In the first installment of this series of blogs, which you can read here, I exposed the fear of never getting better as the true reason my clients slack on their assignments and can’t seem to find time to make the changes they say they want so badly.
The fear behind reason #2 is a biggie and is one that nearly kept a former client of mine stuck in pain permanently.
Reason #2 I’ve tried everything and nothing works for me.
This is one of the most deceptive reasons out there because it’s true until it’s not.
Almost all of my clients can say that they felt hopeless and out of options at one point or another on the recovery journey.
But the difference between the people I see who get out of pain and those who don’t is often a matter of persistence. The people who get out of pain don’t find solutions faster than others…. they just don’t label their lack of early success as a personal failure.
For example, back in 2008, a woman named Alice (who would later become a client of mine) almost fell into the “failure trap”.
She developed a complicated shoulder problem that caused her daily pain and robbed her of the ability to do the things she enjoyed the most, including painting and playing tennis with her daughter.
Over a period of several months, she saw 3 different physicians as well as a physical therapist and chiropractor, all of whom offered increasingly vague and far reaching explanations for her symptoms.
None of these explanations resonated with her or seemed to fit her situation.
She told me later that she felt both angry and despondent, thinking “We are the most medically advanced system in the world, and you are telling me you can’t figure out what’s wrong? Why me?”
The frustration got so great that Alice quit trying to find a solution.
At the time, she thought she was quitting because she was out of options, but upon further reflection she realized she was quitting because she was tired of failing.
She had labelled herself (and her body) a failure after the providers she saw couldn’t offer her a solution.
Given her experiences, Alice felt like it would be foolish to hold on to hope….she had a clear pattern of failure and she would just need to get used to living in pain.
I know a number of my clients have felt this way — that continuing to try to find a solution would seem to fit Einstein’s definition of insanity, which is to continue doing the same thing and expect different results.
And yet, what is actually insane is to stop trying and hope that your symptoms just go away.
Alice was about 4 ½ years into her strategy of “I-hope-this-just-goes-away-on-it’s-own-or-maybe-I-can-keep-ignoring-it” when a chance encounter with an old acquaintance named Kathy in 2013 helped her get back on the path to finding a solution.
Kathy told Alice she had recovered from a bad shoulder problem in the past, and recommended a new specialist. This specialist looked at her MRIs again and suggested surgery.
It was after this surgery that I first met Alice, and we worked together until she was able to get back to doing the things she loved.
In order to achieve recovery, Alice had to let go of the label of “failure” she had applied to her previous efforts to get better, and ask herself instead “What’s next?”
There 3 questions I use to help my clients overcome the doubts that arise from the fear of failure.
Here they are:
1. “How is this different than what I have tried in the past?”
The provider should be able to explain in clear, simple terms how they can improve your condition, and how their method is different from things that didn’t work in the past.
When Alice went to see the doctor who “fixed” her, he explained why her condition often was misdiagnosed, and was able to explain from a scientific perspective why the previous treatments she pursued didn’t help.
2. Have you seen this before in someone like me and did they get good results?
The provider should be able to tell you the story of someone who has had a similar condition to yours, and a general timeline for improvement. I can’t emphasize how much this matters!
Best case scenario, the provider will have names of people you can contact directly to inquire more about their experience. Getting a direct testimonial from her friend gave Alice the boost she needed to take a risk and try again.
3. Do I trust this person (the provider) beyond just hoping they are right?
When you think about working with this person, do you feel at ease or tense? If you feel at ease, that is a sign that your body feels safe with the provider.
If you feel tense, you may either have some unresolved questions that need to be answered before you can make a decision, or that tension may be related to some underlying doubt.
Respect the doubt! When you have lingering doubts about the provider, you will not be able to trust them. Trust is required for you to get the most benefit from the healing process.
A fear of failure is often what keeps us stuck in pain and believing that “nothing works for me”. The questions above can help you let go of the label of failure and reconnect you with your intuition from a place of openness rather than fear.
PS- My new coaching studio is now officially open in Falls Church, VA! Click here to check out the new space.
PPS- if you have a chronic injury and are ready to try something new to get out of pain, call me at 571-303-0734 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free 30 minute strategy session. What do you have to lose??