Q: Late last year I bought your “Converting to Cash” program. I was a bit surprised as it was not exactly what I expected (it was what I needed). I have listened to the “Headspace” CD several times and started regularly reading the articles and other material on your website. I’m embarrassed to say that many of the topics that you have written about hit home.
My practice career has been a struggle to say the least. I don’t know if I ever have “found myself” as a chiropractor. I don’t have that radiant magnetic personality that some consultants have used to see their “20 new patients in a day.”
I do care for people and have a deep desire to help. In fact, part of my struggle comes from that very thing. I feel in some small way as if I am “ripping them off” if I treat them well beyond symptom relief with no end product in sight (feeling like I’m not helping them). The list is probably very long on what that indicates; no clear or defined technique, philosophy in the toilet, confusion, etc…
I want to correct this and have spent some years and energy attempting to do so. Since you have “rang my bell” more times in the past three months by the ideas in your essays, I thought you might be a good person to ask:
Where do I start?
A: First, congratulations on having the courage to confront your circumstances by putting it into language. Many people stay stuck by never admitting to or articulating their pain or frustration. Turns out, that’s where you start!
I believe that the language we use actually serves to define and create our reality. So, if our unhappy circumstances remain unexpressed as merely vague feelings or formless fear, we remain in bondage and are unable to bring order and meaning to our world.
It’s significant that God spoke (language) the world into existence. And even more significant that he tasked us with naming the animals—a way that we could exhibit our dominion over the animal kingdom. Even today, if you want to see a frustrated, powerless medical doctor, present a series of symptoms, which don’t clearly match any named disease! (The television show House perfectly demonstrates this.) Only when the condition is accurately named, described and articulated in language can you take appropriate action. Same thing with your practice.
It was Socrates who said that the “an unexamined life isn’t worth living.” My guess is that part of your pain is related to merely going through the motions. That’s the “having-never-found-myself-as-a-chiropractor” part. This creates the lack of passion and joyless existence that I sense you’re experiencing. You lack the rudder; the center core of your practice. Without this critical emotional component, practice becomes a weighty struggle. Something to “get through.”
Relying on whether a patient recovers from their admitting complaint to determine your value as a chiropractor precludes you from tapping into the growing wellness movement. Here, progress is measured by having a sense of ease, personal growth and becoming more fully human—issues that don’t show up on orthopedic exams!
It’s time to perform a thorough examination—on yourself. A helpful technique is journaling. Spend some time expressing yourself in words, either with pen and paper or on your computer. Explore your reactions to daily situations. Confront yourself. By this process you can bring healing and dominion over your circumstances.
Don’t confuse journaling with a diary. Although they share a few things in common, a journal is much more significant. Diaries are largely about people. A journal is about ideas; big picture stuff.
The types of questions you might want to explore in your journaling include:
What is chiropractic?
What does a patient want (physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually) when they show up in my office?
What am I actually delivering to a patient?
What does an adjustment do?
What’s the difference between an adjustment and a manipulation?
What’s the difference between treatment and care?
What part of practicing fuels me?
What part of practice is burdensome?
What ways have I fashioned chiropractic into my own image, rather than conforming myself to chiropractic?
After you address the “what” questions (that could take a while) you might want to explore some of the “why” questions:
Why did I become a chiropractor?
Why would a patient be motivated to follow my recommendations?
Why would a patient be inclined to tell others about my practice?
Why am I prone to take patient behaviors personally?
Why would someone pay for the care I offer?
Why would someone get adjusted when they’re feeling great?
Naturally, after what and why questions there’s the more comforting “how” questions. As in:
How do I share chiropractic principles with more strangers?
How do I make it easier for patients to find us?
How can we make chiropractic care more attractive than popping a pill?
How do we make it safe for inactives to resume care?
How do we make it easier for patients to refer their friends and family?
I could go on, but you get the idea. Your willingness to wrestle with these and many other questions dealing with your practice life are essential if you are to have a clear vision for your practice and radiate the certainty that patients secretly crave.
Where do you start? By asking the question you have already begun. Congratulations!