Sometimes I think my ethnicity lets me get away with my tough love towards my patients. The way Chinese talk has a sense of abruptness or bluntness, and we expect the whole world to just embrace and understand (Ha!). Maybe not. It is not important. The most important is, that the intention of my tough love is to shift my patients’ paradigm, from being sick to healthy, from misery to contentment. People who know me understand that I don’t mess around. I get things done. I don’t sugar coat things. I don’t enable my patients by testifying the unhealthy things that they do to themselves are ok. I surely am very moderate with the word “moderation”. When you are in the process of healing, moderation of sugar still hinders your recovery. Moderation of heroin can still kill you. So I don’t flaunt the word “moderation” too often. Sometimes I wonder whether this is a word that enables people, and an excuse for them to block themselves from feeling better.
It is always good to be honest and straightforward. After all, patients don’t come to me to be my friends. I am not obligated to tell them white lies. In fact, most people appreciate my approach. Society has created, maybe it has gone a bit too far, an “art” called “politically-correct”ness. To me, when patients see me, they are putting themselves vulnerably in my hands. They trust me and expect me to help them as much as I can. And if I was busy trying to be PC and “nice”, I would be wasting their time, and mine too!
Of course, politeness and compassion are given, in any circumstance. Tough love doesn’t mean I am being condescending, talking down to my patients. Rather, guiding them to see and feel.
People see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear. But for those who are truly ill, or eager to be able to get pregnant, most of them are in the same wavelength like mine: get things done. I am very blessed, because 99% of my patients get me.
In the end, everybody wins.