Back in 1994 I made a stupid decision. I allowed my (so called) friends to talk me into doing a back somersault off the bar at the Middle Head Junior Officers Ball in Sydney; which happened to be one of the Top 10 social events in Sydney at the time.
The result…I almost fractured both of my heels, was in awheel chair for a couple of days and then crutches for weeks, and uncomfortable walking for months. PLUS I missed out on the girl (at the Ball)!!
At thatpoint I decided to hang my hat up on the more complicated gymnastics flips. Hand stands were ok, but the other acrobatics were to be placed in mothballs.
So here is the question. Why then, 23 years later, do I decide that NOW would be a great time to bust out some round-off back somersaults in my mates back yard?
Why? Why? Why? Why?
What was the reason for such a grandly stupid decision!?!
Priceless Lesson #1: Solidifying a winning strategyI call myself an expert strategist. I am always trying to look for the positive angle on all experiences, and how to turn everything around to a winning move, with a high return on investment.
So as a result of this experience, and looking back over it, through the eyes of Sherlock Holmes, I discovered my winning strategy for dealing with the consequences of stupid decisions and how to turn them around. Here is the strategy I came up with:
- As soon as possible after making a bad decision with painful (physical or emotional or both) consequences, get clear on WHY you made the poor decision. Do it while it is fresh in your mind, not weeks or months down the track as your memories fade or become distorted. Look at it while the evidence is fresh (which I am sure Sherlock would agree with ;-)).
- Work on neutralizing any self abuse (for making a stupid decision) as soon as possible. This is important work. Own your humanness, and imperfections, and won the idea that you and everyone else on the planet makes stupid decisions on occasion. See it as something YOU DID as opposed to something YOU ARE. There is a HUGE difference between the two. And this FORGIVENESS may take time, but work on it, until you have neutralized any self-poisoning.
- Next it is time to ask a powerful question like, ‘What are the greatest lessons to take from this experience, in order for me to grow and evolve?’ (and not make a similar stupid decision in the future ;-)). Dig deep. And then go deeper. Come up with so many positive learning experiences, that it actually becomes a ‘positive’ event. This is called a ‘reframe’. And when you do this like a professional, you actually get to a stage where you actually give gratitude for the experience. That is when you know you have truly evolved…you are no longer in your life apprenticeship.
- Finally it is time to do the work. Accept the reality and then ask yourself another powerful question: ‘What now needs to be done?’ and then it is time to get creative.
This is a powerful strategy and sets you up with a very fertile environment for healing and growth.
Priceless Lesson #2: Understanding the WHY
Too often people make a mistake and want to hide from it, bury it, run from it, deny it, blame others for it, ignore it, or disown it; rather than using it as feedback for growth.
The other challenge is that our memories are imperfect. Apparently the brain records memories by taking mini snapshots, and then at a future stage just guessing what the missing bits might be (unless you are one of the select few who have a photographic memory). So we need to see what went wrong as soon as possible after the event.
So I started digging around within hours (coming from a clinical and non-emotive perspective) and this is what I found:
- I was at a festive celebration at my mates place, and I had way too many sweet treats. I was loaded up on sugar and hyperactive. Doh!!!! (When I went through the Military College my mates banned me from drinking red cordial because they knew I would go a bit crazy after a sugar fix ;-))
- My friends kid (about 10 years old) was doing some pretty impressive gymnastics, and I was itching to join in, since I used to do gymnastics when I was a kid.
- I started looking at the grass and it had a slight slope so I thought I could do some front flips which are pretty easy and low risk.
- I did some front flips, which increased my confidence, so then I decided I could do a round-off to see what height I could get. That went all right so I decided I could actually do a back-somersault. So I did one and landed 70% on my feet and about 30% on my hands. It was ok, but not great. AND THIS IS WHERE I LOST MY MIND AND CONTROL OF THE SITUATION. THIS WAS THE BIT WHERE I NEEDED TO PUSH THE PAUSE BUTTON AND RE-ASSESS.
- At this stage instead of calling it quits there and then (where I had taken myself right to the edge in the risk game and needed to back the hell off), my EGO said ‘I know I can do better’. So I ran harder and faster and went for it. When I landed, I heard a crunching noise and then collapsed on the ground, knowing full well that I had very stupidly busted my ankle (and not just a little sprain but something more significant).
When our PERCEIVED level of risk is less then the REAL level of risk, we are in the accident or danger zone. Said another way; if we think the dangers are less than they actually are, we are likely to get ourselves into trouble.
