Most if not all of us have used crutches at some point in our lives and if not we have known someone who had to use them. Crutches are used for a very specific and very important task which is to keep pressure off an injured limb giving it time to recover and once again resume its function.
When I was in middle school I broke my ankle, after I went through the cast and crutches I had my doctors visit where he said I was cleared to take off the cast and stop using the crutches. Imagine how shocked he would be if i had said, “you know what doc, I think I’m just going to keep the crutches, I don’t really need that leg anyway.” I am 100% positive he would have been shocked. This point is easy to see in our physical injuries but much harder to see when we have emotional or mental injuries. With emotional or mental injuries we want to keep the crutches as long as possible even if we have recovered enough to get rid of the crutches and begin to use our injured brain again.
What are these crutches I am referring to and how do they impact us? These crutches stunt our development and growth because we stop using those mental muscles or abilities because they were injured and now we are afraid to use them because we are too scarred and scared the original pain will come back or even a worse injury will occur if we begin to use those mental muscles. Let’s not forget the need for crutches is due to an injury this is true in both physical and mental injuries. Let’s take a look at 3 areas (not an exhaustive list) where we can become injured and use crutches for too long past their use.
Relationships: If you had been in a bad romantic relationship and the person hurt you then the next relationship you were in may have been a crutch. You weren’t in love with them but they were stable and easy to hang out with but deep down you knew it couldn't be long term but you were too scared to move on because of the pain from your first relationship.
Jobs: If you worked at a company that did not treat you well and you were either fired or you left out of frustration the next job you took may have been a crutch. It would become a crutch if you weren't challenged or pushed to become better and if it wasn't really what you wanted to do but you were afraid that if you pursued something you wanted you may fail or land in another bad company. Instead you stay at the stable company and slowly your mental muscles waste away from disuse.
Family: if you constantly need to go back to your family for support whether it is money, recognition, or reassurance they can become a crutch. Yes family should be supportive of you but they should also never become an enabler of laziness or incompetence. Our families should always push us to do better and become our best selves.
If you recognize you have a crutch in your life you have held onto for too long you need to address it. Some trauma is too much for you to handle on your own. If you need professional help to confront the injury please seek it! There is no shame in asking for help, you will never look back and regret getting the help you need. Sometimes however we just want to choose the path of least resistance. We have used our crutch for too long and now our mental muscles have begun to atrophy. Today is the day to get rid of the crutch and get back to working out those muscles! Yes it will be painful but it will be worth it once you realize the functionality you were missing.
Crutches are made to be rented, not bought. Get rid of your crutches once they have served their purpose. Move on, get stronger, be better.
J. Matthew King, Co-founder