Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Learn how to rest; you already know how to push through

A friend of mine's daughter was recently diagnosed with possible stress fractures in her ankle. She's still in grade school, and is a competitive dancer, taking first place in a recent contest. She's a determined girl who LOVES to dance, but it looks like she's going to have to take a couple of weeks off so she can heal up. It's heartbreaking, because she wants to do what she loves, but what she loves doing is aggravating an injury. In this instance, resting is the best possible thing for her to do, because it will give her time to heal... but in a way, the resting hurts more than continuing to injure herself. 

There are times when we want to "push through the pain," whether it is physical or emotional, because we want to keep doing what we love. The thought is, if we keep moving, we won't have time to hurt, but conversely, we also won't have time to heal

As my metals teacher used to say, "tempering metal makes it stronger." But she also used to warn that while the process of tempering makes the steel harder, it also makes it more brittle, and prone to breaking.The same is true if you over-work the metal with a hammer... it is harder, yes, but more brittle. Instead, you must anneal the metal, slowly heat it to a red hot state, and then work the metal so that you are working with the structure, aligning the crystals of the metal slowly and carefully. When you anneal metal, the metal is not quenched in water after the heating, it is instead hammered while hot, and then allowed to cool naturally. This keeps the metal strong, but not brittle.

Taking time for oneself, particularly to heal after injury, is often a luxury few can afford these days. We must go to work, go to school, continue on with our bisy backson* lives instead of taking time to make sure we are (in fact) ok. I've done this for years with my knee -- I know that there is a problem with my knee, but if I go to the doctor and put a name to it, I could be prevented from doing the activities that I love--that help keep me even-keeled.  So I put on a brace, take an anti-inflammatory, and hope for the best. Because I don't have TIME for that.

I've also done this with inter-personal relationships (past, present, and likely in the future). Shifting blame, making excuses, because if I take the time to diagnose the problem, I can only come to one logical conclusion--and I don't want to face what's really wrong, or the possibility what is broken cannot be fixed. It's easier to make excuses for a friend or loved one than it is to acknowledge that some time off is necessary for both people to gain perspective and do some healing. 

In our society we are told if there is "no pain," there is "no gain." That may be true. But continued pain—continued tempering—with no time to heal will only make one brittle and subject to breaking. It's a good philosophy for forging a sword... and for keeping one healthy.

Which is all to say....

I'm taking some time off to do some healing--about a month--to see where I am both physically and mentally after resting. Perhaps I will be able to resume what I was doing. Perhaps that will no longer be possible. I won't know until I come out the other side and take a good look at where I am, and where I want to be. 

If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend that you do the same. Maybe not on the same scale, but maybe you can set a night aside for just you--do some reading, binge watch some awful TV, go get a mani-pedi, go to the gym, whatever helps you relax, and reconnect with YOU. In the end, you're the only person you can really truly rely on. You want to make sure you're in good shape.

* I cannot stress enough the beauty and wisdom that is the Tao of Pooh and Te of Piglet. I read both books annually, and have made my kids read them too. Even if you are not into "Eastern Religion," it's a good reminder of just how messed up our Western world looks to those on the outside. Take a look, I don't think you'll be disappointed.