship helps us gauge if someone is asking because they are interested in learning, or simply because they are interested in our story. Sometimes it is both, but very rarely is it neither.
I have friends and family members who are not interested in learning about alternative medicine and natural remedies, but they are deeply invested in our story. For these dear relationships it is so important to me to establish a mutual respect of one another’s medical and health-related choices. And a genuine respect results in genuine support, even when our choices seem to be so different.
What about you? How do you respond to questions or comments regarding your decision to pursue natural alternatives to traditional medicine?