Posturing

Why is my posture bad? Years of lugging heavy backpacks full of hardbound textbooks could be to blame. Maybe it’s just how my body is. I lean forward for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s the ambition and the desire to “lean in” to what I need to do. Sometimes, I can’t hear people and I feel the need to extend my neck so my ears are closer to the source of the sound. But as I lean out, I also shrink back. Standing up tall is dangerous, leaves you more vulnerable.

By myself, it’s easy to correct the posture. I stand up, straighten the shoulders, and consciously deny myself the luxury of a slouch. When I walk in this manner, it feels unnatural. Because now I have to look and see what’s in front of me. I have to face the person, place, or thing in my way. Most of the time, I don’t want to. It’s easier just to lower the shoulders, turn the neck down toward the floor, and decrease the gap of space between my chin and chest.

Walking with the correct posture also necessitates pushing the chest out. To me, it feels like a weird way to walk. Why would I want to puff my chest out? Who am I fooling? I’m not strong–physically or otherwise. I feel like I’m trying to be Superman whenever I walk this way. It’s a little silly. But I’ve been told that’s the correct posture.

Then, there’s the feet. A long time ago, my parents noticed that I had a tendency to step inward, feet towards each other, as I walked. I don’t know if there’s a term for this, but it was quickly corrected with shoes that covered the ankles. These high-top shoes allowed me to walk straight, further helping my posture. These days, I haven’t cared enough to note how my feet naturally position themselves as I walk. I don’t have any high-top shoes.

We can point to all the physical habits or genetics that cause poor posture. I wonder if maybe there’s also a psychosomatic cause as well. Someone with confidence is more likely to stand up with level shoulders. The body’s posture often follows the internal conditions. I mean, we can even use animals as proof. A dog’s tail between its legs communicates fear or submission. Conversely, a wagging tail is an undeniable physical sign of an excited state.

Fear and submission. Actually, those words are apt. I’ve carried heavy books in backpacks for years, but I don’t think they’ve weighed me down quite like fear and submission. My entire life, I’ve learned to shut up, cocoon myself, break off from the others, and shrink into myself whenever life became uncomfortable. Again, to stand up with a good posture is to face everything. My body follows how I feel on the inside. Therefore, slouching was always a subconscious norm. I adapted to fear and submission so easily that my physical reaction was just built-in.

Slouching has never felt like a decision. In the long run, I know it’s not healthy. I would benefit from a better default posture. But the reason I adapted to life with the slouch was because it was how I coped with fear. Sure, you could blame my years of video-gaming or being in front of a computer. But I see my lack of a spine, saturation of unnecessary apologies, people-pleasing, and inability to show my true self for fear of rejection as the primary reasons why my posture isn’t that great. My posture represents my surrender to fear. Submission is safer than resistance.

When you slouch and keep your neck down, you shrink. Your body’s posture, in a sense, almost mirrors what an armadillo does to protect itself. Roll up and shrink down so there’s less of you to attack. Granted, I’m not afraid of physical blows, but the body and mind react to cover all possibilities. That’s why anxiety is so terrible–your body reacts as if your very life is in danger when it’s usually not.

I look down to the floor, sometimes even as I talk to people. I don’t have to see them to tell them something. Looking someone in the eye can be tough. And it’s hard to know how you look as you look at someone. Are my eyes too intense? Can they see my emotions through my eyes? Do I subconsciously have the “crazy eyes” look? Do I just make people uncomfortable by looking at them? You know, I’d rather not know. The floor doesn’t judge me. My phone doesn’t judge me. The only beings capable of judging me have their own pair of eyes, eyes that can communicate judgement without words.

I don’t want to see that.

I’d like a good posture for my physical health. And maybe there’s some merit to trying to correct one’s posture even if one doesn’t feel as confident as their gait may appear. Kinda like fake it til you make it? I don’t know if that works, but it may be worth a try again. I also want to say that, sometimes in my life, I’m able to stand tall. And it’s not always physically. Sometimes, it’s just recognizing my inner worth, my value, my talents, and any good I have contributed. Maybe I’ll never have a great posture, but I can always maintain a healthier mind.

Published by cherrynorthern

Hello! My name is Cherry Northern. This is clearly a real name.

3 thoughts on “Posturing

  1. Thanks for such an interesting post that looks at the interrelationship between emotional and physical health (if it can even be distinguished as separate). I relate to this a lot, also having a slouch. It can reinforce self-consciousness, esteem issues and fears.

    I relate to not feeling right when standing tall but, perhaps, if we can be compassionate with ourselves, as you suggest, we can treat is as simply a well-being and health issue? I suppose weaker posture and muscles can increase likelihood of injuries.

    I relate to your instinct. Faking it till I make it often doesn’t feel the right approach to me, often. Perhaps, it’s because the gap between fake and me is so large? Perhaps, a more gradual approach is needed for some of us?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad this post resonated with you. As you pointed out, the imperfect posture only seems to reinforce anxiety and self-esteem issues. But then, the anxiety and self esteem issues reinforce the slouch. It’s a vicious cycle. Sometimes, you just need to throw a wrench into the negativity, and that’s where faking it til you make it might help. How much it helps is still something I question. I do think that going from 0 to 100 (from an anxiety state to suddenly faking boundless confidence with no fear) is either impossible or harmful in the long run. Like you said, maybe a gradual approach (“I’m not perfect, but I’m doing this well enough despite my anxiety”) is what we need. It’s also an extension of the compassion we need to show ourselves. It’s definitely something to ponder.

      Liked by 1 person

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