Last week, I was adjusting someone who was fidgety on the table and flinching often with any contact. I observed in a quiet voice, “You seem ready to jump out of your skin.” She sighed and said, “My body trusts you less than my mind does.”
I understood this comment so deeply. I began working for a chiropractor in 1986 by a weird “accident.” I knew nothing about it, and happened to get a job within walking distance to my apartment. I did not drink the chiropractic “cool aid” that so many of you drank. I was not instantly in love with the ideas and processes as many of you were and still are. Here were my thoughts and feelings in year one of my chiropractic experience:
I do not trust this person.
My boss was touching me. I hated it. Truth. It weirded me out. I had to get adjusted. It was part of the job requirement. He was the ONLY PERSON in my life who touched me. Take that in, because it is huge and it is true in your practice today. You are often the ONLY PERSON who is touching your practice members. It is intimate. It is a right. It is a privilege. Do not take it lightly. Rise to the occasion. Be noble about it. It is a big deal. Be present. Once, a coaching client admitted that he was “facebooking” during adjusting hours. Right away we talked about the fact that people KNOW stuff about you when you touch them — whether they KNOW they know, or not.
I do not trust this process.
When I got adjusted it felt like abuse. It felt like something to brace myself against. It scared the crap out of me. I needed a job so I stayed with it, but it was not easy. Years later a mentor said to me, “Pam, you associated the idea of force with violence.” For some people, getting adjusted is hard. On a primal level, they are like the shelter dogs that cower at someone who benignly waves to another person. You need to be tender to this fact and help them mentally, emotionally, and physically, or they will find a way out of your office. It’s primal.
I do not trust this idea.
A year after I graduated from chiropractic school, we had a house fire. All our wedding presents burned. Many cherished items were destroyed. A guy standing next to me, watching our home burn, said, “Fire is very purifying. This is a very cleansing experience,” or some crap like that. I wanted to clock the guy, and I am not usually prone to violence. It reminded me of years prior when my chiropractor often talked about the intelligence that organizes the human body and the universe. My life at the time was intensely chaotic and painful, and there SEEMED to be nothing intelligent happening anywhere. Life was painful, and really hard. It was IMPOSSIBLE for me to trust the power of life, or the power in my body. Really think about your audience, because educating people is A LOT like comedy. WHEN you say something is just as important as WHAT you are saying. Timing is everything.
Next week I will talk more about understanding trust from the patient’s perspective.