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i am not a miracle worker

help yourself

I follow the insights of a very interesting on-line business coach, who is also an acupuncturist, and he recently posted this on Facebook.  I grabbed it because I wince every time I read it.  It sounds kind of harsh, and I’m not sure I’d ever say something like this to a patient.


It is really important for patients to understand how acupuncture works, and why – maybe – it doesn’t sometimes.

When a doctor gives you a medication for your pain, the medication doesn’t rectify the problem, it only masks the symptom.  If you went to see your doc because of back pain, the meds you get will ease the pain, but not change the problem.  If you have breathing difficulties, the meds will temporarily ease your breathing, but will not heal your lungs.  (This doesn’t mean, btw, that these things will never heal.  Just sayin’)

When you go to an acupuncturist, the treatment may ease your pain, but it has the potential to do so much more.  That’s because acupuncture doesn’t treat the symptom (pain), although it’s a nice perk if the pain lets up.  Acupuncture treats you who has the pain, giving you the opportunity to self-correct.  Acupuncture is not imposed on you.  The acupuncturist does not ‘make you better’.  You have to help, too.

If you go to a doctor and that doesn’t help, and you go to an acupuncturist and that doesn’t work, and you try massage and naturopathy and any number of healing modalities and you still have pain, have you considered that the one commonality in all this is you?  And that all this seeking is going to those outside of you to make you better, rather than looking within for things you can do to assist yourself?

I know that when most of my patients finally walk in my door, they are suffering, and usually have been for some time.  It would be wonderful if I could wave my magic needles and the suffering would be gone.  Done.  Finished.    When I was recovering from childhood trauma, there was nothing I wanted more than for someone to just erase the pain and depression.  I wanted a life that was joyful and productive, free from all that nastiness that seemed to cling to me.  So I understand what is underlying the request for help.  I think we all want someone to make it all better, let us relax into that cherishing embrace of love and protection.  But if that’s only what this is all about, we’d still be infants.

I am not an infant, and I have a part to play in my own healing.  In fact, if we’re all the stars of our own plays, we are the only healers for us.  There are no doctors, acupuncturists, gurus, shamans, dentists, lawyers whatever who can cure us of what ails us.

There is only us, and the teachers we search for who suggest things that, if they resonate with us, can lead us to the next step in our healing.  I can use my needles to urge a certain point to suggest a response from you, and if that suggestion works for you, you will respond with some new steps of your own.  I think of it like this: you’ve invited me to dance with you a while, maybe teach you some new dance steps that will ease your journey.  Since I’m good at what I do and love it, I will give you my very best, every time.  But it would be wildly inappropriate of me to drag you, kicking and screaming, into what I perceive to be a better life for you.  Much, much more appropriate is for you to explore the new ideas that arise while we work together, and make the changes that you know will help you out.

Change your diet.  Don’t push through the pain in order to stick with your workout program.  Adjust your expectations with grace.  Heck, you might even start looking for a job that doesn’t drive you crazy.  You are not helpless.  You are not a victim of your body or your culture or those crazy expectations you create for yourself.  You are, in fact, pretty darn awesome, and it’s an honor to dance with you a while.  You teach me a lot.


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