I was more than a little clumsy in my formative years. Accordingly, I’m also more than a little glad that social media was birthed long after! Which means there’s no evidence of that time my shoe came bouncing down the stairs by itself at the New Edition concert and I had to limp down after it to return it to my foot. And I don’t have to rewatch the time my slip “slipped” to my ankles on my way up to the choir stand.
God, be praised.
A couple of my falls landed me in the emergency room. However, none of my blunders landed me in crutches. Cast yes, but no crutches. Why did that matter? In school, crutches were a BIG deal. Kids with crutches seemed to get lots of attention and benefits. They got to leave class early so they could maneuver the halls with less traffic. Instead of walking or taking the bus, they got to come by car and get dropped off by the door. From where I sat, crutches were a doorway to some level of privilege.
As I viewed students with crutches, my maturity level at that time didn’t bring to mind the pain of the injury or the inconvenience of crutches. Somehow I simply overlooked the cast or boot. In my mind, the injury was over and done and these “crutches” were just a way to drag it out for all to see.
Back then, my thinking about crutches was clumsy and rooted in my own desire for attention. And it’s that thinking that opened up the other side of crutches. Where we use the word “crutch” to describe coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, similar to my backwards thinking, crutches are keeping many of us from reaching our goals.
1) Crutches help you ‘avoid’ pain that’s no longer there.
After an injury, it’s common for us not to trust our strength has been fully restored. The memory of the pain suggests that we just adapt to life with crutches, rather than rehabilitate. Don’t keep using crutches because you fear putting your foot down! Sure it may be a little tender the first few times, but don’t ever forget that you can walk! Take some time for rehab and then get back to business.
2) Crutches limit your movement.
You may be moving forward, but you could be going faster. Think about the person in the scary movie that can’t run away because of bulky crutches. There’s a point where the pain of putting your foot down becomes more appealing than getting caught by the zombie, right? Besides that, when you need to maneuver around something in your path, it’s tougher with crutches. Lose ‘em.
3) Crutches draw focus to your past injury, not where you are today.
If all people see are your crutches, they can’t see your progress! When we move to a new environment, we want to be evaluated on where we are today. However, interviewers like to discuss strengths and weaknesses based on our performance in prior roles. Or, consider the scrutiny athletes endure after an injury. There’s always a question of whether they can achieve their prior level of dominance or success after returning from an injury. How would it look if they came on the field using crutches, then ran out to join the team? Our confidence level would be pretty low.
After an injury or wound, especially emotional ones, it feels normal to look for ways to avoid that specific pain again. However, we don’t always realize that our “crutches” don’t prevent future pain as much as they hinder moving toward the future.
Rehabilitation exercises are meant to stretch muscles and reengage joints that were unused during the healing process. In other words, rehab is painful. But, it’s necessary to revive mobility so we can be stronger and more flexible as we return to the exercises of life.
Want your future to chase you down? Lose the crutches!