“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before…”
If you hear a doctor say that, you really want it to be GOOD news.
Unfortunately, this was not the case.
After breaking my knee (inside the hospital), things were healing and moving along well. I kept in good spirits. I was taking care of myself physically and mentally.
I did an all day recording less than 2 weeks after surgery and didn’t turn down any work. I was doing more inner work related calls. COVID removed the possibility of gigs from my life, which gave space for extra rest, healing and focus.
The pandemic did create some complications, such as difficulties with seeing the doctor and getting physical therapy. However, once May rolled around, I could drive, and things were open enough for me to get started. All updates were moving in the right direction.
I was making rapid progress at PT, following the exercises diligently. It was painful, but everyone involved from the doctor to the therapist said this was a ‘no pain = no gain’ type of situation.
Range of motion was improving significantly. I was walking near normally, and getting stronger, working through the pain.
I was looking forward to a quick update with my doctor. Fortunately, a friend recommended I mention that there was some pain and swelling, as we were not even looking at an X-ray based on previous progress.
It was this visit where the doctor was confused and visibly concerned.
The separation on the front of my knee cap was further apart than it was a month ago. The small fracture line on the side had pulled apart in a visibly significant way.
This was where the doctor said he had not seen this before.
There is something called non-union of fractures, and it is a rare complication. The patella, or kneecap, is a rare place for it to happen.
Some of the common contributors for it are diabetes, smoking, and a few others. None of which even remotely applied to me. Perhaps I pushed too hard in therapy?
This was not the news anyone wanted to hear.
I was hoping I would be an exceptionally positive case of healing. The last thing on my mind was being a rare case in the wrong direction.
This Makes Me a Fraud
Obviously, there were a lot of emotions, projections, judgements and thoughts about this situation that were coming up.
There are many lessons gleaned from it to share, but I want to focus on one that was particularly bothersome.
Here I am teaching “body awareness” and other feeling based meditations for some years now.
I had been doing all sorts of inner work, EFT, and more related to myself and the injury.
I eat healthy, I was following the advice of experts and seemed to be doing everything right.
Yet here I am with this unwanted result, after things seemed to be going on track.
Those of you who know me, know I am no fan of the mixed messages that bombard this landscape of inner work and growth. “You can change your life, you can change your results!” Except when things are not working so well after working with a method- then the tune suddenly gets very philosophical, all about “surrendering and what is meant to happen happens.”
No philosophical reframe was helping me much – they rarely ever do.
How can I speak to any of you now about results?
How can I justify talking to anyone about this subject at all?
I was not perfect. I did not get a perfect or even a wanted result.
This completely invalidates me. The testimonials, the clients I do have, THOSE are now invalidated. This proves it.
This was a test, and I failed.
I have noticed that one of the harshest judgments I have towards others is when I sense they are a fraud, or if I find what I interpret as evidence of it.
That is always a strong sign that there is something there for us to work with.
Here I am being presented with what I could construe as evidence for being the thing I hate.
The moment something becomes personal, about us, it becomes harder, if not impossible to see it with any objectivity.
Notice how I already deemed this situation a failure. It was a done deal, the moment it stopped moving in the direction I wanted.
It was also all about me. Not in a broader sense of curiosity and exploration in my role, but it was more about my feelings and image of myself, that sense of ego-identity.
There were so many layers of meaning ascribed to what I had already interpreted as a failure.
It took a moment of processing and advice before I could even recognize it as a set back, and/or feedback that demonstrated a need for course correction.
Things were going the right way, new actions and variables were added, then they started going another way. Take in the information and adjust accordingly.
This is NOT just a philosophical reframe, it is the actual reality of many situations and certainly was with mine. What you are seeing take place in your ‘results’ or the world around you is a type of feedback.
Feedback is not inherently personal. You can get off the exit, turn around, and change course, without taking it to mean something about your validity as a human being.
You do not have to listen to the mind lamenting “if I had done everything right the first time, I wouldn’t have needed any feedback to make any adjustments!”
The reality is, we are constantly getting feedback, but the more personal the subject is for you, or the more immersed in our personal sense of self, meaning and judgement, the more that feedback takes on other meanings.
It was not easy to interpret this setback as anything other than a personal failure. Things not going in the direction I wanted them to not only represented a mistake, but invalidated me in the sense of having anything to offer.
Can any of you relate to this?
I need to be perfect in order to be valid, or have something to offer
If “perfect” is too extreme for you, look for variations such as “I’m not good enough yet, I don’t have my own results enough yet, to have something to offer others.”
This completely untrue paradigm can be alarmingly effective at shutting us down from moving forward on all sorts of goals, callings and desires. This can apply personally as much as professionally.
- Is there anything you are putting off because you are “not there yet?”
