Apparently, my shoulder wants to do all the work itself, without anyone's help.
Yup, that sounds about right.
I have lived from that place of muscling through a fair amount over the years. Sometimes it just seems easier to grit my teeth and bear it rather than asking for help. In the case of childbirth (literally bearing it!), I had no patience for taking my time and taking it easy. The pushing stage of labor lasted for less than forty minutes each time (though in my daughter’s case we never got that far and she was a c-section). Muscling through pretty much sums up my go-to when things get hard.
Sometimes it’s couched as, “If I want something done well, I’ll do it myself.” The reality more often than not is that it isn’t about it not being done well enough; it’s about not being in control. That felt like the message from my shoulder this morning, “Hey, listen folks, I’ve been running this ship for a while now; I know what I’m doing and if you don’t mind, I’ll keep doing it my way.”
It would be easy for me to jump to critique here - give myself a hard time for having controlling tendencies, but I think my practitioner was onto something when she articulated the shoulder’s response to her suggestions. My shoulder and I have come by these tendencies honestly, as a means for taking care of something. It’s not necessarily my job to completely get rid of them (and the likelihood is slim, considering how long such habits have been in place).
What I can do, however, is acknowledge what they have been taking care of. For my shoulder - it’s been heavy lifting and carrying. For my controlling tendencies - they’ve helped me meet expectations, bolstering feelings of worth and being deserving of love.
Holding these tendencies in awareness and accepting them as having served a purpose helps me to be less hostile toward myself. I can explore other ways of being. I can notice my shoulder overworking itself, and I can ask my lats and hips to help out. I can practice showing vulnerability by asking for help; I can see myself as worthy and lovable just as I am; I can practice letting go.
A metaphor that I introduce often in coaching is applicable here. If my conditioned response (ie. wanting to control) is a fist that is taking care of something, holding it and keeping it safe, I can try to pry my fingers open to get my fist to relax. Or I can simply hold my fist, not ask it to be anything else, just hold it lovingly with my other hand. It will likely soften.
It feels like the Tai Chi of self-acceptance. Coming back, again and again; accepting myself, again and again; accepting the moment, again and again.
Beginning again, again and again.
What message might your body have for you today? How might you be present to that message and hold yourself with compassion? What could that look like?
Jessica Curtis is a professional life coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.