As some of you might know I mangled my big toe about six weeks ago. I opened a door right over it so badly that it required eight stitches. I won’t share the actual event… too gruesome but I do want to share what I learnt from it. It is completely healed now although it looks funny.
After the first week of dealing with the pain and general discomfort I sat down and asked myself how and why it happened. How was I responsible for this accident? I was astounded by what I found.
The first thing that came to mind is that I move at break neck speed! On that day speed was completely unnecessary. I had just had a wonderful lunch with my girlfriend there was no need to rush, after all I was only going home so why did I rip the door open with such force?
Lesson 1: Slow down! I am not on fire!
The second thing I learnt was that I am not present. I am always thinking of the next thing, task that needs to be done. I move from one thing to the next to get things done in the least possible time. By not being present I miss much of the journey.
Lesson 2: Be present! I don’t have to be finished with a task before I have even started. I need to enjoy the journey.
Self-care takes time is the third thing I learnt. It can’t be hurried. Every day I had to clean, wrap and care for my toe. It required patience and I knew that it would take weeks for it to heal and I wanted to ensure that it healed with absolutely no complications. I was very aware of the risk of infection so I made my own saline solution and cared for it with great tenderness.
Lesson 3: Be gentle! Berating myself would not serve my healing process, I had to be gentle with myself giving my body all the time it needed to heal.
The fourth understanding was that I do everything with a sense of urgency as if my life depended on it. My shoulders are tense; I hold my breath and my energy doesn't flow. I waste a lot of energy.
Lesson 4: Relax! Go with the flow and focus my energy in such a way that none of it is wasted.
Finally I learnt that to have true self-care you have to listen to your body. I know we all say it but do we really? I know I didn't. I am very aware of every thought now. I listen intently and I am starting to distinguish between the messages. Am I hungry, thirsty, tired, in pain or stressed?
Lesson 5: Listen! In order to have self-care you have to listen to your body.
And the bonus – I am a WORKAHOLIC! As I cared for my toe and started to listen to my body I started to hear the nonsense my brain spews out. I now notice how when I want to care for myself my brain tells me it is a waste of time.
Making myself something to eat will take me away from my work and is therefore a waste time, is but one of the lies I tell myself. It is clear that I don’t value my health if making myself something to eat is such a low priority. I am making a concerted effort to change this thought process. Awareness is half the battle, so now when I hear it I question my motives. Is it really a waste of time? The answer always is; “NO IT ISN'T!”
I am working with the root cause of this ridiculous idea. I believe it comes from my years as a consultant where I preferred to work through lunch because I wanted to get done, get as many hours as possible and go home. I remember getting upset with people when they wanted to take lunch – they were wasting my time… Can you believe it? I never said anything to them though, I just felt frustrated. Often I would not eat the whole day until I got home basically living on one cup of tea.
Lesson 6: Dream! It is not all about getting things done. Take time to eat healthy and well. Get enough sleep.
This is a work in progress… some days I win and some battles I lose but I am using all the tools in my kit to shift this and I will not give up!