The Problem Isn’t Your Motivation, It’s Your Wound

The Problem Isn’t Your Motivation, It’s Your Wound

A woman in her mid-forties walks into a therapist’s office with a broken leg. She is at her wits’ end. Sitting down in the therapist’s chair, she says, “I’m so frustrated. I’ve been trying to run a marathon for years, but I just can’t do it. There must be something wrong with me. I try to get out of bed to train, but I just don’t want to. Even when I force myself, I can’t go nearly as far as everyone else. It is like I’m somehow deficient. After practicing, I am in so much agony that I have to take pain killers. Other people can run without resorting to pain killers. I just don’t understand what is wrong with me.”
What is the first thing you would say to this person? “The problem is your broken leg.”
I use this as a metaphor for those with trauma. Such individuals often try to ‘willpower’ their way past severe and debilitating wounds- wounds that are present and yet invisible.
This is especially prevalent for survivors of psychological violence. Why? Well, a soldier can point to the war, and a disaster survivor can point to the hurricane. Survivors of psychological violence often have no idea that their experiences are traumatic.