Imagining that a script, procedure or technique can cause a patient to abandon their symptom-treating beliefs and embrace chiropractic as a long-term lifestyle adjunct to optimize their health and well-being is absurd. It’s akin to airline passengers imagining that it’s their will power keeping the plane aloft!
Instead, a far more powerful phenomenon is at work. Something that cannot be changed with overt or covert strategies. And that’s the priority a patient places on his or her health.
Simply put, how someone uses health care resources is based upon the value they place on their health. Whether once-a-month visits to a chiropractor, daily teeth flossing or choosing organic fruits and vegetables, these behaviors are the result of far deeper beliefs than those that can be changed with a snappy report of findings or 50 cent brochure!
Instead, think of these core beliefs as the patient’s “operating system.” However, upgrading a computer’s OS is far easier. Instead of installing new software and rebooting, changing a patient’s health habits requires a far greater intervention—something that most health care practitioners can’t pull off.
Granted, there are some health nuts (like me) who are committed to their health and seem almost pre-wired to embrace healthy habits. Many such individuals choose a career in some facet of health care (like you and me).
If you want to inspire patients to attend to their health and cultivate their well-being, here’s what it will often take:
Death – There’s nothing like the death of a loved one to remind you of your own mortality. This can often compel an individual to turn over a new leaf and commit to healthier habits.
Serious illness – A brush with cancer, a serious accident or a similar episode can motivate some people to place a new emphasis on their health.
Divorce – Reentering the social scene after the breakup of a marriage can prompt many to lose some weight and attend to health matters to improve their attractability.
Birthday – Sometimes it’s merely a birthday of special significance (often one ending with a zero) that reminds them that they can no longer ignore their health.
As you can see, these circumstances are virtually impossible for you to orchestrate.
You’re hallucinating if you think you can induce patients to embrace healthier habits by merely what you say. It suggests you think you have a far greater sway over patients than you actually do. Worse, it prompts many chiropractors to spend tremendous sums of money chasing after the magic words or procedures that ultimately do little more than annoy patients and make them feel guilty for not valuing their health as they should.
What can you do? You can show up accepting and supportive. Educate patients. Show up as a servant and avoid making a patient feel ashamed by not rising to your standards. Think long term. Alert them to the likely relapse. Invite reactivations. Honor their free will agency. In other words, lighten up. So when that something happens, they will see you as a trusted resource as they commit themselves to better health.