Getting injured is, sadly, a part of life. We all go through it, whether it’s a pulled muscle, a broken bone, a paper cut, or something more traumatic. But no matter how serious the injury, it’s jarring. There’s pain, followed by that moment of realizing: I’m hurt. But it’s what you do in the next moment that can play a big role in how well you heal.
No, I’m not talking about staunching the blood—or calling 911. Though by all means do those if needed!
What I’m talking about is the attitude you take toward your injury. In the moment after getting hurt, how do you react mentally and emotionally?
Because there are a whole lot of reactions you can have. And most of them are not all that helpful and may even impede your healing.
Some people get angry after an injury. They berate themselves or blame someone else. This floods your body with anger chemistry, which can further feed the pain cycle.
Other people go straight to denial. That did not just happen. Or…I’m not letting this affect my life one bit. They try to keep doing all of their normal activities. They get upset if the injury doesn’t heal overnight. And they look for magic fixes to make it all go away.
Still others drop into a fear place. They don’t trust that their body will heal. Or they start imagining the worst-case scenario. Their body floods with fear chemicals and that gets looped into the pain cycle.
From there, some people go to despair. This will never heal. They get stuck in negative thinking and hopelessness and then don’t do the self-care needed to help heal.
But even if your reaction is not this extreme, you may find—if you really pay attention—that in the moment after getting hurt, you are sitting in active resistance to the injury. It’s not OK that you’re hurt. Some part of you is fighting the reality of being injured.
So, what is helpful? The one attitude that can be profoundly helpful after an injury—even if it’s just a paper cut—is acceptance. A nanosecond in which you allow, yes, I’m hurt. Alright then. From there, it’s easier to cope with pain. It’s easier to be patient. And it’s easier to accept that, for now, a part of you no longer works as well.
With acceptance, you’ll listen to your body, rather than push it. You’ll allow time for healing. You’ll do the self-care. And, most importantly, you’ll trust your body to heal.