- If so, what are you using as your benchmark?
- Is it an accurate one?
- Is it really necessary to keep waiting and keep “improving” before you can take some more concrete steps?
- Is it possible this is a protective mechanism to keep you from going forward, disguised as some type of being responsible?
- Is it possible that moving forward is itself what is needed in order to further your growth? You can’t get better at working with people until you work with people, as one example.
You may get benefit from pondering those questions a bit, even writing down what comes up for you and taking some time to question your answers. They may be carefully crafted stories that have been developing over time.
Here are some other questions in a different direction I would like you to consider:
Have you ever gotten a piece of advice from someone that directly helped you?
Have you ever received a piece of information that you were able to apply in your own life and receive a direct benefit?
Have you ever heard a perspective that allowed you to look at a situation differently, giving you some greater clarity, relaxation or insight?
Surely you have.
Does it matter if the person who gave you any of the above has their own flaws and challenges? Does there need to be some idealized form of purity from every source, else their information, perspectives, approaches, are completely invalid?
You do not feel that way about what you have received. It is likely it never even crossed your mind. The same applies for you.
No one is expecting you to have all the answers or be perfect, in order to be able to offer something helpful to them.
You don’t have to be a multi millionaire in order to be able to offer useful perspectives, insight or approaches to help someone with money.
You don’t have to be a fitness model to speak about health.
You don’t have to be the elite expert in your field to provide service to others.
There is a HUGE difference between making absurd and unethical claims that you cannot deliver on.
I certainly make a conscious effort to avoid anything of the sort.
Perhaps if I claimed that inner work guaranteed miracle-healings with 100% positive updates, I’d have something to be concerned about, but I never would claim something remotely close to that.
People have helped me in profound ways that did not have personal experience in my particular field or issue. They themselves have their own challenges and areas where they are not “perfect.”
With a belief that my own validity depended on the concept of “perfection,” any setback was given an enormous amount of weight.
Discovering this was intense, and liberating.
Working with it, seeing the pattern clearly and processing many of the emotions around it, I found a greater sense of clarity, empathy, and practicality than I had before.
I was not looking for a philosophy to ease the pain, a sort of “everything happens for a reason” mental model that was not satisfying, not connected to a higher wisdom that is actually capable of seeing the perfection in a moment.
Nor was I stuck in an apathetic sense of “what can I do? I obviously suck,” and saw where that pattern had caused slowdowns and setbacks in many areas of life.
There was more of a simple, direct seeing of the situation without so much personal, emotional overheard blinding me from getting the feedback and making necessary adjustments.
Obviously, this is recent, deep, and has more to come.
Is this something you can relate to on any level?
If so, I highly recommend exploring it with your own inner work. you can bring up any further questions or specifics in the comments below, and/or we can work with them on one of my free calls.
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Great article. I love that you used your real life experience as the basis for exploring your deeper feelings. I certainly related to being a Fraud or not being good enough. Definitely my issue also. Keep us updated on your physical progress. Admire all that you do to help people.
Thanks so much Howard. I will definitely keep updated, and hope that you will be completely free from this issue!
Hi Evan Yes this does bring some thoughts. Chronic fatigue syndrome being an aspect of the body I have often heard from many within the community that I dont think it would be wise to be health or fitness coach unless you have healed yourself first. On one end there is a practicality side that people want you to be a role model by leading with example.Being in good health and hearing that you recovered or mostly recovered There are factors which I have no control over the rate of recovery but as you mentioned nobody decides the pace at… Read more »
Great blog…Best of luck with knee/my love, thoughts and prayers are with you for a resolution!
Thanks for your support, Anne!
What came up for me as I was reading this article: people who claim to have achieved “perfection” undervalue the things they need to work on, and overvalue their accomplishments, to the point of setting them as the benchmark of perfection for everyone else. Would it be logical to agree with a biased person’s definition of “perfection?” Some baggage I carried around since childhood was the idea that certain people have a monster inside of them. I used this belief to justify an “innocent victim” mentality…until the day I realized I had become the biggest monster of all. What I… Read more »
That’s quite a level of insight and self-reflection Johanna, well done! I appreciate your kind words. Perfectionism is a definite challenge of mine, and a lot of the facades that people present around this type of work really fed into that for me at different phases.
WoW. So sorry for your knee. This topic came incredibly “on time”. This is what I am also experiencing right now. It is really something I am already exploring and I would like to go deeper. “I was hoping I would be an exceptionally positive case of healing. The last thing on my mind was being a rare case in the wrong direction” and “It was not easy to interpret this setback as anything other than a personal failure. Things not going in the direction I wanted them to not only represented a mistake, but invalidated me in the sense… Read more »
I know from all the work you’ve been doing that you’ve gone deeper, for sure. Thanks for sharing!