(and how to love your choice)
Don’t should on me.
What is more draining than feeling you “should” do something, and not doing it? What generates more nagging guilt than procrastinating something which you know is important to your health?
“Shoulding on yourself” can only make you feel shitty.
There are some, perhaps many, positive health habits which I choose NOT to pursue. And I am at peace, I am happy with my choices. If not, then life could come a big guilt trip. I went to a Jesuit school, and had a roman catholic upbringing. I don’t need any extra things to feel guilty about!
Most of us choose NOT to do every possible positive health behaviour we know of. This choice is mostly down to circumstance, and not always a deliberate choice. If we can reconcile with that choice, we can be at peace with not being perfect.
Health habit guilt
But many of us feel stressed or nagged by our inability to do EVERY positive health habit. This is the land of constant self-judgement and an ongoing sense of failure. All that it shows is that we have a gap between our expectations and our behaviour. Put another way; we are either asking too much, or doing too little.
Putting chiropractic care on the normal list of “to dos” for our health is important. Heck, I wrote Befriend Gravity just to demonstrate this point!
Health motivation is the same as any motivation in life. We are motivated away from pain, or towards pleasure.
Pathogenesis v Salutogenesis
The medical model is focussed on doing things to move away from illness. This is clearly “away from pain” motivation. The focus is on the pathogenesis- the generation of disease. Most medicines reduce or numb the pains of illness. Some promise that an injection might reduce the symptoms when you get the flu virus. Others promote that taking a chemical pill daily will reduce your risk of stroke by 1%. Others are more direct, not pretending to do anything other than mask the symptoms… the whole painkiller industry. What they all have robustly in common, is that none purport to improve your health. Running away from pain… removing illness is not the same as adding health.
Chiropractic philosophy is about moving into health. This necessarily means that illness falls behind, but illness is not the focus. Salutogenesis- how to generate health- is the focus. Done well, this is very unique. It is not just “natural healthcare.” Much “natural healthcare” is just a natural version of pathogenic care. It is still trying to run away from pain and illness. Good chiropractic care is solely dedicated to freeing up subluxations- blockages in your nervous system- so you can express more health in EVERY way. This is health-generating, or salutogenesis.
This questionnaire assesses your healthy lifestyle habits and tells you how subluxated you are likely to be.
Side-effects of Salutogenesis
Your baby’s colic went away under chiropractic care? Great! That is a well-known side-effect. Your blood pressure improved? Great! Another side-effect. Your herniated disc started to heal? Fantastic, another well-recognised side-effect. Correct, back pain going away is a SIDE-EFFECT of chiropractic care ADDING health back into your body. Illness going away is the SIDE effect of gaining more health.
But chiropractic is not the only salutogenic practice. Eating healthy organic food, drinking water, exercising regularly, reducing stress, and sleeping well are all salutogenic practices. So how do we design a lifestyle which combines these things without overwhelming us?
Medicine has messed up your mind
The medical system has taught us that we should only see a professional for illness care. For pathogenic care. This is sad. Because it has scarred us subconsciously. Most of us believe that seeing a professional for health, we need first to have illness. If there was one most toxic thing that medicine has done to humanity —and there are many— this may be it. The dangerous result is that some people refuse to see the medical doctor when they are in crisis. They avoid doctors because it is an admission of illness or weakness. We often see this in our ageing relatives. The aunt or uncle who is famous for going to the doctor only when it is too late.
A less critical but perhaps more important result happens when we grow into health-conscious adults. This subconscious belief means you have a fear of —or aversion to— going to a real health practitioner, because, well you have nothing “wrong” with you.
Yes, this means that people will say things like “I will go to the chiropractor when I need to, when I can feel there is something wrong” rather than “chiropractic care is one of my healthy habits”. They are really saying “I only really want illness to be removed” rather than “I always want health to be added.”
The best time to give up healthy habbits
Think of a healthy habit you do. Anything. It could be eating healthily or avoiding alcohol on weekdays. It could be getting your regular dental check-ups. It could simply be a hygienic habit like brushing your teeth or wiping your bum. Now try saying “I will wipe my bum when I need to, when I can feel there is something wrong.” You get my point. The idea stinks.
