How is coaching like chiropractics?
As a life coach, I focus on assisting my clients to achieve desirable goals in their life. Much of success is outwardly focused - the job, the paycheck, the relationship, etc. However, part of how I assist my clients in achieving these goals is to focus on the INNER experiences they have in relationship to those goals. Are there blocks? Are there fears? Are there doubts or limiting beliefs that are standing in the way of “YOU” and “IT?” Learning to harness and master the “self” is true success and the outer success that’s achieved is simply an outer reflection of that inner experience.
AWARENESS is the first step on our journey of growth. This growth is not always clear since, as I mentioned, much of it is happening internally. If we slow down our mind and go within, we are better able to see the areas that need our attention. When our mind is too busy to even recognize our opportunities for learning or growth, those opportunities will still show up and they usually do so in an area you will be forced to listen to. For me, that place is my BODY.
Here’s my story:
A few months back, I was driving my aunt and uncle around town when my uncle mentioned how I was sitting poorly in the driver’s seat. He kept asking if I was okay, to which I responded, “Yes, I always sit like this because I’m in pain when I drive for long periods of time…or stand for long periods of time…or pretty much do anything for any amount of time.” He looked at me like I was crazy and I ignored him, much like I was ignoring the intensely sharp shooting paints that have aggravated my back on practically a daily basis for the last 8 years.
When my family and I got to our destination - the Playa Vista Farmer’s Market - my attention was drawn to this guy standing under a tent that looked almost identical to my ex. It was enough for me to look twice. The first time, admittedly, was to check him out and the second was to see who he was and what he was doing there. He was doing spinal exams for his chiropractic office. Not interested. I kept walking along with my family to go grab some food. After getting some crepes, we headed back and sat down at the table across from his tent and I couldn’t help but notice my gaze kept finding its way back over in his general direction. He was attractive, yes, but something more powerful was grabbing my attention. In moments like those, I’ve learned that if it’s in my best interest to listen to that incessant, unrelenting voice telling me to do something. Thanks, Universe. I hear you LOUD AND CLEAR!
Sooooo, I found my way over to the tent and did the initial check. No surprise - he recommended a follow-up consultation. The part of me that hates being “sold” anything was the part that walked right by his tent the first time. But, there’s a reason I actually walked in, right? My body HURTS!!! Wasn’t that reason enough for me to keep listening and take the consultation? "But UGH…if I go, he’s going to tell me I need to have work done and I’m going to have to PAY for it.“ This was totally my mindset. I was thinking, "Let me avoid all of the annoying stuff and just keep ignoring the pain.” At NO point (even as a life coach), was I thinking, “Oh, what a lovely gesture that this guy is out here in the ridiculous summer heat encouraging people to take better care of their health and he’s giving them a great deal to get in the door to show them just how much room there is for improvement!” Of course not. I projected my own distaste for “selling” my life coaching services even though I know how valuable they are to changing peoples’ lives. I was behaving the same way as those clients I KNOW could benefit from my work, but refuse to do it because they don’t want to put in the time, money, or effort. Ok, Universe…message number two: RECEIVED.
So, I signed up for the consultation at his office, where, to be expected, I saw all of the things going “wrong” with my back. Again, my pattern of avoidance was telling me that it must be how chiropractors get people in. They take some tests and show you your “bad back” to encourage you to keep coming in. Oddly, my brain STILL hadn’t registered that maybe, JUST MAYBE, my back was in bad shape. That would explain the severe pain, wouldn’t it? I had my doubts, but something kept telling me to “just say yes.”
My doctor gave me two options: 1) to sign up for as many sessions that would get me out of pain or 2) to sign up for more sessions that would actually help me heal. "Well, OBVIOUSLY, if I’m going to do this, I am going to FIX it.“ That’s like when my life coaching clients have an issue and they walk out feeling better and think everything is all better. Well, maybe for the time being, but if you don’t heal the underlying behaviors that got you there, you’re going to end up in that same place over and over again until you learn your lesson. Ugh. Being a life coach and having to "live by example” was really showing me what I needed to do here. I signed up for a long-term healing process. There was a lot of work that lied ahead, but at that point, I was willing to try ANYTHING to get me to feel better. Despite my past unsuccessful experiences with chiropractors, my intuition kept telling me to trust the process.
What’s funny is that, as I’m writing about this, I’m reflecting back on all these decisions I made and, to my chiropractor, I probably seemed on board from the beginning with NO hesitation. I appeared to be a responsible patient who knew the value of self-care and was on board from the get-go. Not so. All of these doubts, fears, and worries were going on internally and lasted a couple of seconds when confronted with each new choice. I decided, however, in those brief seconds that the only way to break my old pattern was to create a new one. I instantly cast aside the “no” and just said “yes.”
Currently, I’m about halfway through the treatment process and I have to say this - I’ve healed in more ways than I could have initially imagined. As a coach, I’m aware that holistic healing happens on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels and I wanted to be sure that my physical healing included those other components. Even though this chiropractor isn’t in my network (and there were plenty of others who are), I had a feeling that THIS particular chiropractic office was where I would receive that level of healing I required.
