Words are powerful.
Words reflect our attitudes towards people, events, and ourselves.
Words can reveal our outlook on the nature of the world.
Words are reciprocal.
Words can influence our attitudes towards people, events, and ourselves.
Words can reinforce our outlook on the nature of the world.
A driver cuts you off on the highway and forces you to slam on your brakes to avoid a collision -
‘That asshole! What the hell are they thinking?! I’ll punch ‘em in the face!’
‘Holy shit! I’m glad I saw that coming. Is everyone okay back there?’
Are our attitudes towards people, events, ourselves -
Gratitude amidst the flow?
If our outlook is more defensive, reactionary, angered,
We will find shit to be angry about.
If our outlook is more gratitude,
Then we will find more opportunities to see joy.
Our words hold power.
Words reflect and influence our attitude and outlook,
Our words also reflect and influence our attitudes regarding those we interact with.
Enter a patient into your treatment room.
They seek your expertise and care regarding a medial knee pain.
After your evaluation, you summarize their presentation and it sounds like this:
‘The pes anserinus and medial collateral ligament of your left knee are both inflamed because you have weak, poorly testing hip abductors and weak external rotators. The medial and lateral hamstrings both test poorly. You also have an externally rotated L leg, a leg-length discrepancy, and an asymmetric pelvis and lumbar spine because of your weak core muscles. The poor position of your lumbar spine and pelvis are causing the poor function and weak muscle testing at your left hip and subsequently your left knee. Also, your left foot is flat - pes planus as we call it - and it forces your knee to crash inward even more. We need to fix your posture, add an orthotic arch supports, strengthen your weak core, strengthen your left hip to fix your knee.’
Here is a list of shit that is wrong with you.
Or, a summary could sound like this:
‘Thank you for this opportunity to work with you. Our focus will be to build up the protection of your left knee. The hip is in charge of controlling the side-to-side and twisting motion of your leg; including your left knee. Your hip is not as efficient as it could be, allowing more stress to your knee. That is related to some asymmetry of your pelvis. We will retrain some key core muscles how to do their job better to hold your pelvis. That will allow a stable base for your left hip muscles to work and become more efficient at controlling your knee. Your foot served you and your knee well without help up until this injury, so we may or may not need a little kickstand to help as we regain your hip.’
Words are shapely.
Do I see a problem
Do I see opportunity?
If I find myself using negative or destructive words,
My interactions will offer negativity, de-constructiveness.
If I find myself using generative words,
My interactions will offer gratitude, constructivity.
Which brings us back to the car cutting us off on the highway.
Do we respond with retributive, violent words?
Or do we respond with words of gratitude,
Even in the wake of potentially life-threatening event?
Words are reflective.
Even the subtle ones shown in the evaluation summaries.
Their implications are larger than many would think.
Do we see the patient as a set of problems that we have to fix?
Or do we see the patient as a gift,
An opportunity to share your talents with and care for?
If I see problem,
I see inconvenience,
I see that which I want to avoid,
To protect me and my interests -
Then the patient is an intrusion,
An actual problem,
A disruption to my day.
The patient is one of many that are in the way of me leaving work
To head back to my house.
If I see opportunity, however,
If I see an invitation
To offer my care and skillset -
Then the patient is a gift -
Part of the actual thing I get to participate with,
The purpose of my day.
The patient is a part of my intention and fulfillment
To enjoy throughout my day.
Words speak, even if we aren’t aware of what they are saying.
If I saw patients as a problem, inconvenience or
Part of something that I have to get through to get home,
Patients will pick up on that same negativity.
If that is the picture someone’s words paint for me,
I would find it hard to want to participate with that intent.
I would be very disinterested in working with that person.
I would care less about the exercise or activity I was asked to do at home.
I would find it difficult to keep those appointments.
If I saw patients as opportunity, gift -
Part of the joy of my day,
Patients will pick up on that generativity.
If that is the picture your words paint,
I would find more ways to participate with that intent.
I would be very interested in working with that person.
I would care about my responsibility in participating with my care, at the clinic and home.
I would work hard to keep those appointments.
Our words are reflections of how we see the world.
How we see the world is shaped by the lenses we have been handed and adopted over time.
The health of our lenses has great impact,
As does the health of our words,
On the health of the care we provide.
By Dr Adam Fujita PT, DPT CAFS
8 Years of clinical experience in the physical therapy environment.