Issue #115, November 30 2022
Welcome to Insights and Implications!
It’s funny how knowledge of a simple fact can make navigating life as a human being easier sometimes. This month, Nikki Platte reminds us what’s behind our feelings.
Sending warm holiday wishes,
All of us at Insight Principles
I tore my ACL last week. For the third time. And I thought it’d be helpful to share my subsequent mood storm with everyone as an example of how our thoughts can take us all over the place sometimes!
ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament. It’s an important stabilizing ligament that runs through the center of your knee and connects your thighbone to the shinbone. I’ve already torn both my right and left ACLs playing soccer and each tear required surgery.
After the second tear, I pretty much vowed to never play soccer again. However, a couple weeks ago, five years after my second surgery, fresh off coaching my daughter’s U8 team combined with some good old fashioned World Cup fever, I was feeling inspired. I figured running around playing indoor soccer would be a great way to stay in shape over the winter and decided to try one more time. Famous last words.
10 minutes into this experiment, I found myself lying on the green turf in agony after my knee gave way with a familiar pop and searing pain.
After confirmation via MRI, I’m now facing a third surgery and riding a pretty good emotional rollercoaster. Regret, appreciation, fear, more regret, hope, gratitude, dread, all of it. Nothing about my knee or my life has changed since this latest injury. My knee just sits there being a broken knee while doing its best to clear itself of swelling and heal. So how can my experience involve such a wide range of feelings and moods?
As you learned in our programs, all human experience begins with thinking. In the last two weeks (and counting), my thinking (and therefore, my mood) has varied wildly. I’ve found myself caught in personal pity parties. I’ve been flooded with appreciative thoughts about competent surgeons and good health insurance. A few minutes later, I’ll be worrying about my family’s planned vacation to Mexico in January. And then I’ll kick myself (hard) for trying to play again. When that passes, I’ll feel grateful for supportive family and friends. And then mad at myself again and dreading surgery and the long recovery before flipping to hopeful that I’ve been through this before and know what to expect.
And then I’ll get focused on something at work and forget about the whole thing for a while.
What the heck!? All of this happens at various times throughout the day. All day, every day, all week, both weeks. Around the loop and back again. My knee is still broken, still painful, still awaiting surgery. The only thing changing in this experience is my thinking.
Luckily, thanks to my understanding of the human mind, I know my moods, regardless of the content, are coming from the inside-out. They originate from my thinking about the situation. And for some reason, knowledge of this simple fact somehow helps. Because I trust that my thinking will shift on its own, I know my moods won’t last, so I don’t worry when I’m low. From time to time, I’m beating myself up about trying soccer again, but at least I’m not beating myself up about beating myself up. When I find myself bummed out, I let myself be bummed out without taking it too seriously.
It’s hard to take something seriously when you know it will change. Moods are like the weather. You might not like the weather, but you know that it will naturally change without your interference, so shaking your fist at the clouds doesn’t really make sense.
I fully expect that my thinking – and therefore my moods – will shift frequently in the coming weeks. It’s okay with me because I know where it’s all coming from. And somehow, knowing where my experience is coming from makes the experience itself easier to navigate.
Funny how that works even when your knees don’t.
Wishing you all healthy bodies and a wonderful holiday season!