Not Learning from our Mistakes

Last week, I came out of an evening class just a few minutes too late to catch a bus home, and had to wait a long 40 minutes for the next one. My back ached as I had had an active day; misbehaving nerves were making my glut muscles pulse and twitch unpleasantly, and the chilly autumnal temperature wasn’t helping. Consequently, fatigue entered centre stage, and an accompanying mental gloom which spread into the next morning, as well as negativity and a moan about the public transport frequency to my housemate when I finally got home.

So: This week, I remembered the bus times and asked to leave the class ten minutes early so that I could catch it. I did, and with the extra time and energy which the stress-free, earlier return home blessed me with, here I am writing this post!

It struck me that it’s so easy to learn from a bad experience and make it better the next time around. Because let’s face it, we are always striving to make our lives easier and more comfortable for the most part.  This has been a familiar thought pattern of late, as I continuously endeavour to learn from bad, debilitating episodes of pain and figure out that reoccurring question: What triggered it this time? What did I do wrong?  – Of course with chronic pain, you can keep guessing and experimenting and trying different postures, remedies, treatments and medications; you can try to analyse a relapse all you want and see what happened, but it is impossible to completely guarantee avoiding another relapse or another bad, painful evening/ day/ week.

I feel I am constantly, each week and each day, having to balance my levels of activity, my working hours and my rehab exercise regime. Am I doing too much? Am I too inactive? Must keep mobile… must not overdo it.. must not rush about.. 

I am wondering if these seem like familiar thoughts and questions for other people out there? Maybe you’ll agree that it is mentally tiring, all this balancing and planning and pacing. So I am trying to accept that I won’t always get it right, or make the ‘wise’ choice for my health. These days I don’t bother over-analyzing a painful episode, even though some level of asking “why?” and trying to learn from mistakes is inevitable and in built in me it seems! The analysis can lead to beating myself up about it – – –  *Cue: That was really stupid! Why didn’t you listen to your body?* – – – In fact, worrying about the cause and berating myself for making a mistake (or sometimes enjoying myself too much, to phrase it in another way) is a wasting energy which is better spent on healing, and on doing the right things to ease the pain and bring relief.

With chronic pain, I am learning that it’s a matter of managing it as best I can, and accepting that I can’t necessarily always learn from a relapse (or consult any bus timetable to predict it!), but at least I can become more aware each time of how I react and how this might be making it worse. Reflecting on the bus stop misery last week, I am pleased to say that I didn’t beat myself up for not looking up the bus times in advance! 🙂


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