Wanting and Wanting to Want

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One of the most important lessons I have learned is to help patients is to really clarify what they want and what they are asking for. Early on I learned this lesson with people who wanted treatment to quit smoking.  I noticed everyone said they wanted to quit, but some did well and others not so much.  What’s the difference?

After some investigation it became clear that some really wanted to quit smoking and some thought that they should want to want to quit smoking.  Treatment for those really wanting to quit simply involved me supporting their process with treatment to minimize the physiological and psychological withdrawal. This does not work with people who want to want to quit. They have not moved to the place of freely choosing to quit, and without freedom to choose there is not peace. Not understanding this creates conflict. If I provide them treatment that compels them to change, when they are actually not clear is a subtle type of violence because they are not empowered to freely choose.  So instead I help to clarify this with them, and then their request changes to something like, “Part of me really enjoys smoking and part of me wants to want to quit.  I prefer the part that wants to want to quit. I would eventually like to quit, but I need help going from wanting to want to actually wanting.  After I have reached that place, I may then like your help to actually quit.  Can you help me?”  This in turn changes our interaction. My job is not to compel them to do something they have not chosen, but to help them find the piece that needs attention to freely move into a choice that feels comfortable.

For me, understanding the difference between wanting and wanting to want is an extremely useful discernment to make for ourselves, but also with the people we interact.  It creates less suffering for all involved. Is it useful to make this discernment anywhere in your life?

Andrew holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine (MSTOM) from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a double major in Psychology and Eastern Religious Studies from Indiana University. Throughout his life he has studied extensively a multi-disciplinary approach to the body and mind. His undergraduate work was in psychology with emphasis on perception and action and brain physiology, and Eastern philosophy. He is a licensed acupuncturist in 3 states – Florida, New York, and Indiana. He has several years of clinical experience as an acupuncturist in multidisciplinary clinics and he has volunteered his time and medical talents extensively to non-profit organizations. He also currently gives Skype consultation to patients throughout the world. Andrew lectures throughout North America. He teaches seminars for both patients and medical professionals such as acupuncturists, doctors, chiropractors, psychologists, physical therapists, nutritionists, and nurses. Andrew works intimately with the team of pioneer European researchers who are discovering and showing the deep interrelationships of biomedicine and energy medicine. Andrew lives in Miami, Florida. In addition to his busy schedule of seeing patients, writing and public speaking, his is an avid reader, meditator, and tennis player.


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