I’ve had therapists tell me to be a friend to myself, to be gentle with myself.
I understood what they were saying, but I had a hard time practicing it. I was filled with too much self-loathing.
While I practiced contemptuous behavior towards myself, I inevitably practiced the same kind of contempt on others, socially isolating myself, and increasing my downward spiral.
I think we treat others as we treat ourselves. If we’re kind to ourselves, we’re more likely to be kind to others.
Anyway, I was sick all weekend but felt strong enough Monday to return to my Alexander Technique training. And as I was leaving the training, I phoned a girl and said, “I’m going to be gentle with myself this afternoon.”
For the first time in my life, I understood what I was saying. By getting my head-neck relationship right and realigning my use, I’ve come to feel at home in my body. I don’t talk as compulsively anymore. I’m quieter and more tranquil. And I have easier access to my softer emotions.
I was reading this book the other day on the Alexander Technique by a teacher who was working with a teenage boy.
After a few lessons, the boy said, “If I keep taking lessons, will I stop playing football and instead join the band?”
The teacher said, “Only if that is what you really want to do.”
The boy followed up, “There’s this kid next door and every day I feel compelled to beat him up.”
After more lessons, the boy stopped beating up the kid next door. He quit football and joined the band.
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “That guy walks around with a chip on his shoulder.”
That’s been me.
When you walk around with a chip on your shoulder, that reflects itself in your posture. You’re pulled down, clenched and ready to fight. When you let go of this downward pressure and let go of your clenching, you can go up to a better place.
In my experience, lessons in Alexander Technique inevitably lead to greater tranquility, a more diffuse awareness of the world around you, and more access to your feelings. You no longer have to react out of habit.