My Effing Shoulder! (The Gift Inside of Pain)
If you’re over 40, chances are you’ve got some body part or another that squawks at you—either all the time or at least regularly.
And if you’re anything like me you’re pissed off about it and you might be complaining like crazy.
Most of us think these body aches, pains, and malfunctions are simply a hassle and a bummer. A sign that we’re getting old.
But… what if there’s always more to the story?
What if even the shittiest body event is actually leading you to a better outcome overall?
This was my epiphany yesterday. And it led to a powerful reframe.
See, for me right now the pain is my shoulder. Well, both of them – but my right shoulder (and arm) has not just been squawking. It’s been yelling.
It’s been going on for months. Instead of going away, it’s getting worse.
I can’t do my vinyasa yoga routine. I can’t lift weights. I can’t even do exercise routines that involve waving and moving my arms in any way.
At least not without pain.
My shoulder and arm wake me up multiple times a night throbbing with pain.
Basically my arm is fucked.
I’ve been thoroughly pissed off about it. No up side that I could see.
To make matters worse the Universe kept foiling my attempts to get it looked at by a professional.
Every glitch possible happened, and I was beginning to wonder if I would ever get a chance to get some treatment.
Well yesterday I finally got in.
I celebrated. Finally I could get this thing diagnosed and cured! At long last I can get back on track with my exercise routine, and get moving towards my strength-building goal.
True…and not true.
The PT kept framing it as good news and bad news. The good news: it’s very unlikely it’s a rotator cuff tear. My mobility is still pretty good.
The bad news: my postural muscle tone has deteriorated causing weakness and pain. And it will take (according to her) a good long while to build up those muscles and become pain-free.
She gave me a set of simple exercises to start building back that muscle tone. Along with the standard reminders about paying attention to my posture, taking breaks while sitting and at the computer, shoulder rolls, etc.
I left feeling some relief that at least I had some proactive action to take.
But, also frustrated.
This posture thing has actually been a lifelong issue for me. Since way before midlife. I have a hereditary tendency to hunch and slump… even more so than most modern humans.
I thought yoga was helping. Apparently it’s going to take more body mindfulness than that..
Here I was – thinking that my #1 goal was to ‘double’ my strength before my 60th birthday…. when it turns out that the first goal needs to be just to consistently hold my body up straight.
But… then I started thinking. …
My dad is 87 and he is basically a hunchback now. And his sister was the same way before she died at 83. This hereditary thing is real.
Is it possible that this arm pain was a wake up call and a powerful message? One that will save me from this fate?
I didn’t even realize that these muscles were so atrophied. Why would I? I’m healthy and active.
I would have just kept unconsciously hunching over my phone or computer and thinking that doing yoga and staying active was keeping me strong enough.
I’m not gonna lie… I’m still totally bummed about this pain. When I woke up this morning it was bad.
But, this new awareness is helping me process those feelings so much faster. I want to be as lithe and active as possible in my 70s and 80s.
It might sound crazy, but staying aware of my posture is going to take a LOT of focus and concentration for me. Partly because it requires getting out of my head and noticing what’s happening in my body.
A practice that doesn’t come easily or naturally to me.
As a life coach I know there are a LOT of other benefits to dropping into my body though.
I have just amplified the practice.
Today I’m even gonna go so far as to say ‘thanks’ to this shoulder and arm pain. A little begrudgingly for sure.
But, I’m soooo glad I’m realizing what’s up now and not after it’s too late.
Every shitty situation in your life has a reframe like this.
Your brain wants to default to seeing only shittiness. Whether the pain is physical or emotional.
It takes practice to remember to ask, ‘where is the gift here?’
Can you find one in YOUR pain?