How to stop hurting yourself

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I was recently staying in a hotel in London. My case was on a luggage stand. I was only there for one night; by the time I left, I had banged my knee on the edge of the luggage rack at least three times. Finally just before I left, I moved the luggage rack about 2 inches. It was all I needed to do, to stop banging my knee!

Thinking about this afterwards, I asked myself the question: “Why did it take me so long to make the changes that were necessary to stop me hurting myself?” After all, the change I needed to make was easy and obvious.

This is what happened the first time I hit my knee:

  1. I said “ouch”.
  2. I rubbed my knee.
  3. I resolved to remember that the luggage rack stuck out slightly and to be more careful.

This is what happened the next time I banged my knee:

  1. I said “ouch”.
  2. I rubbed my knee.
  3. I reminded myself slightly impatient that this was the second time I’d done this and that I needed to be more careful.

Then, this is what happened the third time:

  1. I said “ouch”.
  2. I rubbed my knee.
  3. I got cross with myself for not remembering.

It’s a simple scenario for a simple problem, but maybe it’s also a common scenario. It’s sometimes how we approach bigger, more important problems, where there is a lot more at stake.

We get wrapped up in getting irritated and angry with ourselves, rather than stopping, taking a breath and asking the practical question: “What do I need to do right now to stop this happening again?”

(c) 2018 Jane Thurnell-Read