Responsibility, pressure, stress. It’s just part of everyday life as an adult, part of getting older, right? We have a house, job, family, loved ones who are getting older and needing our help. Natural, then, that our shoulders are permanently stiff, aching, or we just can’t lift them as far we used to. Normal for us to have to adjust the way we get out of bed, the type of exercise we do, or not.
Thanks to amazing people like Joe Dispenza proving those theories wrong, in addition to my own experience, that of my husband and my clients, I wholeheartedly disagree.
I’m coming across so many people of a similar age (sadly, also many younger) who are experiencing severe shoulder and back pain. Who truly believe that it’s just normal to experience pressure and pain as we get older. And that’s it, end of story.
Having practised energy work and feeling healthier than I’ve ever felt for the last 17 years, I was happy to be the anomaly (I’m not bragging, read my About Me page to find out more).
And then I had an ‘accident’ (I don’t believe much in accidents, which is why I’ve used speech marks) this time last year.
The simple truth is that I’ve had tense shoulders for as long as I can remember. Every exercise class I’ve been to, the teacher has always told me to drop and relax my shoulders during a posture. Literally, every time. I just thought it was normal.
Until the pain I was in every time I moved a certain way, stopped me from doing one of the things I enjoy most. Something that helps me switch off and think of relaxing holidays; no pressure, no responsibilities, just calm and contentment – swimming. This might not seem to be a big deal for most, but for me, it’s THE most enjoyable exercise I do. So, I don’t find it paradoxical at all that that is far from how I’ve felt for a long time in particular over the past year.
Today was the first day I swam without being in pain. It felt like a miracle.
How did I do it?
Of course, there’s no magic formula. It was one of life’s lessons, teaching me to let go of that feeling of pressure that I’ve put on myself for as long as I can remember, to which I added a lot of responsibility (of being the perfect mum) when kids came along.
I was treated (and it did feel like such a treat when I had a lot going on) by an amazing acupuncturist for a while. He told me shoulder pain is actually quite classic for women of my age (!he doesn’t mince his words!!). The treatment felt good, for a while. The pain didn’t go away, I had my own inner work to do.
I’ve spend the last six months becoming conscious of the responsibilities I shoulder, many of which I now realise are so unnecessary. I’ve made day to day choices to let go and give back responsibilities. On the self-care side, I’ve cut down on my working hours, taken more time out for me. Physically I’ve started doing gentle strengthening work at the gym, returned to yoga and even treated myself to a couple of one to one sessions concentrating on shoulder strengthening.
It’s taken effort and hasn’t always been easy. I’ve noticed resistance show up on more than one occasion, procrastination on taking action several more times, because it felt like the easier option at the time. But the desire to swim again, without pain, kept me focussed.
The other day I did this visualisation exercise, which for me, felt like one of the last few pieces of the puzzle. If you feel like you’re carrying a lot on your shoulders or your back, why not try this now or in a comfortable, quiet spot.
Releasing responsibility and pressure visualisation
- Tune into your shoulders or back. You may like to close your eyes.
- Do they feel heavy or stiff (use your own words). Try wriggling them a little bit. Gently move your neck side to side.
- Imagine the container that the weight on your shoulders or back is in. For me, it was a rucksack. It can be whatever you like, we’re just playing.
- Imagine what form the pressure/weight/responsibility takes. For me it was boulders, loads of them, some old and covered in mildew, so heavy that actually, it felt like I couldn’t lift them by myself. And yet, I’d been carrying them on my shoulders. What do yours feel like?
- Are there any that – honestly please – feel like they don’t belong there?
- Who do they belong to? Take your time. Breathe.
- Imagine just giving one back. If you don’t feel like you can (give it back), ask yourself why? You could tap through the resistance, or just imagine returning it to sender as a gift, with a lovely bright bow on it, to make it easier to give it back. This may be hard to process, but if it belongs to someone else, is it really yours to carry? We often learn from a young age to feel responsible. But you’re not that little girl or boy anymore. Maybe it’s finally time to give it back. Maybe it might even help that certain someone feel more empowered if you return it to them. Breathe out as you imagine it going back to sender.
- Notice how your body feels. It may feel lighter, it may feel strange, because you’ve been carrying it for so long. Breathe and try sending yourself some compassion as you let go.
- There may now be a flurry of giving more of those boulders/rocks/bricks back, you may feel that letting go of that one weight is enough for now. Maybe that’s all there was in the container. Breathe and take as much time as you need.
- When you feel ready, wriggle your shoulders and tune in to how you’re feeling. Imagine a colour going to your shoulders to help them to relax.
- Open your eyes, feel the ground beneath your feet and bring yourself back to this present moment.
Repeat this exercise as many times as you like. You may like to try some journaling afterwards.
I hope this helps you, I’ll be offering an audio of this in the future. If you’d like one sooner, let me know and I’ll make sure you get it when it’s released.
If you’d like some help in guiding you to let go of some of those feelings of pressure, I’m here to help. Just book your free initial telephone consultation.
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Because you deserve to feel and be amazing, no matter what time of life you’re at.
Sent with love. Andrea xx