This is me. This is raw. This is real. How are you?
"I knew as I sat there waiting for a nurse to come, that I desperately wanted a human to acknowledge what had just happened to me: to acknowledge the upset at being left abandoned just when I needed help. Just to put their hand on my arm or back and connect with true compassion"...
Yesterday I had a fall. It's been many years since I fell and injured myself. In fact so long, I can't even remember the last time I did. It may even have been back in childhood.
The outcome could have been really nasty. Fortunately it wasn't, but it could have been, and the experience really brought home to me the importance of human connection, human support... and human intelligence. True human intelligence... which goes far beyond intellectual acumen.
The incident also highlighted why I'm so passionate about my work as an emotional intelligence trainer, and the need for humanity to upgrade its skills in this domain.
So let me share what happened, in the hope it sparks greater recognition for the importance of putting the human back in humanity... and for people to up their skills in EI.
I recently started a part-time job as a driver for a delivery company. Apart from Covid impacting my business this year, and the sheer reality of making ends meet as a single person, I just wanted to be out and about a bit more in my work life, meeting people, working in a team again. So I started work as a part-time delivery driver.
It was the end of my 4 hour evening shift, which had gone very well, and I was walking back to the car to check it was charging properly (they use electric vehicles). As I walked across the concrete driveway, I failed to spot a dip in the ground, and in an instant came crashing to the floor.
If you've ever had an unexpected fall, you know how quickly it can happen. One minute you're upright, the next you're face-planted on the ground. As you fall, the brain is trying to make sense of what is happening - you're semi-aware you are falling but there is no time to control or stop it - and all you can do in that split-second is surrender.
In the process, I landed with full impact on one knee. The pain in that moment was extreme. I'm not a wafer-slim person, and there were a few kilos behind the fall, magnified by the speed I was walking at the time.
Initially I lay on the ground stunned, in pain, the first thought being 'how bad have I injured my knee?' Simultaneously I burst into tears with the shock.
I couldn't move.
Instinctively I knew I needed to lay still and allow my body to callibrate what had just happened. I immediately set in motion some Qi healing, which I have been fortunate enough to learn through my years of Qigong training, and I could feel it's beneficial effects. I was supremely grateful for being able to do this.
But the reality was, I was still lying on the ground, by myself, at 9 o'clock in the evening, unable to move.
I knew the other driver from the evening shift was not far away. He was also 'putting his car to bed'. From over on my right I heard him asking 'are you ok?' In my state of immobility and shock, with tears pouring down my face, I responded 'no, I'm not'. He came over, and repeated the question, and again I responded, no, and that I needed to lie on the ground for a while. And then he walked off.
Yes, he walked away.
I would estimate he was in his early 20's, and my guess is had little idea of how to deal with a middle-aged women in tears. I'm not wishing to criticize his actions, because after all he did come over and ask if I was ok, but the reality is, any fully emotionally in-tune person would not leave an injured person by themselves in that moment.
Which is one of the reasons for sharing this story.
Where have we come to in our humanity when a fellow human-being falls down, is unable to get up, and we walk away and leave them, rather than staying to make sure they are ok - physically and / or emotionally? Where have our basic human skills gone?
Unfortunately in our society, many people are uncomfortable with emotions, either their own, or others'.
I get it.
I used to be like this too.
I was completely oblivious to my own feelings, unconsciously afraid to feel any type of 'negative' emotion, the result of growing up in an emotionally illiterate family. I don't say this to be derogatory to my family. They cared for me deeply, but like many families, were unable to show, or deal with, emotions.
As I lay there on the ground, continuing the emergency healing on my knee, but still unable to move, another co-worker walked past. He doesn't speak much English, and asked me in broken English if I was ok. Again I repeated 'no, I'm not'.
He continued walking past into the warehouse. I didn't know if he had gone to alert the manager on duty, who by this stage had no idea what had happened. A few more minutes went by, and neither of them appeared, so I deducted he had not said anything, and had clocked off, as the warehouse was closing for the night.
One of your co-workers is lying on the ground, immobile, and you disappear without saying anything or checking on them? How emotionally intelligent is this? Where is the ability to put oneself in someone else's shoes, to imagine or perceive what that person needs? (one of the basic elements of EI).
Another few minutes went by. I was still crying, but I could feel my body was starting to come to terms with the hard-hitting fall, and was already miraculously instigating the body's self-healing process. Whilst still feeling upset and dumbfounded by the fact that two human beings had left me lying on the ground, I could feel that I was approaching the point of being able to attempt to stand up and walk.
I gingerly rolled myself over and somehow managed to stand up, taking a very careful step on my injured leg. It was OK. I could walk.
I limped slowly into the front office where the duty manager was, who still unaware of what had happened, tears still flowing down my face. I knew for potential ACC reasons I needed to advise of the fall, and told him. He asked if I was OK, and I said 'I think so' although I still wasn't 100% sure of any potential damage, and I certainly did feel emotionally OK, as my body was still processing the shock.
In EI health terms there is a label for events like this: a UDIN.
