Wellness: Asking the Right Question

640px-Iceberg_with_hole_edit[originally published in KCN, May 2012]

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on an iceberg.  Now imagine that you are oblivious to this fact.  As you sit there you begin to notice something:  Your body is shaking and your hands and feet are turning blue.  For good reason you become very concerned, “What’s wrong with me?” you ask.

As you pursue a diagnosis for your condition, you are evaluated and prescribed medications to improve your circulation and calm your jittery nerves.  The medications seem to work at first, but you soon find that you must continue taking them for ongoing relief of your disturbing ailment.

Sound silly?  Perhaps.  But I think many of us are unknowingly sitting on “icebergs.”

When it comes to health and healing, as a nation, we fall short when it comes to being well.  In the United States we spend more money on health care than any other country on the planet, and yet rank embarrassingly low on the charts for being one of the sickest.  Why?

Recently I interviewed Dr. James Chestnut, a chiropractor who is a renowned wellness expert, on my Spinal Column Radio program.  He explained, and I agree, that part of the answer is because we’ve been trained to ask the wrong questions regarding our health.  Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our physiology and how to change it with a pill when something isn’t right, that we fail to recognize the driving force behind the symptoms is the environment that we are in.

Symptoms, while sometimes disturbing and uncomfortable — if not painful — are an intelligent response as body tries to adapt to or cope with a pathological stressor.  Symptoms are not mistakes.  They are there for a reason.

So in the case of our iceberg analogy, the body was adapting to the stressful situation of existing in freezing temperatures.  In an attempt to buy survival time, the muscles began to shiver to generate heat and blood was diverted from the extremities to the core to protect the internal organs.  In this instance, any kind of “treatment” that focused on the “symptoms” of shaking and blue hands and feet only interfered with the body’s “fight or flight” adaptation to this stressful environment.

Treating symptoms will not bring about wellness, nor will ignoring them and allowing the body to compensate.  The answer lies in changing our environment, and ultimately our behavior.  It is only then that our physiology will begin to change.

Every time we begin with the question, “What’s wrong with me?” we end up with a solution that treats a symptom.  The best questions are questions that probe deeper, such as, “What’s wrong with my environment, and why is my body being forced into a state of stressful adaptation?”  It is when we start to ask these questions, both individually and as a nation, that we can begin to move towards a solution of truly being well.

What’s your iceberg?

____________

Dr. Thomas R. Lamar is a chiropractor at Anchor Chiropractic in Kingston’s Health Services Center and is the host of SpinalColumnRadio.com.  He can be reached at (360) 297-8111 or on the web at AnchorChiropractic.net.

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