Expectation’s Twin

by adam on June 7, 2012

I wanted to start blogging to inform people about what we do here at Affordable Acupuncture, about how to get the most from treatment, about what Oriental medicine is and how it works, about a healthy lifestyle, about the health dangers out there in the world and about answer common questions patients often have.

To begin, I wanted to address something very important.  Expectation.

What I mean about expectation here is expectation of treatment progress and expectation of when one ‘should’ feel better.  Expectation can pertain to so much more (life, relationships, wealth, etc.) but I will not write in depth about these.

I had many conversations with a wise Buddhist monk I met in Kunming, China.  In one, he discussed that everything here in this illusion has a twin.  Good has bad, sun has moon, night has day, old has youth, yin has yang…etc.  How would we know what good times are without having bad times?   Would you know what happiness felt like if you never felt sadness?

Expectation’s twin is frustration.  Or one can say, expectation breeds frustration.  Without expectation, there can be no frustration.
In our American society, people want it now, want it fast.  Immediate gratification.  Instant riches, to get there now, fast food.  Western allopathic medicine feeds into this immediate gratification belief system.  Take this drug and feel better, fast.  Do you have a headache?  Well, take an Advil.  Do you have horrible back pain?  Well, take some celebrex.  Do you have stomach discomfort?  Well, take some nexium.  Are you ‘depressed’?  Well, take some paxil.  Still depressed?  Well, add abilify to the paxil.  Do these drugs really get rid of your problem?  Or do they temporarily numb and mask your symptom(s)?  Unfortunately, this belief system of what medicine is crosses over into the holistic medicine world.  Many people expect to be healed, if not immediately, then fast. If they do not ‘feel’ that anything is happening within 1-3 treatments, then it must not be working.

We have had many clients frustrated with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.  I will not lie to you.  Not everyone is 100% satisfied.  Impossible.  Many times the cause is not that the medicine does not work.  Rather, the problem is expectations were unreasonable and frustration was bred.  Acupuncture is a holistic treatment.  Holistic treatments are like a nudges to the body to begin healing itself.  With enough nudges, the body will move in the right direction, towards health and away from disease.  Acupuncture is not a panacea and one treatment will not fix all your problems.  Often, we get asked: “How many treatments do I need?” or “How long will it take for me to be better?”.  The only answer is… “It depends”.

“It depends? How can I rely on that?  Are you trying to get me to come for treatment forever?”  What does that mean?”  Of course these are just assumptions as to what my clients are thinking.  I cannot hear my patients’ thoughts.  At least not yet.

An ancient Chinese general rule is that for every year a health condition has been a problem, one month of treatment is necessary.  You can start your expectations there and any less treatment will be saved time, money and energy.  Some people heal faster than others.  It is that simple.

More general rules are:

  • The older one is, the longer treatment will take.
  • The weaker someone is, longer treatment and more frequent treatment is necessary.
  • The more frequent treatment you get, the faster you will feel better.
  • Lifestyle changes are necessary in conjunction with treatment.
  • Just because you feel better, you might not be entirely rid of the problem.

These general rules are not always the case, however.  ‘Always’ twin would be ‘Never’.  I use the word ‘general’ as the rules pertain to more of the people rather than less.  We do see some people who heal dramatically fast.  I have treated people one time and don’t hear from them for 1-2 years and they tell me their shoulder/neck/digestion has been better ever since the treatment.  It is always a pleasant story to hear although I do not make it my expectation to heal everyone who comes into the office in one treatment as that would create my own frustration.

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