A funny thing happened this week. After my most recent bout with intermittent recurring back pain (on and off for the better part of the past 25 years) I finally decided to go for a physiotherapy appointment. I’m really not sure why I hadn’t gone before; ignorance, procrastination, stubbornness... pick anything really. My wife picked stubbornness. My chronic back struggles had become a part of how I defined myself and I guess I just accepted that my back pain was inevitable.
Back trouble for me can be traced back to my days as a curler. I competed at a very high level and despite what you might think about the athletic ability involved in the game, it took a toll. Back issues just became part of the landscape for me and I dealt with it many different ways over the years. It took my youngest daughter Clara’s rehabilitation from a serious knee injury and my oldest daughter Maria’s OCD therapy success to open my eyes to looking at my pain in a new way and taking the necessary steps to address it.
Half way through my first appointment, the physiotherapist paused and asked me a question. “Did you realize how crooked you are?” I looked in the mirror and was stunned. It was something my wife Jill had repeatedly pointed out to me but up until this week I hadn’t really taken an honest look for myself and acknowledged what she was saying.
...the physiotherapist paused and asked me a question. “Did you realize how crooked you are?”
Apparently through the years when the pain flared my default was to walk like a pretzel to avoid the pain. This I soon learned was exacerbating the problem (as so often happens when we try to skirt around a situation instead of addressing it.) So, step one in my therapy journey was to place my awareness on being crooked and slowly but intentionally correct it.
That simple realization struck me as the funny part. How many times in our lives do we tell ourselves that things are the way they are and not much can ever be done to change it? How often do we pause and take an honest look in the mirror to see the true nature of the problem? Have we ever asked others for help? And most importantly have we had the courage and compassion to look at the issue through a different lens and take those courageous steps towards change?
When we begin to honestly evaluate the stories we live with every day, we soon realize they don’t hold as much water as we once thought. Many of our truths and opinions simply change over time and ideas that were once considered sacred turn out to be rather twisted. So too with unhelpful stories.
The trick with such radical transformation is to approach it with a measure of compassion and a good dose of courage. It can be very difficult to admit that you have not been totally honest with yourself and that has caused you or someone you love to suffer. Learning to accept life’s difficult truths is an important step on the journey of personal growth. Being kind to yourself in the process is critical. Remember that most of us are doing our best with the information we have available to us at any given time. Yet that said, exploring a more open and flexible approach to our own difficulties can lead us to new and more positive solutions to life’s inevitable problems.
It can be very difficult to admit that you have not been totally honest with yourself and that has caused you or someone you love to suffer.
So, if there is a particular problem or issue which has been plaguing you for a while, step back and look at it from a completely new angle. Ask for advice from people you trust and more importantly, listen. Let someone else shine a light on the problem and listen to opposing viewpoints. And most importantly, listen to yourself. When we quiet our minds and tune into ourselves, we might be surprised how close at hand a solution may be.