Healers and Ego

*Today's blog is uncharacteristically cranky.  I don't typically rant on here, but what can I say?  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today.  

Being the sole owner of a business can be a lonely proposition.  As much as I love being my own boss, I do admit to moments of longing for another presence in my practice aside from myself.  Sometimes it would be nice to have someone here to roll ideas around with, someone to laugh with...and of course, someone to occasionally complain to.

Since I don't yet have plans to incorporate another acupuncturist into my practice, I joined an unnamed forum through an unnamed social media group to mingle with others who share my love of this medicine.  Initially, I was kind of excited.  I saw a lot of familiar faces on this forum, and also many others whom I would never have had the opportunity to meet without being there.  My excitement lasted all of an hour.  As I scrolled through the commentary, I noticed a pervasive sense of self-righteousness and judgment within many of the posts.  The more I read, the more disenchanted I became.  It was like high school all over again: a group of massively insecure souls using bullying to prove that they were the better, the stronger, the only ones truly practicing this medicine in the correct way.  Never mind that acupuncture styles are as individual as snowflakes, or that what works for one patient may not work for another.  No, this was all-out war.  Every simple, well-meaning question was met with snark.  This forum wasn't about acupuncturists coming together to share their knowledge and give support; it was a place to show off and to display superiority.

It saddens me, because I expect better from people who practice this medicine.  I suppose I'm overly idealistic.  I am far from perfect, but at least I know it, and I enjoy opening myself to learning and growing.   I will never know all there is to know about my field, and that is as it should be.  I had always assumed that people gravitate toward this field due to a combination of wanting to help people, and wanting to engage in a never-ending cycle of learning.  I never imagined how many power-hungry, insecure narcissists I would encounter along the way.

I realize that this sounds incredibly negative, and by no means am I grouping all acupuncturists into this category.  I know so many wonderful, caring healers who put their patients' needs above their own ego.  But that's just life:  there will always be those few bad apples that stand out, leaving a lasting poor impression.  And the most unfortunate part is that these few bad ones are so convinced of their own superiority, they will never allow themselves even the possibility of change.  A practitioner who is averse to change and flow, one who feels they can do no wrong,  is not one you want to place your trust in.

The lesson here is to do your research, and to trust your instincts.  A good acupuncturist should listen to your needs, be flexible enough to change things up if they are not working, and most importantly, should not place every expectation on you without conforming to some expectations of yours.   Yes, patients do have a certain degree of responsibility for their progress.  There is nothing more frustrating than working on a patient for a pain issue, resolving it completely, and then having to do it all over again when said patient decides to run 18 miles after their session (this happens more often than you'd think).  Common sense, people...even if your acupuncturist has you feeling fantastic, the body needs time to heal.  If you come in for a session to assist with weight loss, don't eat a pizza after treatment and expect to drop pounds.  But on the other hand, if your acupuncturist has you coming in over and over and over, and you aren't seeing any results, something needs to change.

A lot of patients seem to think that it is acceptable to feel judged, belittled, and looked down on by their healthcare practitioners.  I'm not sure why this is the case, although I suspect that our current medical model nurtures this attitude.  If you are one of 50 patients coming in for the day, you don't really matter all that much; you're just another cog in the machine.  Asking questions makes a lot of us feel like "difficult patients," as if we are taking up precious time with our silly inquiries.   And so we come to just accept that we don't warrant a lot of attention or extra time,  and that hopefully our doctors know what is best for us.  Unfortunately, this attitude seems to be trickling down into other complementary healthcare fields, as well.

I didn't get into this medicine to make patients feel bad about their life choices, or to spend the day proving how much smarter I am than everyone else.  There are plenty of other acupuncturists who feel the exact same way.  So if you start seeing one of us, and feel intimidated, anxious, guilty, or ignored...keep looking.   Just because someone holds a degree, or has been practicing for 30 years, or has trained with Master Kung Fu Whatever...it doesn't necessarily mean that they are a good fit for YOU.  Trust your instincts, and listen to your gut.  Do you actually LIKE the person who is treating you?  Do you feel comfortable, respected, and safe?  If not...there is no shortage of acupuncturists to choose from (especially in my area!)  Don't give up until you find someone who treats you the way you deserve to be treated.