Don’t Be Offended By Ignorance

I have always been a problem solver and quick to offer advice when I encounter someone with a problem. And I can be pushy about it! Teaching yoga has helped me learn how to not attach to the reception of any advice or instruction I give. I receive much more satisfaction when I give freely, without expecting anything in return. Not even a thank you.
The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw a status detailing sinus issues. Symptoms included “slime in the throat,” “post-nasal drip” and “unequalized pressure in ears”. The issue was that she had been to 3 doctors without receiving a diagnosis or prescription. My response was to advise using a neti pot with Nasya oil, something that I’ve had great success with whenever I have a cough or cold. This treatment clears the mucus from my sinus passages without drying my nose out, something that always happens if I blow my nose with tissue constantly. Anyways, the sick person responded with interest, saying several people had suggested the neti pot but she had never heard of Nasya oil.
I explained that it is “a blend of herbal oils designed to soothe and cleanse the nasal passages.” I elaborated that they are ancient Ayurvedic treatments and have been practiced for thousands of years. I don’t know if it was mentioning the “ancient Indian medicine” or the idea of putting oil up her nose that freaked her out. She said she would consider the neti but “‘herbal oils [was] a definite no,” adding, “no offense,” to her vehemently opposed response.
Why would I be offended? I offered her my knowledge on the subject in the hope of helping her find relief to her ailment, to soothe her discomfort. Her uninformed opinion was that putting herbal oil infusions up her nose was too weird and crazy to even consider. All the while lamenting that the doctors she had seen had not diagnosed her or written her a prescription. In my view, sticking some squeezable western “medicine” up my nose to relieve some excess mucus would be too weird and crazy to even consider.
I don’t know what a doctor could have or would have prescribed. I don’t know what ingredients it would have in it. And I don’t know what kind of other effects it might have on my body. Because I know how much I don’t know, I am not willing to put foreign, potentially harmful substances into my body just because it’s prescribed to me.
However, I know how oil is made, I can pronounce and understand the combination of oils and herbs in my Nasya oil. Oil comes from plants, herbs are plants. I know not all plants are good for me, but that most have some type of medicinal purpose and positive effect on my body, in whatever form they are taken. Because I know so much more about plants and how they are processed and consumed than I do about how medicines are concocted in the lab and approved by the FDA, I am more comfortable putting processed plants into my body than some man-made substance approved by a governing board with suspicious ties to the industry they regulate.
I know how much I don’t know, so I stick to what I do know to solve my problems. I know my Ayurvedic practitioner wants to see me happy and healthy. I know she has given me treatments for other ailments that have worked. I know that I can find all the ingredients she uses to prepare the treatments either in the grocery store or online, I don’t need a special certification or a prescription pad to purchase these. They are not controlled (aka potentially very dangerous) substances. They are ingredients. I live by what I know and I feel physically better than I ever have. I rarely get sick and when I do, I know how to take care of myself and the illness passes quickly.
So instead of feeling insulted by her negative response, I recognize that she doesn’t even know what she doesn’t know. Mainly, that the incentives in the healthcare industry are misaligned and the money is not in health, but in treating chronic disease brought on by poor diet and lifestyle choices accumulated over a lifetime of unhealthy living. And while more holistic methods may not have instantaneous results, they do less damage to the body and are more sustainable and cost effective in the long run.
So how could I possibly be offended by her ignorance? Being ignorant isn’t a crime, but it is a choice. For me, being proud of your ignorance means that you continually seek out new information and perspectives and try to learn more about those topics on which you know little. It means that you do not dismiss something offhand. It means you know how much more there is to learn and that you will never learn it all but that will not deter you from seeking to learn more and more every day. I am proud of my ignorance and try to learn at least one new thing I day. I want to know the reasons behind everything! I do my best treat others the way I treat myself, so I share what I know whenever someone is seeking information and I have something to offer.
Just a few days later I saw another post in a FaceBook group complaining of similar issues. I offered the exact same information and she was so happy and grateful for my response! She thanked me and asked me for more information and recommendations. I love being able to help people and responses like this make my heart sing!
It feels so good to offer something of value to people. Whether they decide to use it or not, I know that I offered what I could. This knowledge keeps me content regardless of their response. A positive response is just the cherry on top!
So if you are a chronic advice giver like me, still give your suggestions and do your best to offer help. But realize that the information you offer may not be available to that person in their current mindset. Because of preconceived notions we each hold, we can only understand the world from our present perspective. A shift in perspective is difficult to achieve, but it is impossible if we are never presented with information that contradicts what we know.
My advice to you is to continue sharing your knowledge with the understanding that it might not be translatable to someone given their prevailing view of the world. But it never hurts to try and your words just may be the catalyst that turns their world view around!

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