For starters, my chiropractor assisted me not only with slowly alleviating the physical pain in my lower back, he pointed out to me the source of much of my tension is actually in my upper back and also in my neck’s reverse curvature (thus creating issues in my low back). This level of awareness (there’s that word I used earlier!) has brought about a level of healing beyond the physical. I noticed that I often held my breath in times of stress or anxiety and I would feel pressure go straight to my shoulders. Now, with this new awareness, I recognized this behavior that didn't serve me and shifted into a new behavior that would. While I can’t always alleviate stressors from my life, I DO know ways of working through them. Now, I am conscious of my breath in stressful moments and I’ve created an even larger awareness that’s helping me in my life and my work - ACCEPTANCE. Acceptance is what I work with my clients on after “awareness.” If we want to change anything in our lives, we first have to accept it. Sounds counterintuitive (as I said in another blog), but this acceptance allows us to be in the flow rather than resistance. This flow generates the energy and focus needed in order to create change. “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Smart dude, that Einstein. If we SHIFT our thinking (or energy), we create altitude from which we can see the problem and eventually solve it. So, I noticed that I would get anxious in situations where I perceive that I have no “control.” For instance, DRIVING IN LA. By understanding that there really is no such thing as control (I cannot control what other people do or don’t do), I am able to accept what is and then make better decisions. For example, I stress out a LOT in the car about being late. Sure, it’s easy to get upset with people for going too slow or cutting me off causing me to catch a red light. But honestly, my trying to CONTROL THEM is me relinquishing MY CONTROL. I’m basically handing over my control to them and becoming a victim of circumstances. So, what I learned is this - if I want to have any form of control over my anxiety, I could accept that traffic patterns shift and choose to leave 5 minutes earlier and not stress about getting there late OR if I couldn’t leave 5 minutes earlier and I end up getting there late, accept that I’m going to be late. (This is empowerment over victimization again - don’t worry, I really am blogging about that one soon!) My worrying cannot change the fact that I will be late, so why induce stress to make matters worse? While this is sometimes easier said than done, at least now, I can actually FEEL the tension in my shoulders and am aware that I am creating it and am responsible for it.
On another note, one of my favorite things my chiropractor told me once when remarking on my posture was to “lift from the heart.” He basically meant that our chest needs to tilt upwards, thereby having our shoulders go back and our head align with our shoulders (creating a nice straight line: ears, shoulders, hips). I not-so-accidentally misheard him and thought he said “LEAD” from the heart. Same thing, really, but it had much more of an impact on me having heard it the “wrong” way. Thinking about my decisions and actions on a daily basis from THIS perspective has been so emotionally liberating. I teach my clients to eliminate the word “should” from their vocabulary and to live in accordance with their heart’s desire. What this affirmation, “lead from the heart,” did for me was give me a physical posture to assume when making decisions. Whenever I feel indecisive about any kind of decision, if I can state that decision and keep my chest out, I know I’ve made a choice I feel confident about.
On a more personal note, I was in the office this past week and during my adjustment, I broke out into tears. My chiropractor was incredibly gentle and patient with me and mentioned that by releasing the energy in the body, we also start to release whatever emotions we might have stored up there as well. That was definitely the truth! I realized that I had been internalizing a lot of my emotional stress and had no outlet for it. I thought back to a time when I had worked with an energy healer and she told me that she knew I was a dancer who loved yoga - that I was someone who needs to move her body and that when I move, others are compelled to watch me. Dancing and yoga are both huge releases for me and I would find myself avoiding them. I actually walked into a dance class one day and within about 3 minutes, I had run to the bathroom in tears. Emotion streamed out of me that I couldn’t hold in just from being in that space, preparing to dance. It was as though I knew everything I’d be holding on to could be released and it was scary to think of what might come out. Sometimes it feels like I can’t be happy with anything or anyone (including myself) unless I get that stuff out. Dancing is my way of releasing which then opens me up to something much bigger than myself - it opens me up to the Divine.
So, the reason I share all of this is to show you all that healing, no matter which path you choose to walk down to begin, WILL surface on all levels and it’s important to trust the process and receive assistance along the way. If you are doing physical healing, mental and emotional healing will occur. If you are doing emotional healing, physical and mental healing will occur. If you are doing mental healing, emotional and physical healing occur. We are WHOLE and, therefore, in order to really benefit from the work that we are doing on one level, we have to heal on ALL levels. This is why people on diets (doing physical work) sometimes need to work with a therapist to work through the emotional eating they do. Or, people with emotional challenges will see a therapist who tells them to begin an exercise regime. Our mind, body, and soul all operate in harmony and if one aspect is off-balance and in need of attention, the other areas will fluctuate with it. I encourage you to embrace healing on ALL levels. Hire a life coach, a personal trainer, a dietician, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, an energy healer, a psychologist, or call your doctor for a check-up. Whatever the healing is, begin…from the inside out.