Monday, July 2, 2012

The things that hold us back

In therapy, we often talk about childhood injuries, and often we mean emotional injustices or slights. But I remember one time that a client told me a story about a physical childhood injury. The client was a vibrant woman. She started about something unrelated, but went on a tangent and shared that she was a gymnast when she was a girl.

Once, while learning something new, she landed badly and injured herself. She told me that as soon as she felt the injury, she knew that she was finished with gymnastics. She did not quit practicing or competing directly, but she never learned a new move again. The injury held her back, kept her in the familiar, and prevented her from growing in the sport. Eventually, she grew bored and quit.

In what ways do we hold ourselves back due to injuries? In what ways to we still carry around the belief that we will hurt ourselves if we strive?

This client had a second lesson to learn—that she could hurt herself and still heal from the injury. She took a risk and injured herself. But she did not leave the sport, which means she healed from that injury. What might have been different for her if she had learned instead that she can take risks, fail, and still recover and go on?

How do we view our failures? Are they crippling, or do we recognize that the very fact that we have failures in our lives means that we have survived them? That every failure is evidence that we are built to strive, to achieve, and to cope with struggle?

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