A familiar and painful emotion I feel frequently is shame.
It got instilled in me early in life that I was bad. That I didn’t measure up. That I was a real rotter. I was letting everyone down. I was selfish and slovenly.
I learned to talk to myself in this harsh way and to others.
Surprisingly, that didn’t make me popular. It seemed that most people did not enjoy it when I turned my scathing sensibility on their weak points.
After a lot of age, a lot of failure, a lot of psycho-therapy and Alexander Technique, I’m starting to talk to myself in a more gentle way.
I notice that some of my students beat themselves up continuously. It’s a stuck pattern of self-abuse. They don’t lack for good advice but all the imperatives they’re hearing aren’t enabling them to live on a higher plane.
Jennifer Mackerras, an Alexander Technique teacher in Bristol, England, writes:
In my teaching room, I have a cupboard. It has two main uses. Firstly, it stows my computer away out of sight. This is its practical use. But it has a far more important function than that.
It stores all of my students’ sticks.
Sticks? I hear you ask.
Yes, sticks. The sticks they beat themselves up with.
Obviously I don’t mean actual physical sticks. I’m talking about something far more insidious, though just as damaging. I am talking about the things that people believe about themselves and say to me during their lessons.
“I have such terrible posture.”
“I sit really badly.”
“My right leg is okay. But my left leg is really bad.”
“I know that my walking isn’t good, but there’s nothing I can do to make it better.”
“If my furniture at work was better, I wouldn’t have this neck pain.”