Everyone Has Their Limp

I walk with a limp. It’s an interesting limp, subtle yet evident. Often times people who don’t know me can’t quite pinpoint the cause. The hip? A recent injury? The knee? The ankle? A prothesis? It’s uniquely mine.

We all have our limps. It might not show up in our walk that displays our history with our structural bodies. It shows up uniquely to everyone in its combination of circumstances that have formed aspects of how we live, interact and orient in our lives.

Every one of us has areas that are strong - abilities, ways, talents or traits that come easily through our own innate gifts or natural survival instincts. Some of these strengths might really be serving us, some of these adapted survival instincts could be costing us. For example, those of us who have developed strong independence for survival might also have trouble being a good receiver.

I am a big possibility person.

Yes, I believe there are always more possibilities for ourselves available for ourselves than we realize. I think we often discount our own possibilities too quickly, or we give our power away to others and accept their version of possibilities for ourselves.

A couple years ago when I got a new prosthetic limb with advanced technology in my foot, I went to the physical therapist to help smooth out my gait (reduce my limp) as much as possible. Three powerful things happened when I took physical therapy. One, I was able to be full weight bearing on my right leg for 2.5 seconds which is something I had not been able to do in over twenty years. When I first did it, it felt exhilarating because I broke through the status quo for myself.

Secondly, my physical therapist would say to me that my ability to walk and the way in which I limped came from my survivor instincts. My limp was based in survival? What did she mean? Well, I used all the muscles that were naturally easy for my body to pull upon and made them even stronger. What resulted was other muscles weakened. My body relied less on them and used them very little. The problem with staying in that instinctive survival mode my body used to thrive is also what could make me remain imbalanced and locked within the comfort level of getting by. Staying with what felt only natural to my situation might also cause me to end up with less functional fullness and refinement.

It’s really overcompensating in one area that leaves another area undeveloped. It can easily be seen with people who use anger to control; they are really compensating for an underdeveloped area that is actually more vulnerable. Even excessive negative thinking can be a compensating trait to not be vulnerable and let down by life.

We all have our limps. The endless number of areas of our lives that the limp may appear.

People pleasing. Co-dependence.

Over compensating. Addiction.

Envy. Ego power.

Entitlement. Self-centeredness.

Insensitivity. Overly sensitive.

Martyr behavior. Passive aggressive.

There are so many compensating ways that can become sources of imbalance.

The power is when we understand it for what it is. It frees us to observe other people’s limp without taking it personally. So much suffering happens when we personalize the underlying pain and insecurity of another, even when they have it dressed up in anger or insensitivity. When we spot it coming at us in some capacity and remind ourselves, “Oh, that’s way it is… it’s just their limp,” it actually translates to more compassion - compassion for others, compassion for ourselves.

To live compassionately leads us to a more balanced and kinder place with ourselves and each other.

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