Vitalism. The emphasis on the non-physical, non-chemical aspect of the human experience. It seems as if vitalism is one of those terms with multiple definitions and general descriptions. What exactly is vitalism? It is not as simple as viewing the body, as simple being connected with every part. It is an entire belief system and a way of life. On the other end of the spectrum, we have mechanism. The focus on the physical, measurable and chemical aspect of who we are. Mechanism is also a belief system, a way of life. As chiropractors, we call ourselves vitalists, but is that truly what we embody with our entire being?
I would argue that most people don’t come from a place of vitalism in their life. Not truly. Within the doctrine of vitalism, we are all connected through a life force, and we all have within us a potential that is unique to ourselves. Entelechy is growth through the realization of that potential. It is recognizing our life force, our connection and our power. This shows in chiropractic as universal and innate intelligence. But when is the last time you walked through life fearlessly and liberated by the fact that the one thing holding you back is just unrecognized potential?
Most people come from a different place, a mechanistic place. They come from a place of scarcity. Comparison, arrogance, and judgment can cloud our day-to-day minds. We question our uniqueness and most importantly, our potential. Comparison from a place of scarcity is recognizing the potential in others and fearing we will come up short. We see the strengths and victories of others, only to look back and see a shortage of our own abilities to be like them. Arrogance is born out of comparison. From a mechanistic view of scarcity, we inflate the strengths we know we have, to compensate for the fixated weaknesses that haunt our minds at night. Arrogance is dangerous to potential because it accepts our weaknesses and “brokenness” as permanent. Again, we come up short.
Furthermore, judgment is born out of arrogance and propels us even further away from the worldview of vitalism. Judgment sees only the blaring differences between people and uses arrogance to lift us up, so we can look down on others. Yet still, we come up short, because at the root of our belief is scarcity. The belief that we will never measure up and never be able to become what we want to be. Still think you are living a vitalistic life? Do you really believe we are all connected through a life force and each possesses our own unique potentials to become whoever we want? If we really want to call ourselves vitalistic, this view of the world must change.
We are facilitators of healing. Believers in the miraculous abilities of the body and intelligence that lies within it. We see vitalism in everyone around us. We see the amazing potential they possess. But we fail when it comes to seeing it in ourselves. If we believe that the physical aspect of our being is incredibly intelligent and can change and heal as long as there is no interference. Couldn’t this be true of our souls too? If we remove the interference of our own limiting beliefs, wouldn’t our souls have the ability to change, heal and grow with unlimited potential? Vitalism isn’t just about our physical body, it isn’t just about the life force we have in us, and it isn’t just about recognizing how everyone is connected. It is a way of life, a belief that reaches from our hearts to our souls.
This article first appeared in the December 2019 issue of Lifelines, the Life West student magazine.