A UDIN is an:
It is a dramatic, out-of-the-blue shock event, where in the moment of the event happening, we feel isolated and alone, and do not have an immediate strategy for dealing with it.
For the body, this is an experience of trauma, which it has to process and respond to; physically, energetically, mentally and emotionally. These moments are typically experienced when we have an unexpected accident of any type.
The important thing with UDIN moments is to recognize (re-cognize) when they are happening, either in the moment or shortly after, and know how to deal with their effects, not just physically, but particularly emotionally.
This means knowing how to deal with the emotions which are spontaneously triggered at the time of the event. There can be an array of emotions triggered, including fear, upset, hurt, sadness, aloneness... depending on the nature of the event.
Often people are unaware of the UDIN phenomenon, or how to deal with the emotions, which leads to the emotional energy being 'snap-frozen' into the cells of the body at the time of the UDIN, where they stay until they are cleared. This trapped emotional energy is often and unknowingly the culprit of many physical symptoms or illnesses which develop later (but that's another story).
For now, I was aware of what was happening emotionally, but more focused on ensuring my body was OK physically. Despite the beneficial effects of the Qi healing, which I was continuing to do mentally, I felt I should get my leg checked out at A&E. I didn't even know if there was an A&E, I've only been in this town a few months. I didn't know if I would be able to drive my car, but anticipated that since I could just walk, I could probably drive.
Which brought home to me also the stark recognition there was not one person in that moment who I could think of to phone for help.
What would have happened had I been unable to stand, or walk, or drive? What then?
I guess in that case at some point the manager would have found me lying on the ground on his final round to shut the warehouse, and an ambulance would have been called, or perhaps he would have driven me to the hospital.
But since I was able to walk, and the manager had therefore assumed I was OK, (although I clearly knew I wasn't), it again brought home to me the need to be able to put oneself in someone else's shoes, and check on the physical and emotional needs of that person. Did they need help? Did they need support? Basic EQ 101.
By now I had decided I needed to get my leg checked out at the local hospital, where I hoped there was an A&E unit, and was also aware that part of the reason for doing so feeling the need to go there was to get emotional as well as physical support.
I drove to the hospital, parked the car, and carefully made my way to the front door. The place seemed deserted. I pressed the buzzer and a voice through the intercom told me to walk in, sign the entry sheet and sit down. Whilst I recognized the reality of low staff numbers at night to man a small hospital reception, the technologically-faceless welcome did not exactly help the need for human connection!
I knew as I sat there waiting for a nurse to come, that I desperately wanted a human to acknowledge what had just happened to me: to acknowledge the upset at being left abandoned just when I needed help. Just to put a hand on my arm or back and connect with true compassion.
When the nurse arrived, she could see I was upset, and did acknowledge that I was in shock. Obviously nurses are trained to know this aspect of accidents. But even so, as we walked down the corridor to the examination room, there was no offer of physical help, or reaching out to hold my arm as I walked. Small gestures can make big differences, and are so important in times like this. Humans need connection and touch - it's just a basic human need.
Fortunately she determined there was no major damage, which I also had suspected, but as I said, part of the reason for going to the hospital was to be able to tell another human being what had happened, and to be emotionally acknowledged.
Being acknowledged emotionally is such an essential and basic human need.
Indeed, lack of recognition is one of the core wounds we experience as children (and adults), leading to deep feelings of lack of self-worth and self-value, which themselves lie at the foundation of many mental health issues and physical symptoms. I can say this for sure from years of clinical work with chronically unhappy or sick clients.
But at least I felt partially acknowledged by the nurse, and left the hospital feeling slightly better, whilst also knowing there was still more emotional processing work needed to fully complete and clear the emotional and physical shock of the incident.
I made my way back to car, and sat staring at the clear sky as the dusk was falling. And I sobbed.
I sobbed as I gave myself permission to fully re-cognize what had just happened, and how the initial lack of support had triggered deep memories of similar aloneness and lack of support as a child.
I cried for the sorrow I felt at many humans' general inability to recognize the emotional needs of others, which is in epidemic proportions in the world. We have forgotten how to have empathy... how to connect... how to feel. We have become emotionally inept.
And I saw what a wonderful teaching tool this incident was - and how it had brought me the opportunity to heal another chunk of unresolved emotional hurt from the past. And I felt grateful for the skills I have to be able to self-manage emotions and traumatic shock moments.
I was aware as I drove home of the gratitude I had for the Qi healing, and for my car chauffeuring me home. I still knew I needed to connect with a human being who could really understand the need for true emotional acknowledgement, and was fortunate enough to make contact with a friend in the UK, as by now it was too late to phone someone in my time zone (such is the wonders of technology).
But overall, the lesson of the day was seeing how much and how far we still have to go to putting the human back in humanity, including being emotionally literate and vulnerable enough to put ourselves in others' shoes and gage their needs. To truly care for our fellow human beings.
PS. The leg is healing brilliantly, in fact quite miraculously, I am sure much to do with the Qi healing.
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