Why are some people so resistant to taking responsibility for their own health?
The expectation is for someone else to "fix" them. So much of what ails us is down to the way we use ourselves; locked in tension and poor posture can affect breathing, digestion, stress response, musculoskeletal pain, as well as performance in sports and hobbies. In addition poor 'use' can exacerbate other medical issues and get in the way of the natural healing process. Only you can change the way you use yourself. An Alexander Technique (AT) teacher can guide you and help you to become more aware of how you use yourself, but ultimately you need to get in the driving seat.
Fear of change is why I think people look to others to fix them. They want to get better, but they don't want to change! How is that even logically possible? Change is uncomfortable, often emotionally so. The familiar is so inviting, it's "home". But that doesn't mean it's a safe place. It's almost as if Stockholm Syndrome is being played out inside of us. Can you recognise that paradox within you?
Do you self identify with your current style of thinking or the words that run through your mind? Afraid that change will mean you're no longer yourself? Are you the same person you were at 10? 20? 30? Would you even want to be? To improve you need to embrace change. And yet counter-intuitively, that change will lead you to being more yourself, undoing unhelpful habits and revealing your truer nature. You'll find yourself in the spaces between those words running through your mind!
Your muscles only do what the central nervous system guides them to do, both directly and indirectly, the brain being the primary active component. So to relieve tension and aches and pains you need to change your thinking. Not what you think about, but the quality of your awareness. A busy and overactive mind will lead to a busy and overactive nervous system, causing you to do overdo all your movements with too much effort and tension. And more directly, becoming aware of how you are performing any given activity. How you sit, how you stand, how you run, how you push the buggy or carry your child. All your daily activities can be performed with greater natural support from your body. Embodied mindfulness is the game here, and that requires the openness to allow change to happen. You can't force these things, but little by little, as you work on changing your thinking, you'll find yourself more aware of how you are using yourself and choose an easier, freer way to be.
Change is the only constant. It's the only thing that will lead you to improvement. Why not be the agent of that change?
Let me leave you with this extract from James Harvey Robinson's book The Mind in the Making. Robinson was a historian who took AT lessons with F.M.Alexander, the founder of the technique.
We sometimes find ourselves changing our minds without any resistance or heavy emotion, but if we are told that we are wrong we resent the imputation and harden our hearts. We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposes to rob us of their companionship. It is obviously not the ideas themselves that are dear to us, but our self-esteem, which is threatened. We are by nature stubbornly pledged to defend our own from attack, whether it be our person, our family, our property, or our opinion.
Few of us take the pains to study the origin of our cherished convictions; indeed, we have a natural repugnance to so doing. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
This blog was originally posted here.
The Alexander Technique has been clinically proven for back pain via an NHS funded, gold standard randomised trial. It was performed by Southampton University and their results were published in the British Medical Journal.
It is also endorsed by Backcare.org.uk, a lottery funded organisation.
World wide resource for the Society of Teachers of The Alexander Technique: www.alexandertechnique.co.uk