Question: Is there a connection between a person’s attitude and their structural problems?
Answer: Yes, there is a connection between a person’s emotional experiences, attitudes and beliefs and their postures and structural patterns. For example, when a young child is disciplined by a parent, the result can be something called a survival posture. When a child responds to the stimuli around him, especially what he perceives as threats, real or imagined, this results in a certain postural memory. I have had more than a few clients with a forward head posture and raised and rounded shoulders (“The Turtle”), relating to how they endured threats of physical or psychological abuse growing up.
If a child is raised with the old homely that “Children should be seen and not heard” and it’s repeated with enough frequency and conviction, the child will often have chronic tension in the neck and throat. In addition, the same jaw muscles involved in TMJ will become shortened as the child struggles to suppress speaking his truth.
If this response is repeated often enough, or the triggering threat is intense enough, the fascial sheets that wrap around the muscles will shorten. As a result, the child will carry this fixed “survival” posture every waking moment into his adult life. So, when he experiences threats in his adult life that feel similar to the original threat he experienced as a child, his range of responses is limited and anchored by his “frozen” posture.
To correct this problem, a person might use interventions such as psychotherapy, Family Constellations and shamanic soul retrieval. However, without addressing the chronic postural and structural distortions that embody the person’s issue(s), the results may not be complete.
With a strategy such as Structural Integration, aka: Rolfing, the goal is to bring the body back into alignment and create structural patterns that are actually open and supportive of new choices. New choices not only in how you might respond emotionally when triggered, but in what kind of breathing you can access in stressful circumstances.
As a personal example, as a child and into early adulthood, I had a condition termed hyper-extended knees. So, as I was standing, the knees didn’t stand at the plumb line of my body. They bent backwards. As a result, my body was trying to compensate for this major imbalance.
When I went through my first ten sessions of structural integration work, I came to an awareness that my hyper-extended knee condition was deeply rooted in a childhood experience of a feeling that I didn’t have a leg to stand on, and I was a push-over. Literally, I couldn’t stand in my own authority.
The opposite of this condition could be a person who feels superior to others and walks around with his or her chest expanded, or puffed out and possibly with a rigid “military neck.” This person is subconsciously exclaiming that they are superior to everyone else. Yet, deep inside they actually feel inferior to the world around them, and this impression they are trying to give, is simply an attempt to mask their feelings of inferiority.
Again, to correct this problem, a person might use additional methods of intervention such as psychotherapy, Family Constellations, and a ten session Rolf structural integration process. Using a synergy of multiple mind-body processes can offer the greatest and speediest path to rewriting our old life stories.