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Power of the Mind

Some years ago, I was asked by a quite accomplished massage therapist, “How are you able to feel what you do with your hands?” My answer was very simple; “Because no one told me I couldn’t.” I admit that perhaps I had selective listening and did not hear any of the messages of “You can’t”. This message has guided me well in my practice of physical therapy with clients.

The same message works with the goals and intentions we set for ourselves. When working with patients, I too often hear, “I can’t do this. I’m not good at X. I’ve never been able to do it.” But I believe that, if you feel you can’t, this message is so invasive and toxic, that you are creating your own obstacles to achieving your goals. Now as a coach or physical therapist, we are the guides to give you the steps for working towards that which you can achieve. We practice patience and compassion for the patient, who is on the way to recovery, giving encouragement and guidance, but our jobs would be so much easier and the results come faster if we didn’t need to also contend with self-negation and negative thoughts.

No road is a straight line. In rehabilitating from a specific injury, there are also no straight lines of progress. There will be times when a plateau is reached. Usually, the greatest seen improvement occurs during the early phases of rehabilitation. Later, the gains are not as extreme and noticeable. You may give up. This is when your mind wonders whether to stop or keep going. My former instructor would read an excerpt from the book, “Mastery: the Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment” by George Leonard. The excerpt was about “Loving the Plateau” and was read to us on the 3rd morning of a 4-day class when we students felt overwhelmed, wondering if we would ever “get it.” This concept is key. When you feel you have reached a plateau, don’t think “This is the best it will be”. Embrace the plateau and keep going. If you stick with it, eventually you will gain a new level of ability. No one can tell you exactly how far you will go, or what you can achieve. Time, patience, and perseverance will serve you well.

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