Years ago I was shadowing one of my massage teachers observing her working on a client. During her intake the client pointed to her left arm and said, “This is my bad arm,” without missing a beat my teacher cradled her client’s arm and spoke to it as if it had ears, “Shhhhh! You didn’t hear that.” We all laughed and the treatment continued. That lesson stuck with me like gorilla glue and I still use it to this day. Almost all of my clients come to me with similar statements. I’ve even said things like this myself. “I’ve ALWAYS had problems with this leg.” “This is my WEAKER knee.” “I get CHRONIC pain in my neck.” “I have colds EVERY month.” “I had a doctor tell me that all my pain stems from my spine being damaged at birth.”

Take a moment to ponder all the beliefs that you have about your body. Do you believe that one of your legs is better than the other? Do you have a chronic condition? Think about what statements you or other healthcare practitioners may have said to you in the past. What if that statement was just an opinion and not a fact?

I believe that there is such a thing as having weaker sides and that we favor one part over the other. I am not discounting that our bodies experience pain and discomfort. I have pain. However, when we are in pain we are vulnerable and when we are vulnerable, we want answers to why we feel so awful. As a healthcare provider I believe that we must be careful with the messages we give to our clients and that messages can be negative or they can be positive. From that vulnerable place of pain, our clients can take away the message that they have been doing something wrong and that they have a “chronically bad arm” or they can take away that they have been doing most things right. And that “yes, their arm hurts AND these are the things that are going well with the rest of their body.” People may carry those beliefs with them for years until they or someone else finally overrides them.

“Shhhhh! You didn’t hear that!”

Written by Joy Dunning, LMP