Properly Figured

I am a logical person. I also am pretty well informed. When it comes to helping other people, I am usually right on the money with my analysis of the problems of other people and suggested solutions; solutions that makes perfect sense to me.


I am flummoxed by the fact that no matter how correct I am and how properly figured my solution is, people don’t always listen to me. This happens even if I have all the facts and weigh consequences of each contingency. In some cases (probably more than a few) efforts to convince the other party that my proposed course of action is probably the best, fall on deaf ears. Even if I rephrase, cite examples or try to explain in elementary language some people don’t listen.

I’ve been told that sometimes people understand exactly what I am saying, but actually disagree with me. I know! Hard for me to believe too!

More than vanity

My frustration may be due to vanity on my part: of course I have the right answer. I try to accept a person’s decision not to accept my suggestions. Sometimes I even do that gracefully.

However, there is a larger point I want to make. What happens if I know I’m right and I actually am right. Furthermore, what if failure to accept my suggestion would have dire consequences? If the person is competent to make his or her own decision, there really is nothing I can do. People are free to make their own decisions and live with the consequences.


How can one tell if a person is not competent to make his or her own decisions? There are medical assessments to determine competency and, at each hospital admission that I have been witness to, there is no dearth of paperwork addressing the subject of medical decisions in case of any kind of misadventure: health care proxy, living wills, etc.

What happens if a competent loved one makes a bad decision, knowing all the facts? I suppose ‘bad’ is a subjective term. Let’s say that in this case, ‘bad’ means ‘death’. Is it ethical to try declare this person incompetent? I would say no. What if ‘bad’ means ‘danger to others’, as in driving a car when the person has lost driving skills? In this case, probably hiding the keys is a good thing. Is there another way to prevent this behavior short of declaring incompetence? I don’t know the answer to this.

I am sure there is a whole body of ethics literature addressing these subjects. I doubt there is much written about the human factors of confronting a loved one who refuses to listen to reason, or who is reasonable but just disagrees.

2 thoughts on “Properly Figured

  1. You’ve hit a hot button here. I hadn’t thought about the documents you mentioned until my husbands first hospitalization. It became clear that we each needed to update our wills immediately, we also each prepared a physical property power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a living will. Because my career moved me so often, each time we relocated, one of the first things I did was ensure the documents were legally binding for the state we were living in.
    After I retired from government, I volunteered for NAMI (National Alliance of the Mentally Ill). Serving on the state board of directors and chair of the state and national legislative committees, I disagreed with NAMI’S stance of not preparing the POAs. Their belief is that it takes away from the individuals freedom. I believe the documents protect the individuals but caution must be taken where trust is concerned.

    • Hi Sheri, thanks for the comment. Actually I haven’t taken care of any of this, myself. Mainly, I can’t decide what my wishes are: DNR, heroic measures, buried, created. I don’t have a lot to leave to anyone. I figure when I’m gone, I’m gone. I know this is not the right way of thinking and I do plan to get the paperwork in order. It is hard, when you don’t know what you want.

      Thanks again for your thoughts.


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