A recent comment from a blog reader asked for some suggestions for "…helping people become more aware of the unique stressors they have control over, as well as the ones they don't have control over."
It got me thinking. What stressors don't we have control over?
Very few. With a better awareness of physical and chemical stresses, most of us could eliminate most or all of them. Granted, we can't do much about the driver behind us who tries to occupy the same space we are, but thankfully, that's relatively rare.
What's fascinating about the most common stress, emotional stress, is that it is largely self-inflicted. (No wonder that almost 100 years ago D. D. Palmer referred to the emotional cause of subluxation as "autosuggestion.") When something happens and we attach an inappropriate meaning to it, we can experience the fight or flight response we call stress. Thankfully, with increased awareness and mindfulness, we have a choice about how we choose to interpret these experiences.
In fact, I suspect that many of our experiences with emotional stress occur when we aren't mindful at all. Countless emotional events are largely about inappropriately linking a painful memory from the past with contemporaneous events. In other words, we create a lot of stress by inappropriately interpreting our environment. (Sounds like an emotional subluxation to me!)
Without noticing these unhelpful reactions and neutralizing their emotional charge, we become little more than emotional pinball machines, bouncing off the bumpers of our circumstances, careening from one emotional extreme to the other, simply replaying memory loops from the past.
If you're "stuck" in your life, your marriage, your finances or your practice, you're likely to have a patchwork of personal vows, unhealed wounds and unresolved pain from the past. Heal these and a lot of blue-sky opportunities emerge when you are no longer saddled with knee-jerk reactions to circumstances.
What makes your practice stressful?
Here are five of the more common sources I've explored with chiropractors during one-hour telephone consultations. Virtually all of them have an emotional underpinning:
1. Needing patients more than they need you.
If you've been in practice more than 10 years, and you think all of your troubles would vanish if you simply had enough new patients, you're hallucinating. Either you're not bold enough in your educational overtures, you've degenerated to mere symptom treating, have a spending problem or married to someone who does. If you haven't had that difficult conversation with your spouse (or yourself!) get on with it. By the way, have you healed your aversion to promoting your practice?
2. Investing in outcomes you can't control.
It's so easy to become invested in how patients feel. After all, it's their symptoms that bring them to your practice. Granted, there is a communications burden to explain that they control the healing process, not you. But without fully explaining that your adjustments don't "treat" their problem and merely help revive their body's ability to self heal, they think your "prescription" or "dosage" of three adjustments per week are responsible (or not!) for the speed of their recovery. Oops!
3. A lack of technical certainty.
Do you have confidence that what you do actually works? Do you have technology to measure the difference you're making? Are you afraid to take post X-rays? Do you feel like an imposter? Are you afraid to conduct a progress examination? Are you afraid you might be "found out"? These, and similar questions, can eat away at your confidence, sabotage your certainty and ultimately compromise your patient care as you attempt to decipher each patient's loyalty. Patients deserve a chiropractor with unwavering assurance and a passionate conviction that they deliver the goods. It's the basis of all hope—an essential component of healing.
4. Attempting to live someone else’s notion of practice.
If you're in the habit of comparing yourself with others, you're sure to find someone who is seeing more people, making more money, having more fun and further along than you are. So what? Worse, you may have paid for expensive advice that suggests that you have to be someone else to succeed; that being authentically you wouldn't be attractive; that you must use someone else's words to "sell" your service. That's merely symptom treating. If you want your practice to grow, you must grow. And that almost always means becoming the person that results after doing the scary, risky and uncomfortable things you already know you should do.
5. Failing to forgive someone.
This is the biggie. Virtually all of the chiropractors I've met who are stuck are clinging to justifiable resentments. They're angry and bitter because things didn't turn out like they had hoped. It makes them toxic and practically guarantees that the success they seek will remain elusive. Did a family member let you down? Forgive them. Did your chiropractic college teachers make promises that weren't true? Forgive them. Do you have an ex-spouse or employee that did you wrong? Forgive them. In other words, make an inventory of everyone who let you down (including yourself) and forgive every one for every thing. Your attachment to them creates an unseen drag on your life and your practice.
If the emotional subluxation can take such a toll on someone as highly educated and enlightened as you, imagine the burden carried by your practice members just trying to get through life.
Granted, this emotional thing may not be the direction you want to take your practice. No problem. But be advised, the emotional reality of patients profoundly affects their spine and their ability to heal.