Another Perspective on Injuries
There are many articles out there on how to “cope” with injury. They make great points about the value of reaching out for help, doing the things you can do- like walking instead of running, focusing on improving other areas of your fitness, eating well, and sleeping regularly at least 8 hours a night. These are all tried and true tips, and a good beginning.
But here’s the thing.
The biggest challenge to being injured is the fact that you can no longer DO- you have to just BE! Many athletes (and the vast majority of the rest of the world) have been trained to rely solely on their bodies and utilize them to maximum strength. Our culture highly values accomplishment and “getting things done”. Years of this approach can often result in your identity being totally tied up with what you can do, accomplish, or reach for in terms of goals. All seems good. Until you are suddenly faced with an injury or illness that places you in the challenging place of having to still feel valuable and worthwhile even when you cannot perform. I have worked with many athletes in this position, and depression can often set in. Feelings of not being strong any more, being vulnerable, not feeling quite as independent are also factors. Unskilled coaches can add fuel to the fire with myths about lack of mental toughness being an issue! (Ugh. Another topic for a future blog.)
Performing musicians are another group who struggle with injuries. They go through a similar process of having to reduce participation in competitions and to remain hopeful and confident about recovering. To both groups, I always inform them about the grieving process, that it’s normal and healthy, and that it is incredibly validating to talk with others who have been through this. Finding/making a list of what you can do is good, but the more in-depth and long- term value comes when you are forced to see yourself as a whole person who can take ownership of your intrinsic value even when you can do very little. This is where working with a skilled and experienced mental performance coach can be literally life-changing. The kind of process you go through can alter not only the way you choose to deal with your injury, but your overall life as well.
I see injuries as your body’s way of offering you temporary respite, and an opportunity for tremendous personal growth. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences….
B. Mus (Performance) M.Ed Psych, Accredited CO-Active Coach