So here I am, still in my mid-fifties and experiencing episodes of severe lower back pain and a pain in my left knee both of which are making my life anything from uncomfortable to miserable.
My GP has little comfort to offer other than to learn to live with it and take painkillers when necessary. Sadly, they have only limited success.
As I’m telling a friend about it she makes a suggestion which strikes me as absolutely bizarre.
“Ask your pain why it’s there”, she suggests. “What is it trying to tell you? See if you can associate it with a particular emotion.”
As you would expect, I pooh-pooh the idea and put it out of my head.
Fast forward a week and the pain is still there and getting worse. I’m feeling thoroughly fed up so I’m thinking, “What the hell! What have I got to lose?”
I’m on my way to the station and I think, “this is a good time – there’s nobody around to look at me like I’m crazy, talking to myself.”
So I go, “Pain, why are you here? What are you trying to tell me?”
Unexpectedly, a word springs into my mind – ‘impotence’.
“What nonsense!”, I exclaim loudly, “That means absolutely nothing!” I try again and this time another word comes to me – ‘hopelessness’.
Neither of these two words make any sense to me so I put the whole thing out of my mind – or, at least, I try to but I can’t let it go.
In the end, I ask Alan, my life coach. His reply shocks me to the core.
“You’ve been in hopelessness and impotence ever since I met you”, he says. “When you’re in ‘impotence’ you believe there’s nothing you can do about whatever the situation happens to be at the time, and ‘hopelessness’ is your belief that it will be like this forever.”
As shocked as I am to hear him say that I can’t help but recognise it as absolutely true. This is what I’ve always believed in every single challenging situation, in every area of my life, not just my health.
While I’m not ready to look at the rest of my life I am willing to look at the various pains I’m experiencing, especially since they’re really affecting the quality of my life as a whole. It’s not just the pain but also the constant exhaustion.
So I begin by looking at my daily routines and this is what I notice:
- In an attempt to numb my general feelings of sadness and, yes, hopelessness, I’ve been eating a lot of sweet things – my favourites are croissants and pain au chocolat. I like to have a break and treat myself at a Starbucks. As pleasant as it feels at the time, the pleasant feelings don’t last and my regular treats do nothing for my weight which is steadily creeping up.
- My job at the Institute of Directors is very stressful so, when I get home, I like to have a drink to help me relax but, the more stressed I feel, the more I drink.
- I unexpectedly notice that I don’t allow anybody to support me – not physically, not emotionally – not because I don’t need or want it because I never ask for help.
Actually, even that is not strictly speaking true because, although I don’t ask for help, there are people around me that have offered their support more than once and I always say the same, “Thanks, that’s really kind of you but I can manage.”
It’s not that I’m perverse; I’m terrified that, if I ask for or accept help, they will think I’m needy and a burden which will put them off me, and my life will be lonely and empty.
The fact that my life’s already lonely and empty makes no difference to my belief.
Since my conversation with Alan and in my efforts to take responsibility for my health and wellbeing I’m learning new ways to deal with my conditions.
- I begin to listen to my body. When the pain becomes particularly intense I now stop pretending I’m a hero. I surrender. I take time off and this makes a huge difference.
- I learn to ask for help – not as often as I should but it’s a start. I discover people love to help! Who’d have guessed.
- I stop those croissants and pain au chocolat. That really hurts! I slowly lose some weight and that not only makes me feel better about myself; it also makes a difference to the intensity of my pain. It seems like the weight was putting extra pressure on my body!
- I stop drinking when I’m stressed – cold turkey. It’s the only way for me.
- I learn other ways to manage my stress. There’s a lovely little green near where I live – why have I never gone there for a walk or just sit on a bench and gaze at the trees? I start doing so now and I’m surprised how good I feel.
- I go to my GP about the intense pain in my knee and she suggests crutches while I wait to be referred to the hospital for tests. I hate having to use the crutches but I grudgingly admit they help.
The tests show nothing untoward so, again, my GP suggests painkillers. However, as it turns out, losing weight and resting my leg makes a huge difference.
So I have a question for you:
What changes can you make to your lifestyle that could make a difference to your health and wellbeing?
And, if you’re anything like me, you may even find some unexpected but very welcome side-effects:
Your confidence and energy levels may very well shoot up.
So why not give it a try? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
With love and gratitude
P.S. I coach women over 50 who want to improve their confidence, feel happier and more fulfilled, and revitalise their relationships.
By the end of it, I promise you will have tips to get you started whether or not you choose to work with me.
P.P.S. My third book, ‘Open Your Heart: The 7 Secrets Of Strong And Loving Relationships’ is now on Amazon and getting 5* reviews!