page contents

Getting Hurt From Protecting Yourself  

As I mentioned in my personal column, I recently hurt my shoulder taking a bad fall in an aikido class.  There is a lesson to be learned from that accident about life and relationships, so I thought I would expand on it here.

One of the principles I have learned in aikido is that a lack of commitment in what I do often leads to getting hurt.  The times I am most likely to get hurt are the times I am holding back, focusing more on protecting myself than on fully committing myself to my attack and the energy I give to my partner.  When I am fully committed, and I have a decent sense of my body and how to manage it, things work well and the outcome can be beautiful and dynamic.  When I hold back, the outcome is not beautiful, and it is also much more dangerous.

Why did I hurt my shoulder?  I was being thrown in a hip throw by a man about the same height as me.  He locked one arm and pulled me head first over his hip, driving me to the ground from about three feet high.  The proper way to take a fall is to extend as much as I can through my body, tuck my head, grab part of my partner if I can, and roll over my head landing safely on my back or my side. 

But I got scared and held back.  I didn’t have enough momentum to carry me over and reached out with my arm, eventually landing on and jamming up my shoulder pretty well. 

Why share this with you here?  What does this have to do with relationships?  It is similar to something I see happen often in relationships.  People try to protect themselves by holding back and not fully committing to what they want or what they want to express in a relationship.  They then get hurt, usually more than if they had committed themselves fully to what they wanted in the first place.

It happens all the time in the formation of relationships.  I have seen many examples where both members of a new, potential couple are interested in moving the relationship to deeper levels, but are afraid to say that because it makes them vulnerable.  They piddle along, nothing happens and they get disgusted with each other or have a fight and then move on.  All because both of them were too afraid to state what they really wanted.

It can happen in existing relationships in a myriad of ways.  Being afraid to ask for what you really want because the answer may be no.  Not sharing that something about the relationship is bothering you because you are afraid of conflict.  Holding back on that kiss or other affection that is bubbling up because you are not sure what the reception would be.  All of these things are examples of not fully committing to what you want in a relationship. The lack of commitment is more likely to bring about the hurt than taking action would be.

Be brave.  Commit yourself to what you want in your relationship, to expressing love and care in your relationship, and to making your relationship the best it can be.