When the Problem is the Solution

In early December my life took a left turn when I fell broke my wrist. Abruptly and unexpectedly, all energy I expended on anything other than stopping the pain came to a screeching halt. Throughout those last weeks of 2015 I was under the protection of a percoset coccoon, masked from feeling and doing much of anything. 

On the surface, I was functioning. I went to work, attending to what needed attention in the day to day.  People remarked. They were impressed by "how I did it". It was the holiday season, I partook in family gatherings. It all seemed very "go with the flow", even to me. I said to myself "well, this is what's happening now."  I said this to myself quite a bit. But on a deeper level I wasn't actually believing it.

Gradually, I weened off the pain killers, still tolerating aches and pains but continuing on. Through January the busyness of life didn't slow down for me. I bumbled along, now with the task of hand therapy two times a day to stay one step ahead of the stiffness and in an effort to regain its movement. It began to feel hard.

I began to feel a familiar restlessness. I wanted this hand thing to end already! I wanted to reconnect with the momentum and enthusiasm I felt for coaching and with tending to the exciting ideas for 2016 that sprouted just a few weeks prio.  I felt slowed down and depressed. I began to feel stuck.

I began to recognize these feelings as familiar patterns from childhood and throughout my younger life. Having felt stuck and depressed before, I made those feelings mean some things.

I began to believe:

  • "It's not ok to feel sad."
  • "I'm never going to be able to surface from this."
  • "I'm not cut out for what this takes."
  • "I'm not as good as ________________."

One thought led to another, until it all began to mean that I was a failure. This pattern is habitual. Deeply-rooted. I didn't notice its inner workings until someone pointed it out to me by asking the simple question:

What are you making it mean?

I began to notice the pattern more clearly. To avoid feeling sadness or stuckness, I noticed my automatic, self-protective mechanism of DOING SOMETHING. I began to see how in this wrist-break situation the sadness and pain of the injury triggered the deeper body/mind pattern in me:

Feeling sad and pain is not ok. MUST DO something/anything to avoid feeling sadness and pain. Must not fail!

I believed - unconsciously - that it wasn't ok to feel the way that I was feeling. I believed that my loss of momentum - recognized by how I was feeling - meant failure. I believed that loss of motivation meant resignation.  I realized that I was afraid, not just of the feelings, but of getting stuck in that familiar pattern.

Recognizing this helped immediately to halt the thought-feeling-behavior cycle.  Poof. Just like that.

Then I had to chuckle because I actually teach people this for a living. I know this, but oh how easy it is to forget. Of course it's ok to feel the way that I'm feeling! Of course it is.

And of course, losing momentum for other things is actually exactly what is needed right now. Of course it is.
What I had been viewing as the problem, is actually the solution.

Right now, I'm going to honor my need for self-care. Right now, I am going to do my hand therapy, and work to regain its mobility. Right now, my lack of momentum allows me to focus on what's most important. The problem is actually the solution.