I recently wrote a speech for my Toastmasters club, and in it, I described the lessons I learned from pain, feeling stuck and how its not always a bad thing. Below is an excerpt from what I wrote:
“AH AH AH CHOO! Oh no! I think I’m stuck. But all I did was sneeze?!”
There I was, 18 years old, hunched forward in pain, and literally stuck. I had no idea what happened. I tried to ignore it, hoping it was just a passing hiccup, but trying to ignore pain works as well as trying to bathe a cat.
I found myself a massage therapist who worked his magic on my back, getting me from 90 degrees of forward flexion to an almost upright position. Not exactly ideal, but it was a drastic improvement from where I started. I eventually ended up in my doctors office, and diagnosed with a herniated disc.
It took months to get better, and during that time, I became increasingly more frustrated. One week I was fine, the next, I was stuck.
Try to imagine if you will, a single 18 year old girl, attempting to look sexy at club – only now, add in sweatpants and a cane. Not exactly the best way to find a boyfriend. Yes, my social life was starting to suffer,and there was nothing that I could do about it.
I couldn’t go out. I didn’t want to stay in. It hurt to sit. But it also hurt to stand. I got really good at identifying people by their shoes.
Ermahgerd! It was in front of me all along. If only I could have seen in front of me!
I was literally and figuratively STUCK!
They say the body mirrors what is going on inside our minds and coincidentally (or not), I was feeling stuck.
I had just graduated from ECE at Seneca college, a program that I loved thoroughly. I loved learning about the psychology of the human mind, how we learn and the developmental stages we go through from infancy through to adulthood. The arts and crafts weren’t bad either. There is an art to cutting and pasting!
I was ready and excited to get this new chapter started. I started sending out resumes to a few choice schools. My very first interview was with a Montessori, and I was immediately hired. Me! A teacher! I couldn’t believe it.
And then it started.
The snotty noses, screaming kids, and countless amounts of spilled milk! Whoever said don’t cry over spilled milk obviously never worked in a daycare before.
I was not enjoying this. Not one little but. It wasn’t at all what I imagined. I began to reassess, and I toggled between not wanting to be a quitter vs coming home exhausted, sore and sick.
I was stuck, in one of the biggest dilemmas I had ever faced. Ok, maybe not the biggest but it was big enough to keel me over in pain from a simple sneeze.
The days and nights I spent thinking, analyzing, over analyzing and stressing out over this, had created this huge monkey on my back. And it was weighing me down.
So, I quit.
I didn’t think twice about it. As soon as I got clear on what was happening, it was an easy decision to make. I was not where I wanted to be and my back was telling me so. I am so happy I listened, because a whole new world of opportunities opened up for me after that.
There was so much learning in that experience for me. There were 3 main lessons that my back pain taught me.
- When you’re not happy with what direction you are going, you have full control to change it.
- When your body tries to telling you something, it’s best to pay attention. It’s giving you a clue to what is going on in your mind and heart. And, Ignoring it will only cause it to amplify its message for you.
- You are not stuck. Despite what you might feel, you are not stuck anywhere. Your life is yours to create. The sky is not the limit, your belief system is.
As for my back pain, unfortunately my herniated disc became a chronic issue and one that I continue to deal with, 22 years later. As much as I hate that I having chronic back pain, I have learned to be grateful for it. It is my guide in a sense. It keeps me connected to myself, my purpose and my true desires.
When I’m overtired and not taking care of myself, it screams at me to stop. And when I’m anxious or stressed about something, it is the first thing to wake me up so I can change direction.
Feeling stuck is a feeling not a fact. Use it as an indication that something needs to change, and know that when that feeling occurs, there is usually something really big waiting for you on the other side.