In my last post, I used the phrase "buy in", as in clients have to "buy in" to what I am teaching and doing, how I can help. I wanted to expand on that a little bit because I don't particularly like that phrase (it makes me wince just writing it), but I do feel that a "buy in" is what needs to happen to help people heal. Here's what I mean:
Most people who have an issue with their body at some point in their recovery process are told by very smart people that "this is the reason for your pain or dysfunction." It's what we want as humans; we like definitive answers. It's what we expect from professionals; they should know what they are doing and they are the professional, right?
And the reasons that we are given for our pain or dysfunction sound reasonable. Who wouldn't have pain if they have disc degeneration or a muscle strain or wear and tear in their joints? Who wouldn't have difficulty moving around if they've been told their joints are wearing out or their muscles are the tightest that professional has ever seen or they have terrible posture?
But here's the thing. We are alive. And because we are alive, we have the ability to heal; our bodies are adaptable. Biological organisms are designed to protect themselves and keep themselves alive; that is the purpose of life - to remain living! Our bodies, and our nervous system in particular, innately know how to do this - reaching out with our hands as we stumble to catch ourself before we hit the ground, pulling our hand away from the hot pan we just touched, running away from the bear in the woods. Our nervous system's job is to keep us alive and it does what it has to to accomplish this goal.
So here's where the "buy in" has to happen. If you come to me with an issue with your body and you have seen other professionals who have told you things that sound an awful lot like "you are broken and there is no fixing you" or "you are broken and the only way to fix you is to do xyz", there's a bit of hurdle to get over, yeah?! Somebody whose opinion holds a lot of weight has told you there is something wrong with you and either you won't ever get better or you'll only get better if you do xyz. It's kind of a bummer, right? It's even more of a bummer if you've tried really hard to do xyz and you are still in pain or still can't do the things you want to do. Now you're in pain and you feel like a failure/that your body is failing you.
And then I come along and say things like "I don't know for sure why you're in pain. What do you think?" or "What does your life look like right now? Are you under a lot of stress?" or "This pain you're having could be because there is trapped nervous system energy in your body from that time you nearly drowned as a kid. You weren't allowed to properly discharge that energy after the event and/or you didn't have anyone to help co-regulate you after that near-drowning and now all of that fight or flight energy and the resulting hormone and stress chemical fallout still lives inside of you as if it just happened to you yesterday. Your body has been responding to the stress of that event every single day since it happened, PLUS you live in the modern world where stressors are every.where. so now we're dealing with stress on top of stress on top of stress and pain is a wonderful way to make you pay attention to what's going on in the body! Of course you're in pain!"
Of course you're in pain. Of course it's hard for you to do the things you want to do. Stress, "a condition that imposes severe demands on the physical and psychological defenses of the organism", is rampant in our lives. It doesn't have to be a near death experience; stress is having been let to cry it out as an infant, being teased and made fun of, the death of a loved one, living under artificial light, being exposed to chemicals in the environment, having an ill parent or sibling when you were a child, being given a lot of antibiotics for infection as a child, financial difficulties, surgeries, watching a loved one be injured, abuse, a natural disaster, getting lost in a store as a child...the list goes on and on and on. There are nuances to levels of stress, types of stress and how we respond to stress that will be sussed out in future posts and we also require stress! (But for now, we're looking at what stress can do in our body and how it may be a part of why we have pain or difficulty doing things.)
Suffice it to say, your pain is likely due to more than just one thing that can be fixed with an exercise or a medicine or a surgery or a particular type of bodywork. Will you see improvements with those things? Most likely, yes! Medical professionals base their treatments and recommendations on what we have seen, formally via research and informally via clinical experience, help other people feel better. We want you to get better! We want you to feel better! But, I feel wholeheartedly, that if I am not helping you understand what is happening in your body, helping you piece together the picture of your pain and dysfunction, addressing all the systems that are contributing to your pain, helping to move that old fight or flight energy out of your body, helping to build resilience and space in your nervous system, helping your prioritize rest and recovery, that I'm not doing the best job I can be doing to help you heal.
It's a "buy in", isn't it?
You have to "buy in" to the idea that your issue can't be solved with just one exercise or one session of bodywork. You have to "buy in" to looking at the stuff in your life you don't want to look at. You have to "buy in" to connecting with a body that you have ignored for years, maybe decades, and then listening to it. You have to "buy in" to sitting with difficult feelings that arise from your body, potentially difficult memories and what you had to do to survive. You have to "buy in" to knowing with your whole heart that you have done the very best you could. You have to "buy in" to the fact that your parents, while they did the best they could and love you to the ends of the earth, likely hurt you because they didn't know better and that it's ok to love them and feel hurt. You have to "buy in" to multi-faceted healing that addresses your physical body and your mental and emotional and spiritual bodies, as well. You have to "buy in" to non-traditional, non-Western medicine healing practices that may seem weird to you, but have helped lots and lots of other people.
We are complicated. Life is complicated. Healing is complicated. But healing, from physical pain or movement dysfunction or chronic illness or burnout or relationship fissures, is so worth it. Finding peace inside yourself where you can find the freedom to be who you were meant to be is worth every single ounce of energy and pain it might take to get there. And I am here, ready to help you get started or continue your journey, when you are ready!
(I offer stressed-out, burnt-out women in pain opportunities to begin and continue on their healing journeys via hands on nervous system regulation, otherwise known as bodywork, movement instruction for nervous system regulation via improved communication with the body, and BodyMind Coaching to help put all of this together to help you heal and take charge of your health. I offer in person services in Spicer, MN and online BodyMind Coaching. Additionally, I have an online group coaching program launching this year. For more information, check my website kirstinbergman.com).