This past summer, while taking a class to learn a new hobby, I was made aware of my body positioning. During this class, each of the participants were working one-on-one with instructors to learn body movements and timing. As I watched my classmates practice the sequence, an instructor asked if I had hit my shoulder during my turn. Surprised by the question I immediately said no and looked down to realize that I had been standing with both of my arms crossed over my chest, holding my shoulders. After recognizing the oddness of my stance I immediately explained that I didn’t hurt my shoulder and that I was just standing like that because I was uncomfortable… even as the words came out of my mouth I knew I had made another weird statement.
I was made aware of this body positioning again a couple of days later at my Rose and Ivan’s (best friends) house. While sitting on their couch they asked if I was feeling okay, as I said yes I looked down and realized I was again in a form of my “protective stance” sitting with a single arm wrapped over my chest, holding my shoulder.
Ever since these two incidents, I have paid more attention to my body positioning and I think that when I am overwhelmed in some manner, I unknowingly position my body this way as a way to “protect” myself. This positioning seems to be a way to self-soothe.
- In the classroom: A new physical setting surrounded by people 20 people I did not know with additional people coming in and being introduced every 10/15 minutes.
- At Rose & Ivan’s house: The week had been stressful with work, learning a new hobby, and my romantic life.
In both of these instances, I was experiencing some variation of overwhelm/overstimulation and was unknowingly self-soothing. I found this discovery to be quite interesting and have found myself standing in that position multiple times since then.
I think my next step is to try using this technique consciously when I can feel myself starting to get overwhelmed or overstimulated to see if it can help before I want to simply shut down.
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