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Why Does Falling Down Suck?

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

I fell today on a run in the canyon, along a cliff side. The road rash was more than minimal but less than tragic. My right knee hurts and the palm of my left hand is thrashed. These are injuries to be felt for a few days. The run was going so well but my off-road skills are a bit rusty. I have never fallen on this part of the trail…. Ever and I never intend on falling on that single track stretch again. I am so grateful that my experience was minimal in the greater scheme of things. The reality is that falling sucks. Crashing on rocky terrain blows. I will be pushing gravel out of my palm for a while, because scrubbing it hasn’t done the job. So what’s up with falling?

There is something inside of me that needed to get my undivided attention. At the river two days ago, I hurt my right toes enough to check for any broken bits. When we physically hurt ourselves, could it be that something is trying to get our attention? What was I not able to see a few days ago? If I saw it, would I have saved myself from a more dramatic impact with the earth? I wonder. Thankfully, I can access all the parts of my body. I can take a pregnant pause to check in fully. Does everything work? Seems so. Is anything broken? Doesn’t seem as though. Am I in an emergency? No. Can I jog the rest of the way to the car and finish the sunrise run with easy strides? Absolutely.

The other interesting thing to experience from getting hurt in this manner, is the waves of shock that my body wants to go through once the adrenaline begins to wane. Now it is a manner of staying expertly conscious in what my body is starting to do. I don’t necessarily have control of it going into shock, but I can guarantee that I don’t need to fully go there. When we don’t feel safe in our bodies, there is the option to leave. That is what shock is. When the rabbit gets snatched up in a wolf’s mouth, the Soul will leave which usually causes the death of the rabbit. Oh shit, let’s get out as fast as we can. Save my soul, leave the body behind.

What is the threshold for this to be an experience? Physical injury will absolutely take you into shock, but what about mentally? Accessing mental health while utilizing the body is a conversation that is essential to have. Trauma can come in all forms and shock can catch us when we least expect it. The types of events that can trigger psychological shock reactions include:

  • A car accident or near miss.

  • Being broken up with.

  • Your child having an accident or near miss.

  • Situations that provoke fear, such as being in an airplane with severe turbulence.

  • Witnessing something scary.

  • Hearing a story that makes you feel traumatized, such as learning a friend's child has drowned.

  • Consuming a news stories that provokes a trauma reaction, such as hearing a story about people being separated from their children.

  • Getting sued or some other financial related stressor.

  • Being stopped by the police.

  • Being at the dentist.

What are the symptoms of psychological shock?

  • The hallmark symptom of shock is feeling a surge of adrenalin.

  • You may feel jittery or physically sick, like you're going to vomit or have diarrhea.

  • Your mind will likely feel very foggy, or like you can't think straight.

  • You may feel out of body.

  • Your chest may feel tight.

  • You may feel a disconnection from what's happening, like you're watching a movie of events unfolding rather than being there.

  • You may feel intense anger and want to scream or yell—for example, if your child is injured while someone else is supposed to be watching them.

  • You may feel like you want to run.

Your body is going into flight or fight, preparing for a reaction that is biologically automated to get you back to safety. This is such a useful tool and has served us for many lifetimes to keep the species alive. The thing is, a news story is different than running away from a bear, but your mind doesn’t know that. It knows the response which stimulates reactionary symptoms, called shock. What if you started to learn skills to consciously keep you from falling into that pit? Developing and fostering skills that let you recognize the entirety of the event, access the feelings in your body and gracefully help you move through the event. Ultimately having control over your mind, because you have decided to bring the body along for the ride. Letting the body be an active participant about what is happening. Your nervous system has incredibly good reasons to distort the reality of our experience, but it’s not a big deal. You just keep trucking along with it. What we perceive that is reality…is surely not reality.

All in all, I am recovering. I have relived the event in my third eye, which isn’t fun. Falling hard is no joke, though it does give me some perspective about how tough I really am. Sometimes we need these types of things to happen to get a clearer perspective about us as a human. I think that I needed to be thrown to the ground, so that I could experience some real trauma to feel through it. Physically connecting with the earth is just another opportunity to access my body skills, compassion and love for myself and others.

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