This morning, I woke up and BAM! – my hip and I were no longer on speaking terms.  I couldn’t find a “comfortable seat” – standing didn’t work for me like it usually does (I’ve had back and hip pain for a long time, this isn’t new – but THIS feeling in THIS location THIS strong was different).  Sitting and I have never gotten along well and I had a lot to do so laying down wasn’t really an option.

Oh no, NOT AGAIN!! Not now – I don’t have time for this.  After a while of thinking this way and realizing it wasn’t really helping the situation,

I asked myself:  What has worked in the past? I quickly recalled the many tools I’ve learned to get through stuff like this and started using them.

I did some stretching, I used my Elaine Petronne balls to help me release the pain, I took Advil – and soon I was feeling better.  It wasn’t gone but it was much more manageable.

So, I asked myself:  What do I know now that I didn’t know before? This technique of pausing after something  like this happens and asking myself what I’ve learned from it is really helpful to me.  Why?  Because the next time something happens, I have more knowledge about how to deal with it.

Here’s a couple things I’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to you when something happens that you weren’t expecting:

  • Whine, complain and grouse about it:  I’m not one for kidding myself when something is hard for me.  I acknowledge it – this doesn’t work for everyone but it works for me.  I don’t like sugar coating things and making what’s inherently hard for me easier by lying to myself and saying “this doesn’t hurt, buck up!”
  • Get it out of your system:  Everyone has a different way of doing this – writing about it, crying, talking to yourself, laying on the couch with a book or watching a movie,  exercise (if it’s not disabling physical pain) or stretching are just a couple ways to deal with this.
  • Take the first step:  Here’s what that looked like for me.  I’m a big fan of talking to those parts of myself that aren’t getting along: “Char, honey, I get that this is really painful.  Ooooouch!!!  It’s $#%#%@@ killing me right now – it’s that painful.  And it completely sucks that RIGHT THIS MINUTE this is happening !!!  #(%(@P)@ (liberal swearing totally permissable here!)
  • Give yourself some time here:  Talking to yourself may look more like a conversation than simply a one or two liner.  For example, there may be parts of yourself that are annoyed, angry, resentful, etc that need some space to “air out” – take whatever time feels appropriate.
  • Don’t be impressed by your story:  You may have a lot of editorial comments about yourself here.  Judgments like “I shouldn’t have done that yesterday.  You’re so stupid.  You’re being lazy”, are real feelings and you can hear them without believing that they are true or getting defensive.  Just let them be – I know, easier said than done here.
  • Ask yourself what has helped in the past:  Just by putting that question out there and PAUSING for a moment to see what comes up may be helpful.  The important part here is to ask the question and be willing to wait to see what comes up. . . . have patience with this.  It’s a process
  • Start anywhere:  Try something – it doesn’t matter what you do first.  And don’t force the process.  At some point, your mood will shift and you’ll be ready to do something differrent.
  • Pause and see what you’ve learned:  Once you try something, stop for a moment and reflect.  See how it affected you.  How do you feel now?  Did it help this time?  Did it make it worse?  What did you learn?  This only takes a couple seconds to allow it to register but it’s useful in the future.
  • What do you know now:  If this worked, great.  Noticing what works reinforces it in your head so you can think of it should you need it again.  If you learned this wasn’t what you needed this time, try something else.  Repeat the process as many times as you need to.

I can’t promise you’ll get out of pain if you do this. What I can tell you though is you’ll gain greater self awareness about what is helpful when you’re in a situation you weren’t expecting.

An interesting way to deal with this is to make a note of it in a journal so you have it to refer to later if you want.  You could also make a folder on your computer called “Things that Work for Me” – and just make a note about what happened and what helped.

I keep a folder like this on my computer.  It’s entitled “The Book of You”.  In this folder, I have a file called “Back and Hip Pain” with a list of strategies that work for me when I have it. It’s not a big deal doing something like this and I find it helpful particularly when I have so much pain that I can’t think straight.  This has happened enough times that I now know to go to it first when I can’t figure out what to do to feel better.

Has this ever happened to you?  What do you do to help when you don’t feel good?  Let’s learn and support each other by sharing our strategies.

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