The Use Of The Self

I sense that when I see somebody’s use of themselves, I’m looking at how they talk to themselves. It seems to me that much compression results from a punitive attitude to the self. Does that ring true to you? I rarely find someone with terrible use who’s at ease with himself and I rarely find someone with good use who hates himself.

Take someone who complains of tight shoulders for instance. What’s going on in all likelihood is that they are subconsciously tightening their shoulders. But what’s underneath that unnecessary tightening? I bet a punitive attitude to the self, a feeling that I am not good enough, that I need to make myself smaller so others won’t hurt me.

Another client might discover that he unconsciously tilts his head to the right. That that feels normal to him. He goes through life with a weird tilt while he feels like he’s straight. So what is going on underneath that unnecessary compression that’s pulling his to the right? It is a reflection of some strain in his self-talk?

When people are happy, they are at their most buoyant. When depressed, they are pulled down.

Comments from other Alexander teachers:

* Emotional shields, makes people feel safer.

* This not only true some of the time, it is always the case. We address habits of mind along with all other habits of use, don’t we? How can it be otherwise?

* I agree wholeheartedly, Luke. And the ‘wholeheartedly’ is important, too, because it’s not necessarily when we can release/cease the unhelpful self-beliefs that we begin to flow better in our self, but when we simply drop the judgements about having the beliefs in the first place; giving ourself our whole-heart. I work in both arenas as one all the time now.

* You can’t address someone’s posture without addressing their emotional state. And many postural habits make people feel emotionally safer, and that need to feel safe needs to be respected.

* Luke, I mused and mulled more over what you say in your first post, and find it very interesting, and worth while to ask the questions you ask. It is a bit like me asking myself – and others sometimes – what I am really up to when I am doing something. What am I really up to right now, pulling my shoulders up and typing on that keyboard? I mean, apart from typing, pulling up my shoulders, and responding to your post, what am I really up to? And I find that I am in a desperate hurry to get my word in! Hence the pulling up of shoulders…. Your questions are definitely worth asking and considering.

* The Law of Correspondence was a statement that the inner and the outer are reflections of one another. But like musical notes, the same tone played in a different moment, or with different companion notes, could be part of a different effect. Having feelings is not an imperfection.

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