Behavior change is hard…
Have you ever not followed through on a thing you said you were going to do? I recently didn’t follow through on some things I said I was going to do, things I knew would be good for me, things I knew I should do.
In fact, I didn’t do most of it. And I felt bad that I didn’t do it. I felt like I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. That I didn’t do these things, even though I believed they would be really good for me, really good for my pain, really good for my life.
But that’s how things work. That’s what happens in real life. This is a very common thing when it comes to changing pain or changing our health habits or changing any sort of behavior.
We’re told or guided or learn about something that we know is ‘good for us’, something we ‘should’ be doing, something we even really really think we want to do, but sometimes that specific something just doesn’t fit with our goals, needs, wants, priorities…with our life…at that point in time.
So we don’t do it. At least not all of it. We may do part of it or do something in line with the idea of it, but not do the whole thing. That’s what I did. I did parts. I didn’t do the two main things me and my physio had discussed, it doesn’t really matter what they were, but I did do some of the things we talked about, things that fit with my life, my wants, my goals RIGHT NOW.
And those things I did do made a HUGE difference. A monumental difference. A difference that allowed me to drive over 1000 miles by myself where before just the thought of being in a car for a long time would cause my pain to flare up.
A difference that allowed me to get back into the gym, something I haven’t done in close to 4 years, and play around with some movement, including movement under load.
Something I felt like I shouldn’t do for a long time. Something I felt I couldn’t do for a long time.
But even though I didn’t do what I was supposed to, I did learn from our exchange, I did make changes that made a profound difference in my pain and my life.
The reason I learned from our exchange, even though I didn’t do all I was supposed to do, was because my physio didn’t just tell me what to do, he guided me along a path and we decided together where that path should go.
So even when I took a detour, even though I didn’t go the route we planned, the way he had guided me and helped me to understand WHY that path was a good route to go helped me to find a route that worked for me right now. A path that fit in with my life, my goals, my desires, right now that is still going to get me to where I want to go.
And, most importantly, it is a path that I can navigate, with confidence, on my own.
How did we get me here? My physio friend had me provide my own contradictory evidence to some of those unfounded fears and beliefs which led me to a different way of thinking (I wrote about that, too, check it out here). Our discussion led me to a new understanding of my pain, my hip, and my capabilities, and it allowed me to put that new understanding into action.
It was the understanding that got me here, to this new, better place. Not the direction, not the assignment, not the “here’s what you should do”. I took that understanding and shaped it in the way that fits me.
I think this is incredibly important and I don’t know that we talk about it much, at least not very effectively.
There is often a disconnect or a distance between what a therapist wants a patient to do and what the patient wants to do. There’s often a disconnect between what the therapists goals are and what the patient’s goals are.
We need to talk about this stuff open and honestly.
It’s hard for me because I never want to let anyone down. I never want to seem difficult. I want to be a good patient. I want to follow the rules. And that disconnect, between what I feel like I should do or what I’ve been told to do and what I’m actually doing can cause a great deal of anxiety.
I’m probably not the only one, eh? There are probably other folks in the same boat.
So we need to talk about it without awkwardness or judgment or exasperation or frustration or embarrassment.
This is real life, these are real lives being lived, not idealized versions of those lives. Not the lives we *wish* we were living or really really hope to live.
It’s the actual life lived that matters.
That’s where we need to meet, that’s where we need to figure out the real deal path that can be realistically taken by the real person traveling it.
A crucial point I’m trying to make is that even though I didn’t do what me and my physio decided I should do, I did listen. I did learn. I did gain from it.
And my enthusiasm at the time of our discussions for doing all of those things I should do wasn’t fabricated, I was genuinely excited and on board. I really wanted to do it, I really thought that I would. And I still think I will at some point.
But that’s not where I am right now.