I am dealing with a lot of physical pain from injuries right now. Between an injury to my knee and a couple of broken ribs it kind of sucks. Advil is the answer at the moment. While it’s a pharmaceutical tool I may take after I train or race, I know the dangers of using it to mask pain before I train. It basically leaves me training ‘blind’. What I mean by that is that if I suppress my pain, then I won’t know when I am doing too much or doing something improperly.
The truth is the pain has something to tell me. The question is whether or not I want to hear what it has to say. Most of the time the answer is no, I don’t want to know that I am hurt and that I may need to take time off to recover. But I might have to switch what I’m doing to the gym, or worse, for the dreaded…time off to recover.
It’s not as simple as that, however. While I don’t want to hear from my physical pain, there’s the emotional pain that comes along with it. That’s the worst! The stories I tell myself of how I’ve injured myself…the self-blame. The fear of not recovering fully and getting back to what I love. The extra energy it takes to figure out other ways to train, if that’s even possible.
But that’s the problem with Advil, if I mask my physical pain, then I don’t have a problem, right? I wish that were true.
The question isn’t how do we just stop everything we are doing and be OK with it, or numbing ourselves and running into longer-term or more difficult problems. No, the question is how do we have these experiences, these setbacks, and honor ourselves–our physical and emotional health, while we are experiencing them.
Here are some ways we can listen to our emotions, respect our recovery, and continue to progress towards our goals in ways that empower us:
Focus on what you can do. If you are a runner like myself, you probably don’t want to take any time off. But, if you’re honest with yourself, you can focus on staying fit through your recovery by doing other activities you’re physically able to do. Consider other exercises or activities that you can do to stay in the best shape possible, so that when you’re recovered from your injury you don’t have to start back at your running lacking fitness. This can be applied to almost any physical or mental setback. Have you lost a job, a client, or a business? What skills can you sharpen or build? This way, when you find your next opportunity, you’re ready! Have you lost a loved one or had a sudden change in your life you weren’t prepared for? What can you do to take care of your emotional well-being? Find a therapist, meditate, talk to a trusted friend, or take time to rest, walk in the woods, and just breathe, so you can move through the intense emotions you are feeling.
Which leads me to the next question you can ask yourself: what else would be new and exciting to try? I’m kind of fortunate in this area because for many years I did triathlons, so I love to bike and swim. But I’m also finding that I like hiking, and find it can be quite challenging depending on where I go. This could be a real exploratory time if you allow it! Build your curiosity and excitement around new endeavors that you can do while you’re waiting to get back to your favorite thing or move through your setback.
I am heading to the gym right now to spend some time on the elliptical. I can tell you that it’s not my favorite thing to do, but I am very happy with the way it’s keeping me in shape. And once these ribs heal up, I’m excited to get back to swimming. Who knows? Maybe being competitive in open water swimming is what’s next for me…along with running. 🙂
If you would like to learn tools and skills to help you improve your emotional aptitude, reduce your emotional isolation, lessen your avoidance of shame, fear, and anxiety, and enable yourself to reach your goals, break old habits, or create new ones, I can help. I provide emotional resilience coaching, so you can achieve your goals. We can meet either virtually or in person at my office in Waterbury, Vermont. Just click the button or the link below for a free consultation and let’s talk.
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