Dr Dale Peterson, assumptions, risks

That's Correct, I Assume

That's Correct, I Assume

© 2000 Dr. Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com
 

I assume. Two of the most regrettable words in the English language. Two of the nastiest tasting words in the language as well. I know because Iíve had to eat them too many times in my life.

I tend to be non-confrontational. Given the choice between calling someone to clarify something that is not quite clear to me or acting on what I think is expected Iíd much rather do the latter. Unfortunately, what at first seems the easiest thing to do often winds up being the most costly in the end.

At times, assumptions are safe enough. If, for example, I assume that Rosalie has picked up our mail I wonít bother to stop and check on the way home. If I learn that she wasnít able to do so one of us can simply drop by the box the following day. No harm done.

Other assumptions can be more problematic. If I assume that a particular bill has been paid and later learn that it has not we may be facing a financial penalty or worse. If I assume that the car has plenty of gas I may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

These assumptions have the potential to be embarrassing and cause a temporary financial setback. They are not life threatening, nor do they have much of an impact on our health. There are other assumptions, however, that can be far more damaging.

One of the most dangerous assumptions is to think that if Iíve not heard of something it doesnít exist or is of little importance. This is rarely the case. There are many things of which I had no knowledge a few short months or years ago that I now consider of great importance.

I spent most of my life assuming that since vitamin and mineral supplementation had not been discussed in medical school that it was of little or no importance in promoting human health. How foolish I was. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people could have been spared needless suffering or premature death had I bothered to educate myself about nutrition sooner.

My own father died of a heart attack at age 54. At that time I was totally unaware of the relationship between B vitamin deficiencies and homocysteine levels in the blood stream. I had never heard of free radicals and antioxidants and was ignorant of their relationship to heart disease. Had I been able to pass on to him the knowledge I now possess he quite likely would be 76 years young today.

Another dangerous assumption is to believe that something is a fraud or of no value if I canít explain it. For years I refused to consider that there might be some benefit to manipulative therapies. I advised numerous people that treatment modalities such as chiropractic were at best worthless and at worst dangerous. Only when I was confronted with a problem for which I had no answer did I take the time to investigate other options. Imagine how I felt when I learned that I had in condemned people to weeks, months or years of needless suffering through my own ignorance.

I became aware of homeopathy when I was a resident in Family Medicine during the 1970s. It was ridiculed by my mentors. Patients who were taking less than the usual amount of a medication were said to be using ďhomeopathic doses.Ē I know today that many patients, particularly children, would have responded beautifully to homeopathic remedies without experiencing the unpleasant side effects of their medications.

Perhaps the most costly assumption of all is to fail to clarify the thoughts or actions of another person. The stress of living with strained relationships takes a tremendous toll on personal health. Marriages, parent/child relationships, business associations and friendships can be broken simply by failing to ask enough questions. Was the person late because of inconsiderateness or rudeness or was he or she unavoidably detained? Did the door slam because he or she was upset or because the wind caught it? Did they fail to respond because they didnít care or because the original message was never received?

Consider this. Is it better to assume that the spouse, child, business associate or friend was inconsiderate, upset and careless and let the relationship move forward on that basis or would it be better to clarify the intent? If the person was actually rude, upset and careless it is better to deal with the situation than to ignore it. More times than not, however, it will be learned that the assumption was incorrect and that there was a logical and reasonable explanation for the perceived behavior.

Life is too short to spend it harboring resentments or nursing wounded feelings. I have learned to stop making assumptions about the causes of disease and healing methods. I have also learned that we both lose when I make false assumptions about the intentions of others. If we want to enjoy life and achieve optimum health we must become more devoted to the art of investigation and less comfortable with untested assumptions.

 
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