I’m on vacation this week working on the next batch of Monday Morning Motivation broadcasts and some other cool projects. It occurred to me that life isn’t just digital (on or off, dead or alive) but shades of gray. Thankfully, because we subluxate rather than die when presented with certain amounts of stress, we each get to experience varying degrees of this thing called life.
Because our wonderful soul package (our body) is so accommodating to our mistreatment of it and our abuse generally takes years to erupt into obvious problems, we are often poor judges of our own well-being. Like the fish who doesn’t know he’s in water, asking a patient to describe their subjective well-being is an exercise in futility. That's when patients go digital. They are either aware that obvious symptoms are present or their lack of health hasn’t reached the symptomatic level yet. Yes or no. On or off. Symptoms or no symptoms.
When symptoms are “on” (and they become pressing enough) time is made to attend to them, either through self-treatment or through seeking a professional. When symptoms are “off” health and health-related issues can be ignored in favor of other pursuits. Perhaps this is where the popular, “If-it’s-not-broken-why-fix-it?” mentality comes from.
For those of us for whom health is a high value, this can be difficult to understand. Because it’s not even about health. It’s about living consciously. How else can you explain turning one’s mind over to the producers of television programs, mindlessly ingesting Tylenol (in the new tamper-proof container!) or consuming the inflammatory foods from the drive up window? Living consciously takes waaaaaay too much work. Easier to be comfortably numb. To just get by. (Is this why when offered three sizes of soft drinks, medium is the most popular?)
If you want to make a real difference in the lives of people who parade past you all day long, adjust their cerebral cortex. And I’m not talking about some type of esoteric cranial work. I’m suggesting you pose questions and play “what if” games that can serve to break their trance and cause them to look at their life in a new way. And to do it in such a way that avoids condemnation or judgment.
For starters, install a dry erasable white board. Write ambiguous statements on it that can serve to provoke questions and conversations. How and why are described here.
Secondly, start asking thought-provoking questions. Here are a few to get you started:
What is the purpose of television?
Why are celebrities and sports figures paid so much?
What causes things that are dead to stink?
Why are most people afraid of strangers?
“Fascinating Bill, but what do questions like these have to do with chiropractic?”
Absolutely nothing. Except they can help patients question the status quo and become more present to the world around them. It’s becoming present that offers the greatest hope for breaking patients out of the mind-robbing numbness perpetuated by the mainstream and the waiting-for-obvious-symptoms-before-acting that is so characteristic of the way we do “health” care these days. Perhaps it will help your practice members see that the medical “emperor” isn’t wearing any clothes.
“But my patients will think that I’m, well, weird.”
They already do. Didn’t you know that? You chose a career that our culture says doesn’t work, isn’t needed, is second-class and is only appropriate for a narrow range of neuromuscular-skeletal conditions. But you said, no, screw that, “I want to become a chiropractor!”
So of course patients think you’re weird. Go for it! Don’t hold back! And who knows, you just might make a difference.