Happy New Year!
I know the title of this post is a bit ambiguous, but let me explain…
I’m injured 😢 I didn’t ‘do’ anything in particular, it was a build up of ignoring little signs that everything was not right with my body until my body finally said – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Consequently, I’ve been seeing a physiotherapist. He’s a really nice young man who’s probably the same age as my eldest son (so about 24-25) and he’s been great with helping me get back on my feet – quite literally.
Curiously, though, he said something to me the other day that struck me as odd and got me thinking about this whole topic. You see, I am a middle-aged woman who is carrying more weight than she should and pushes her body a little bit more than she should considering her age and weight. Age, not taking care of myself and just general life has put a strain on my body and I suffer from aches and pains. Aches and pains that I have come to except as normal. When I mentioned my various aches and pains to my physiotherapist he looked at me quite earnestly and said, “Why?”
Of course my response was, “Why what?”
To which he responded, “Why are you in pain?”
“Because I am old,” was my immediate response. A response that he didn’t agree with. You see, this young man couldn’t understand why I would simply accept the pain I was in as if it were normal. To him, pain has to have a reason. Pain is your body telling you something isn’t right. Pain is a symptom of something else.
Me, being me, had a bit of a revelation from this conversation. Here I was thinking that the amount of pain I deal with on a daily basis is just me getting old. It’s normal. Everyone puts up with pain. Everyone aches. But according to my physio, that is not necessarily the case.
To take this example further, I began to wonder what else in my life I took to be normal that wasn’t. What else was I ‘putting up with’ because I just thought that is how life is supposed to be? Which had me questioning a whole lot of stuff in my life and had me asking the question, “what if it isn’t meant to be this way?”
It’s a new year and I had made my mind up that this year I was going to do some major renovations on my internal thinking. Even before I had this conversation with my physio, I was thinking about the woman inside. I was thinking about the way I treat her, the things I tell her and the thoughts that I allow to torment her.
I had committed myself to renewing my thinking and treating myself with more respect. I want to be confident. I want to be secure in the knowledge of who I am as a person. I want to like myself. I can’t do any of these things without changing the way I speak about myself to myself.
One of the hardest things I have believing is my own value. My psychologist has posed this question to me a few times – “What if you just stopped doubting yourself and started believing in yourself?” And do you know what my answer is? “What if I do that and it turns out that it’s not true? What if I start believing in myself and then discover that there was nothing there worth believing in?” To which she says, “What if there is?”
My ‘normal’ is thinking that I have little value. It doesn’t matter how I came to have this core belief, the real problem is that I continue to perpetuate it. The things I tell myself, the way I rehash conversations in my mind, the way I walk away from a situation and tell myself that I handled it all wrong. It’s true that we are all our harshest critics, but what if we were just a little kinder to ourselves? What if those things we tell ourselves aren’t true?
Which brings me back to the conversation with my physio. Thinking of myself as having little value was normal to me. It’s something I have lived with and believed for most of my life – correction – for all of my life that I can remember. But what if what I have thought all along is not correct? What if I am putting up with pain that I don’t need to?
We are not born into the world believing that we are of no value. This is a learned behaviour and it manifests in different ways, but ultimately it is wrong thinking. Just as my physio questions me as to why I am accepting pain as the ‘norm,’ I am questioning why I just accept such a poor view of myself.
A friend of mine chooses a word at the beginning of each year that she is going to apply to her life. I decided that I needed to do that this year, except that I chose two:
Eunoia – this is the shortest word in the English language that contains all five vowel sounds (just a bit of trivia for you) and it means ‘a well mind’ and ‘beautiful thinking.’
Querencia – this is a Spanish word and it means a place where one feels safe, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, a place where one feels at home, the place where you are your most authentic self.
These two words capture exactly what I want for myself this year. I want my thoughts to be beautiful and I want to find my authentic self. And that means questioning those things that I have always just accepted as ‘normal.’ It is about taking control of my thoughts and emotions and turning them to something beautiful and honouring. It is about respecting myself and valuing myself.
What is it that you are just accepting as normal that may not be what you think?