“Just Like Riding a Bike”

bicycle brain think man headFirst of all–WOW!–thank you for those of you who read, shared, and interacted with last week’s post, “Don’t be an Optimist: The Stockdale Paradox” (it was a LOT of you)! For those of you who didn’t read it, take a few minutes and do so now. It will definitely help set the backdrop for today’s post.

Today, I want to introduce you to Destin from Smarter Every Day. I ran across the following video from him, and I knew I absolutely had to share it with you. Watch it, and then I’ll tell you my thoughts below.

The reason I loved this video was two-fold. First, I found it fascinating how much Destin struggled with riding the bike. To watch him struggle with the “new” bike but also struggle when he returned to the “standard” bike blew my mind. Second, and most importantly, I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned that your body not only takes time to change, but so does your mindset.

We Egoscue therapists tell you on your first visit that your pain is due to poor posture. We, no doubt, do an incredible job explaining the posture/pain connection, talk through your posture photos–clearly pointing out your structural deviations–and jump right in to your therapy appointment after seeing you nod your head in agreement.

You tell us that you understand the posture/pain connection, but do you really?

Personally, after watching Destin’s video, I’m not convinced you do.

And, if I’m being honest, your actions certainly tell me differently. Five weeks into therapy, you get an MRI on your painful shoulder (Surely there must be something else causing my pain…). Three years later, you have surgery on your knee (They’re just going in to “clean some things up…”). Fifteen years later, you’re having your hip replaced (It was just too far gone).

You see, you believe that there is something else responsible for why you hurt. You told me you believed in the posture/pain connection, but you really didn’t. And, your lack of understanding isn’t your fault. No, quite the opposite.

Your lack of understanding was my fault. I failed you.

I explained the posture/pain connection to you on your first visit to the clinic. Perhaps we talked about it a few more times throughout the therapy process, but, I didn’t talk about it enough. In essence, I gave you Destin’s “new” bicycle and let you ride it a few times. You told me you “got it” and knew how to ride it, but you really didn’t. The truth is that you couldn’t hardly even balance on the bike, let alone ride it. I needed to give you that “new” bicycle over and over again. You needed to be reminded on a monthly, weekly, daily basis that your compromised posture is to blame for your pain. Regardless if the pain is in your shoulder, knee, or hip..they ALL have the same cause. They’re all connected.

To relate today’s post to last week’s post, I shouldn’t have placed a timeline on you to “get” what I was telling you. I said your posture is causing your pain, you nodded in agreement, and I kept right on going. I knew how to ride the bike–I take the posture/pain connection for granted–and assumed you did as well, but you actually had no idea. Not only that, but I failed to recognize that you hadn’t even seen a bike like this before, let alone ridden one.

I loved what Peggy, one of the blog commenters, had to say about the Stockdale Paradox:

“…if Stockdale prevailed, what is in me that might feel as tho’ I might never be pain-free (long term pain = prison camp)? Thought patterns are hard to change sometimes when they have been long-lived. I do believe in change … not sure about the hows.”

I’m going to guess that Destin, on at least one occasion, thought to himself, This is crazy. I’m NEVER going to learn to ride this bike.

His thought pattern was hard to change.

Yet he didn’t give up. Just like Admiral Stockdale, Destin had faith that he would prevail, regardless of his circumstances.

You and Destin are more similar than you might think. You believe you can ride the bike; you just have to be taught how. It’s the same thing with your body: I know that you believe you can eliminate your pain and get your life back. It’s up to us, as Egoscue therapists, to teach you how. It’s crucial that we continually remind you of the posture/pain connection. We have to continually educate you about how to take control of your health back into your hands.

We know thought patterns are hard to change, especially when they’ve been that way for a while! But, it’s time you learn to ride the “new” bike. Don’t worry, we’ll be right beside you.

QUESTION: What was your takeaway from Destin’s video?