Last time we covered what makes a practice member different from a patient. Summed up, a practice member is empowered, collaborative, and proactive – they seek can that is focused on them as a PERSON.

So how do you make the best of that kind of care? Fortunately we’ve been doing that all along AND today we’ll help you to better help yourself by diving into the art and science of making sustainable changes… and even better than that, sustainable PROGRESS!

You may have noticed some posters around the office that describe something called “The Triad of Change”. Are these three places we put spare coins? Um… no. This is a handy reminder that anytime we’re seeking to make changes, there are three fundamental components to that change:

  • There’s your “thing” – like your body, your beliefs, your bicycle. We’ll call that Structure.
  • There’s what you do, your function – like walking, riding, dancing, digesting. We’re calling that Behavior.
  • There’s your experience, your thoughts, your meaning to give to the experience – that feels like Perception.

These three “legs of the triangle” and their level of health – how well each one works, how well they work together, and what we think about them (which parts we really like, don’t like, and identify with) – says a LOT about us!

Here’s a simple experiment: change your structure by sticking your head all the way forward and then looking down at your feet. You’ve just changed your structure. You may already notice changes in your breathing, your pulse, or your mood! Now, the proof is in the pudding – in this posture, focus on the worst thing that’s ever happened to you or that you’re afraid of happening to you. Really go for it – don’t worry, this won’t take long. Now, without changing posture, switch your focus to the best day of your life! Which Perception was it easier to fully experience?

Fun for, let’s turn that around – instead of curling over and looking at your feet, lift up your heart, roll your shoulders back, and look up. You’ve just changed your structure in a different way. You may already notice changes in your breath, pulse, or mood. Here’s the moment of truth: in this posture, focus on the best day of your life – the best thing you’ve experienced or look forward to experiencing! Now, without changing posture, switch your focus to the worst thing ever. Which Perception was it easier to fully experience? If you’re anything like the thousands of people I’ve done that exercise with, you may just have started laughing when I asked you to focus on the worst thing that second time – I’ve even had people say “No way, doc!” Because in that moment you really CAN feel how your structure affects your Perception!

The same thing applies in other ways – a lot of people I know exercise because they just feel so good afterwards! Your behavior affects your perception! Some people exercise at the gym to get the body and posture they desire – behavior affects structure! Likewise, your perception – your habits of focus, meaning, and feeling – can directly affect your behavior and your structure! Ever not gone to the gym “Because you didn’t feel like it?” Ever noticed that when you think about someone a certain way, you can get angry, you tense up, your blood pressure rises, and your posture gets worse… and when you think about someone in a different way, you can feel loving and your body relaxes?

From a journal article by Drs. Jobst, Shostak, and Whitehouse, ‘‘perceived meaning and the way it affects how life is lived is at the root of all disease.’’ It’s kind of a big deal! That’s why, in addition to our chiropractic work with your spine (structure) to help your nerve system become more adaptable to stress (behavior), I’ve been offering these “health stories” about different ways to look at your body, your health, and your life… and I’ve been inviting you to step up from patient into practice member by exploring how your body, your symptoms, and your experience can truly be a catalyst for a better life and to make a positive impact on the world!

This is where the rubber meets the road as a practice member. To make any progress sustainable, you’ve got to involve all three legs of the triad – your structure, your behavior, AND your perception.  Here is a “take home” exploration for you… if you dare! Explore YOUR current Triad: In general, how healthy is your structure? Your behavior? Your perception? Which parts of your Triad are you currently taking care of the most? When you have challenges, which one of these becomes most painful – your structure, your behavior, or your perception? Which parts of your Triad do you tend to ignore or take for granted? Get real – these may be what set you free!

I knew a person who was an accomplished meditator – truly an amazing ability to be present, such clarity, a ton of compassion. Amazing Perception. Her posture was a source of pain – no matter what, it didn’t change, and she felt it was holding her back. Rigid Structure. She never thought about Behavior – her life was about Perception, and her symptoms were in her Structure! Rather than compete with her posture, we simply added the third leg to her Triad – she decided to start exercising. What happened? WAY better posture AND her meditation became deeper… upgrading her behavior helped her structure and perception!

This week, get a sense of your structure, behavior, and perception. In case you haven’t already guessed, yes – this “Triad” can apply to life stuff, too… and let’s start with your body and your health because the healthier you are on ALL levels, the easier other stuff gets!

The exercise this week will help reorganize your spinal structure and neural behavior to your more authentic signal… and help you start perceiving what’s REALLY going on so that you have better choices and health available! Let’s dive deeper into Stage 5!