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Quote of the Month: January 2015

by Ellen on January 16th, 2015

“Self-pity needs to give way to self-accusation.”

~Attributed to Alexander by Walter Carrington in the Foreword to Body Learning by Michael Gelb

It’s a new year, and for many that means time for resolutions, for enthusiastic statements about grand sweeping changes to be made to their lifestyle. I’ve recently started reading Body Learning by Michael Gelb, a book I’ve been wanting to read for years. In the Foreword by Walter Carrington, I found this little nugget of wisdom attributed to Alexander.

This is one of those quotes that can easily be misconstrued, because like many of Alexander’s statements the language can seem harsher than was probably intended. In this case, the idea of “self-accusation” can seem harsh, but I believe that rather than blaming oneself for everything that goes wrong, Alexander is simply saying that at some point, we need to take control of our decisions and acknowledge that we do have the power to change things we don’t like about our life.

This quote immediately reminded me of a decision I made last summer – removing “hopefully” from my vocabulary. I had begun to notice that when journalling about my thoughts, or talking to others about how my businesses were going, I had a tendency to use the word “hopefully” a lot. “Hopefully I’ll get more students,” “Hopefully such-and-such will happen,” “Hopefully I’ll be able to do this-that-or-the-other.” I didn’t like how powerless it made me feel, how inactive it sounded. I’ve never liked the idea of just “hoping” for something to happen, and the nature of the Technique in particular made it seem like direct marketing wasn’t very effective in actually gaining me more students. A student has to want to come for lessons, so all the marketing in the world isn’t really going to convince anyone who doesn’t already see the need for it. You can do your marketing, and then you just sort of hope that it works. I didn’t like that.

When you get right down to it, that sort of marketing is basically just end-gaining. What I needed was a means-whereby. I needed to stop hoping something would happen, and start making choices and taking actions that might eventually cause it to happen on its own. In the case of the “getting more students” problem, I decided to double-down on something I’d been slacking off on for a while: these blog posts! I figured that doing regular posts would be a way for me to stay involved, keep learning and expanding my own experience with the Technique, and give potential students a sense of my personality and how I work and think about the Technique. It would also keep me near the top of any online search results, since new content would be added regularly to the site. Further, the end-of-the-month book reviews were a way of tying in my Continuing Education hours. The decision to write regularly came from a place of self-accusation – there’s no point in just hoping for something when there IS something I can do, it’s just an indirect approach – which happens to be much more in tune with the Technique in the first place!

So this year, as you make your resolutions, think about this; my non-rhetorical question of the day: where are you self-pitying where you could be self-accusing?

Forward and Up! is a Pittsburgh-based private practice offering quality instruction in the Alexander Technique in a positive and supportive environment.

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