When is the best time to stop doing a healthy habit? They may be a little tedious, but you carry on because you are investing in your health, right? Is that time wasted, or well invested? The average person poos about 31,000 times in their life. That translates into a whole week of your life, just wiping your bum. Is that time well spent?
When you decide that a habit is good for your health and happiness, it makes sense to make it a part of your lifestyle. Until when? Until you no longer want a healthy lifestyle. Or you no longer want any friends.
The Illusion of Self-sufficient health
Then there are people, myself included, who have been conditioned to believe that we should be “independent”, and “self-sufficient.” If we are healthy, then we should not need any outside help. They would argue that getting chiropractic care is not comparable to eating organic food or exercising, because we do not need to go to see someone for our diet or our exercise… we are independent. I understand this because I have shared this resistance, but it is an illusion.
In Buddhism the reference is “Tendrel”, or interdependent origination.
Everything we do is implicitly dependent on others. We do not build our own car, suck the fuel from the earth, and maintain it. We are implicitly dependent on others for those things. We do not (for the most part) grow all of our food or sew our clothes and footwear. We are implicitly dependent on others to do those for us. Our homes, energy supplies, and every other thing is a part of a fragile interconnected interdependence. We are not independent, instead we are critically dependent on others for most of what we do and consume. A transport strike can quickly remind us that our independence is a total illusion.
Yet when we come to actual real health decisions —I mean salutogenesis— we are under the illusion that we should be able to do this completely independently. It is absurd. And I blame medicine. Not medical doctors, but the damage done by medical doctrine. Millions —yes millions— of people who are educated enough to understand the benefits of chiropractic, and have the means and access to chiropractic care, fail to do this simple healthy habit. All because of an absurd illusion that we are independent, and that seeking ongoing care to be healthy is abnormal, or a sign of weakness. What a missed opportunity for a better life.
Can I make a difference?
When I wrote the book Befriend Gravity, my goal was to explain and offer chiropractic to people who did not know how this could, or should, form a part of their normal salutogenic practice. My goal was to inspire people to make positive, informed choices.
I am not deluded into believing that everyone will choose chiropractic anymore than I believe that we can convince every sedentary person to get off their ass and exercise. Chiropractic and exercise are both healthy choices. But most people don’t even know what chiropractic is, and how it can change their lives in the short and long term.
It is sad when people are unwell or unhappy, simply because they do not know that chiropractic can help them. There is no sedentary, obese person who does not know that eating less and exercising more is a good idea. We all know that exercise and a good diet are important. But there are millions of people on planet earth —many of them your very own friends and family— who are suffering without chiropractic care, and who simply do not know it could help. That is the difference. That is the problem. And my mission is to change it.
Making chiropractic care a healthy habit
Salutogenic chiropractic care is sometimes called wellness or vitalistic chiropractic care. It is about upgrading your health and capacity to heal. And it is a choice you can make at any time. You can drop it at any time. And you can return to it at any time. Only when you know what it is, how it works, and how it can help you.
The happiest and healthiest people I know have the education and instinct to know that chiropractic makes them a better person. A more healthy, happy, resilient person. They make the conscious choice to invest in chiropractic as a healthy habit. Not through guilt or obligation. Not to avoid illness. But to enjoy a better life and lifestyle. They make a routine —a ritual— of making time for their chiropractic appointment, arriving in a positive state, stopping for a stroll and perhaps a coffee afterwards, and carrying on their week in as the best version of themselves.
If it is not for you right now, that is ok. Make peace with that. Do not fight it, or blame someone else for it. We cannot all do every healthy habit at all times. Please do not resentfully go to see a chiropractor “because you have to.” It is your own health habit choice, just as brushing your teeth or wiping your bum are. Make your informed, conscious health choices, so they can be guilt-free. We should be happy with our health choices.
But don’t let the illusion of independence deny you the opportunity to achieve a higher level of health and happiness.
Be Inspired – Make conscious choices – Enjoy the journey