Not long ago I was reflecting on a fabulous opportunity that had shown up-creative work in an exotic location. The timeline was tight and my schedule was already full. It would be a big push. But would I really say "no" to such a wonderful opportunity?

Probably not. It was at this moment I fell. Stumbling on a dog bed out of place, my whole body came crashing down on my right foot. The pain was intense. The doctor told me it was an odd break, three bones in the center of my foot.

My injury made it clear I had to say no to the great opportunity. In a way, I felt relieved. My foot reinforced what I had been saying for a while: I needed a break. Isn't it funny how my foot had to take a stand for stillness?

I was surprised to hear from the client again. He called me back with a different scenario-still creative work, still a fabulous location and still a very tight timeline. I said I would need to think about it. My ego was thrilled he wanted me, and my foot was still broken. Would it heal in time?

A friend suggested I ask my foot for its opinion about what to do. Early the next morning, as I slowly woke from my deep sleep, I asked the other end of my body, should we take this fabulous opportunity? I have never heard my foot talk before, but the voice was loud and clear. She said, "NO WAY!" Still, I did not believe her until later that day when the doctor confirmed my foot's opinion. The break was too bad.

It felt like I had an ally in my foot. I was having difficulty breaking my overactive patterns. Now, I had no choice. I was oddly grateful. And you would think my foot would have my full attention. No. The same friend suggested I ask my foot on a regular basis what it needed. Just before a fully planned weekend, I asked my right foot what we needed. She replied quickly: "stillness." That wasn't the answer I wanted to hear. I had a commitment; I needed to make it work. I almost fell three times the first time I entered the retreat center. But, oddly, I did not think about reconsidering. I pushed through bringing along my reluctant broken foot.

It was only when it was all over that I noticed how terribly unkind I had been to myself, ignoring what I needed. I know the foundation of me showing up as I intend-resilient, compassionate and authentic-starts with how I treat myself. I have learned how to be less harsh with myself in many ways. And thanks to my foot, I am learning I need to continue to cultivate my self-compassion so all parts of my body are aligned with my voice.
Marcia Hyatt is a leadership and life coach.

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