Essentially, the choice I made was less conscious, more ego-based, and done in a state of mind that was agitated by a overload of sugar.
This is powerful knowledge for me to use in future, to make better decisions.
(And if you ever see me spending too much time around the desert bar, or talking about coming out of retirement from gymnastics you are not only welcome to, but are strongly encouraged to whack me, detain me, throw things at me, and shout at we to ‘WAKE UP!’ I would be very grateful.
Priceless Lesson #3: It’s called forgiveness
One of the things that can significantly get in the way of our healing and growing is self-abuse. Just like if you abused someone else, it weakens them; when you abuse yourself, it weakens you.
When you are angry at yourself, it is not just an emotion, but that emotion generates a certain set of chemical responses in your body. Different nuero-peptides, neuro-transmitters, and hormones are releases into the blood stream and impact the cells in our bodies. Furthermore the study of epigenetics suggests that it will turn on and turn off the expression of certain genes in our cells, which I can assure you aren’t of the healing variety. Our emotions affect our physical health.
So in my case, I knew the healing of my ankle (which the body automatically does) would be hampered if I remained angry, pissed off, or annoyed at myself. I needed to reach a state of calm and peace as soon as possible, if I wanted my ankle to heal quickly. And I wanted to set that intention as quickly as I was able.
Therefore, minutes after the event, I had already started working on forgiving myself for doing something stupid. I encourage you to do this in your own life. It is a powerful tool. When you forgive yourself for your ‘Gifts of Imperfection’ (as Brene Brown calls them), you create more harmony in your physical body, which is essential to healing physically, emotionally and mentally.
I knew without doubt this would speed up the physical healing of my ankle.
Priceless Lesson #4: Getting clear of the bigger lessons
Having taken care of the last couple of pieces it was now time to ask the bigger question (since I have a belief that EVERYTHING that happens in my life is an opportunity to learn and grow)…”WHAT IS LIFE TRYING TO TEACH ME?”
Here is what came up for me:
- Enough of the ad-hoc gymnastics! Put it to bed. Move on. 😉
- Understand that sugar is substance that definitely alters your mental state (if you haven’t watch That Sugar Film with the NASA scientist talking about the impact of sugar on the brain, then check it out); so go easy on the sweets.
- It is time (I turn 48 in about 6 weeks) to let go of the need to prove myself physically to people younger than me. Let them have the floor, the spotlight and the limelight. Evolve into the next phase of my life, which is less about proving myself physically and more about loving myself unconditionally just for existing. There is no need to prove myself. Let go of that.
- Accept that the body changes as we age, so being more mindful of the limitations this might create. Now I am not going to stop being physically active (or live in a bubble), but I am going to be more mindful of what ways I challenge my physical body.
- This is a great opportunity to learn about the best way to heal an injury like this, so I can teach other people what worked for me. My life is about learning, growing and sharing. And here is a perfect chance for me to share what I learn through direct experience.
And I will continue to go even deeper…
Priceless Lesson #5: What now needs to be done?
This is where we own the ‘mis-take’ and get down to the business of dealing with the reality of the consequences. Okay, sh#t happens, now what can I do about it?
This is where you get CREATIVE. You accept where you are. You get clear about where you want to get to. And then you get started.
I look at the resources I have that can support me. Be they tools and techniques I can use on myself, or other people / specialists that can help me achieve my result. I seek out people who have gone through similar and ask them what they did. I talk to specialists. I research on the internet.
And then I do the work.
And I know my recovery will be quicker and more complete, because I have gone through the rehabilitation of a knee reconstruction in the past, and I know so much more now than I did 20 years ago when that happened. I now know how to do the inner work as well, in order to speed up the healing process. So bring it on!!
The healing process of bodies is greatly increased if we create an environment of peace, calm, love and harmony. If we don’t process the emotional side of making dumb decisions, it is much slower and less effective for us to heal, even at a physical level.
The greatest thing I realised out of this experience, which is the main message I want to leave you with, is that FORGIVENESS is such a powerful tool in our health, growth and evolution. We all make stupid decisions. We are human and therefore gorgeously imperfect. And some of the decisions have pretty major consequences for ourselves and others. So forgive yourself and then ask ‘What now needs to be done’ and get on with it.
The other point I want to leave you with is that sending the intention of love to my throbbing ankle (in my case) is going to make the healing much quicker and more effective, than if I am getting angry at my body for expressing pain. The environment we want to create for healing is one of calm and harmony.
I am now (5 days after the event) totally cool with busting my ankle and I am very grateful for the fact it was not worse.
Wishing you a fabulous day, and a forgiveness-filled day!