Sometimes life knocks pretty hard. Sometimes life knocks super hard. And the knocks can leave us feeling bruised, beat up, hurt and weakened. Nearly everyone can identify with this to some degree. My question is: What did you do to take care of yourself during this time? And for those feeling this way as you read this: What are you doing to take care of yourself right now?
Rocky Balboa is one of my favorite cinematic heroes. He’s a simple guy, a boxer, not particularly talented, not particularly clever. What Rocky does have is heart and determination. In the first of the many movies about Rocky Balboa’s life, he gets a chance to fight the heavyweight world champion boxer, Apollo Creed. As he trains for the fight, he befriends 3 people. His girl Adrian, her brother Paulie, and his trainer Mickey. These relationships are the source of Rocky’s heart and determination.
Later in the series, Mickey dies. And Rocky ends up befriending former adversary Apollo Creed to train for his fight against James “Clubber” Lang, a vicious boxer played by Mr. T. It is in Rocky III that Mr. T says the famous line, “I pity the fool!”
Here’s a link to that scene: http://bit.ly/10cy2Qk
My point is that Rocky’s success is really built on the support he has from Adrian, Apollo, Mickey, and Paulie. And this is the real lesson that modern neuroscience is proving: that humans are biologically programmed to soothe and heal themselves best by being with other people. Dan Siegel, a leading interpersonal neurobiologist, stresses that others (partners, spouses, friends, family, therapists, etc.) are the primary tools for helping us cope with the hard knocks of life. Siegel uses the illustration of a parent soothing a child that has become emotional dysregulated. The parent’s presence with the child, staying calm and using touch to soothe the child, helps the child to soothe the pain they are feeling or the adversity they are facing.
Sometimes as adults I think we forget to use this basic self-care principle. We try to deal with our wounds by ourselves, if at all. If you find yourself not turning to others to deal with your hurt and pain, let me suggest this as one of the best ways to help you through your struggles.
And for you guys and boys, we typically don’t do this well. But even if you have friends that you don’t share your pain with, spending time with your friends will help. And if you aren’t talking with someone about your pain, try individual counseling or talk therapy. This can be a very safe and private place for you to soothe as you move through life.
We all get by with a little help from our friends.