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Acting on awareness is a skill we all have.

This is something that can be far overlooked and underrated.

We do so many things in life and don't even acknowledge, recognise or give ourselves credit for the acts we do. Yet if something goes wrong, we will replay it over and over in our heads and create stress and anxiety beyond the realms of rational thinking. Telling ourselves how stupid we are and continuing to carry the burden we have bestowed upon ourselves in our minds, sometimes for many years.

How and why has this post come about you may ask?

Keeping a story short, you may recall I was set to cycle a large distance for charity. My bike, attached to the roof rack left the car it was being transported on and had some pretty superficial and on closer inspection, more severe damage. The bike challenge was stifled somewhat, and repairs were carried out later that day and evening.

You may be asking, what has this got to do with PTSD or mental health?

The bike was mended and looked fine, but after riding it for a while things started to appear, and all was not so well.

On the surface, the bike looks ok.

The wheels are no longer slightly buckled. The handlebar tape was replaced and the brake lever was realigned. The pedal that was shaved down by scrapping along the road surface, was replaced and the seat was glued as best I can, (a new one has been ordered.)

A rear wheel nut had seized from the abrasion, and preventing the wheel from being removed if a puncture occurred. Thankfully this was mended by an ex-pro cyclist. Muito obrigardo senhor, muito respect.

And from glancing, you wouldn't know it had been in a crash. Thankfully the roof rack took the brunt of it all. Sorry for my mate's roof rack though. That was destroyed.

My point here is that by ignoring the trauma and damage that was inflicted, hidden stresses and issues will show themselves eventually. Continuing on as if nothing happened will catch up with itself. Continuing to put the bike under stress by merely riding it has allowed the deeper injuries or damage to reveal itself in time. The saddle that was also scrapped along the road surface, albeit glued and looks ok, doesn't feel right. It creaks and rocks very slightly. This over time and distance will affect me directly.

The gears and chain have begun occasionally to jump or slip and a few days ago whilst descending at 58kmph I heard a terrible noise from the chain set and it was visibly knocking and jumping. Brakes were very quickly applied and after much tinkering, I decided to return via the shortest route and go back very slowly. I have never had this happen before and at one point the chain even completely came off. This could have been a big mistake. 58kmph, downhill, an aging man in lycra, that doesn't bounce as well as I used to. Older and wiser, I like to think.

On much closer inspection, I think I must have picked up debris or a stone. Or was it the crank (pedals) adjusting from having the weight of 2 bikes and a roof rack on it whilst scrapping along the road at speed? The stress under tension from the weight and at that angle will have taken it out of alignment, topped with increased friction and speed, placed upon it, will not have done it any favors. It was not designed to be used this way or in this field of motion.

The bike has suffered a traumatic event.

Painting over the cracks or replacing the superficial damaged parts has not dealt with the underlying damage.

Ignoring and continuing isn't going to make it all better and go away.

You can see I'm using the bike as an example.

Maybe think of this as a person.

A traumatic event has been witnessed or experienced. It's been rationalized and placed into a compartmented box possibly deep in the subconscious and life continues with little regard, other than must keep going. Staying distracted and busy, am I right?

Keep cycling the bike, adding more km/miles and stress fatigue, it will be fine. It's riding ok! But at what point will something cause it to fail?

For us, it may be, 10 minutes late for work, an angry person on the other end of the phone, venting off at whoever sadly picked it up. A surge of rage as someone cuts you up or doesn't indicate as they exit or enter a roundabout. Or simply, that twinge in the neck or back, or knee that has been pestering you for months, with no time or money to deal with it, until you are forced to stop as it pops.

Stress and fatigue will be held somewhere within us, in our frame. Just like the bike.

Can you relate or does this sound familiar?

"You ok mate? ".............. "yeah I'm fine" comes your reply and you laugh things off or change the subject, ignoring or not even acknowledging anything is wrong.

You dare not show any signs of weakness or vulnerability for fear of judgment or being ridiculed.

I am so guilty of doing this for so many years. Hide behind a smile. Couldn't open up as didn't want to feel like a burden or maybe thought they wouldn't understand.

I was already judged by what they did know, so how could they comprehend what they didn't know?

Who are we kidding by not being honest with others?

More importantly, who are we kidding if not being honest with ourselves?

So, when we talk about awareness, it means more than, the "Oh yeah there it is" type of feeling. Awareness is seeing things in their true form.

Acknowledging them for what they really are and feeling the emotions attached to them. How it makes you feel and where within your body and through this we can reframe and positively think, about how we want to feel.

Stress, trauma, and injury will at some point sadly for all of us, play some part in our lives. It's having a conscious awareness of how it makes us feel, and how we in turn respond to it and the priority is how to possibly prevent it.

Seeing, hearing, and feeling the signs and symptoms to lessen or prevent is truly a skill.

A skill we all have.

It's just a case of allowing space and time for new skills to be used.

Ignoring them is your choice, acting on them and learning, from my experience is a better solution.

Like learning to ride a bike. It possibly took many attempts for all of us I'm sure, many of us with failures and possible injuries, but most of us continued, persevered, and now enjoy the freedom to exercise and gain headspace. Learning new things and training to any fitness level will take time and commitment. Remember, don't expect results straight away.

Without listening to my instincts and slowing down, returning slowly and thoroughly going over my bike again, I could be writing a very different post. Like I said, I don't bounce as well as I used to anymore.

Yet, with age and self-work, I am in a far better place to act on intuition rather than impulse or respond to external influences.

My space and energy are mine, and mine alone.

Having awareness of your thoughts and actions has a huge effect on your consequences.

Don't allow stress and pressures to build.

See them, hear them, and feel them.

Listen to your instincts.

For my bike to work for me, it needs maintenance and care. Not just a quick wash and wipe down. Checking the tyres, the brakes, the cables, the wheels, and becoming aware of how it feels to ride has become second nature, checking before and after rides.

It may only be very small subtle differences.

This can be said for our health and mental health too.

Here to inspire and encourage.

I have spent money on a new bike so I am going to look after it.

Why would I not do the same for myself? I cannot escape from me, I am stuck with me, so I may as well look after myself too. We owe it to ourselves to be happy and healthy.


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