When Things Go Wrong!
Over the last few months I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury. How did it happen? I wish I knew. And as an Alexander Technique teacher that has probably bothered me more than even the pain and the limitations in my range of motion.
Some time last December I became aware of the problem. My left shoulder just didn’t have its full range and wasn’t moving “normally” in some directions. And if I moved my arm in certain ways it was downright painful.
When, despite my best efforts, I finally came to the conclusion in January that it wasn’t getting better, I paid a visit to my doctor, who prescribed physical therapy (I’ll be writing more specifically about this soon). I also engaged the help of another Alexander Technique teacher, and I’m pleased to report that my shoulder issues have improved significantly, and continue to do so. I no longer experience pain, and have made huge gains in my range of motion.
One of the main challenges for me during this episode, however, has been dealing with that nagging, judging voice inside my head saying this like, “You’re an Alexander teacher, this shouldn’t happen to you?” and worse….
Being skilled in the Alexander Technique, however, has been hugely beneficial in my recovery process. In fact, I’m sure some people would be surprised to know I have even been dealing with an injury, as it has really only affected reaching very high and/or behind me – more unusual movements. AND, it has been just as important to use my Alexander skills—in particular the skill of “inhibition” (the act of pausing with awareness and choosing consciously how to respond)—with regard to those sneaky destructive, unhelpful thinking patterns, as it has with the “practical” matter of how I use my shoulder.
Our thoughts are powerful, and yet we do have within us the capacity to choose them.
I recently posted this on my Facebook page…
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
…which seems to sum it up nicely.
Things will go wrong sometimes, and it’s important that we don’t blame ourselves. The two most important steps I took, which could apply to many situations, were:
- Getting professional or outside advice and help. Don’t try and “go it alone.”
- Taking a look at my thinking patterns and choosing those that were constructive and helpful, rather than those that were destructive and unhelpful.
Alexander Technique has been immensely helpful in my recovery process. It’s a great tool for anyone dealing with an injury. It’s important, however, to remember that it is not a panacea. Alexander Technique is a set of skills that you learn, which, while preventative, do not, of course, guarantee never feeling pain or having problems ever again. We are all human, after all! Alexander Technique is, however, a powerful tool to have on your side to help you cope when things go wrong, to help you work through challenges as efficiently and mindfully as possible.
Have you had challenges you’ve had to face and tools which have helped you? How about the Alexander Technique? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
I am sorry to hear about your shoulder! Thank you for writing about the role of thinking in the healing process. I have been in Physical Therapy since January with a frozen shoulder, and initially I felt like a “bad Alexander Technique student” for having shoulder pain.
My shoulder was eventually diagnosed as a frozen shoulder too (though initially they were thinking possible rotator cuff tear, but I responded so readily to the interventions they quickly adjusted the diagnosis). Sorry you’ve been living with this too, and am hoping you are improving too. An Alexander Technique colleague wrote on my Facebook page:
“Imogen, I had a frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis) shortly after I completed my training and experienced the same frustration. It appears that this happens frequently to women (and less often to men) and no one knows exactly why. It took a cortisone shot and physical therapy to get my full range of motion back. I found the technique an invaluable support in the process.”
I thought you might, like me, find this useful to bear in mind!
Wishing you well for your recovery, Margaret.
I was wondering if you had a frozen shoulder. My PT also said it happens mostly to women. PT has helped immensely, as has pausing and remaining mindful as I do the exercises. There’s a big mirror so I can see if I am pulling myself down. The uncertainty as to why it happened, and what causes it were making me feel worse, and letting those thoughts pass through was helpful.
Yes – mirrors are so useful, aren’t they! And doing my PT exercises with an Alexander Technique teacher has been an added help to me, too. Letting go of negative thoughts crucial, I think 🙂
I fully hear you on this one Imogen. I also suffer from the “this-shouldn’t-happen-to-you” syndrome. I sometimes get back-ache after long hours of work, and knee pain sometimes during strenuous exercise, and my first reaction is to beat myself over the head with my AT diploma. Thanfully, my second reaction is to remind myself that AT is not a cure but a way of “thinking” through my mind-body patterns that helps me recover from injury faster and discover where I’m misusing my energy and resources.
Absolutely! We’re so lucky to have AT to help us deal with those unhelpful reactions! And it’s encouraging to know I’m not the only one that feels that way. Thanks so much for commenting, Victoria.
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