Elegance is a feeling, a state of the body. Straight back, shoulders slightly back, head held high and a strong core.
It took me a long time to become embodied in elegance. My go-to position was slumped forward, shoulders hunched over. A position of internalized shame, doubt, not being able to find confidence in myself.
I always had a sense of wanting to be smaller than my frame. People expressed their surprise when I straightened once in a while:
“Oh, you’re tall!”
I am tall. 6′ 2″. A broad frame. I could never own this frame because part of me hated being a big guy in a world where big men had dominated and hurt so many. The residual hurt was evident in many. They treated me wearily, with suspicion.
I wanted to be small, to fit in. Part of my story was hiding from the world.
I realize now that that suspicion was partly to do with my energetic state, the shadows left unresolved in me. Somehow others could tell I was volatile, that I didn’t know myself fully, I couldn’t hold my history or frame. I was always projecting it onto others.
I wasn’t physically violent like most men who struggle with their emotions, because of the violence of the trauma I went through. Yet, I did use ways to manipulate, control, and intimidate to ensure my safety. A classic narcissistic tendency that I’d learned as an effective coping mechanism.
It’s so easy to control people into silence through shame, judgment, blame, and criticism. Celebrated in parenting. An easy way to get your child to behave. Now I see it only breeds further problems down the line.
Education, choice, and collaboration is the way to ensure dignity with another. To work out an agreement between two people who feel differently about something.
In a way, I was working this out for myself. Through the trauma, I disconnected from my body. I don’t use that as an excuse for my behavior, I had to forgive myself for all the people I mistreated, I am seeking them out to apologize wherever possible. It’s a fact. I didn’t know my body or my history.
The archetypal journey is so fascinating to me. For a man, the archetypes are:
If you don’t understand how these archetypes manifest in your reality, they’ll come through in shadow behavior. It requires you to journey into that understanding.
A manipulating, conniving, tyrant. The addicted lover. The weakling who capitulates to others needs and then gets frustrated and resentful.
Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette lay this out in their book: ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the mature masculine.’
I find this interesting. For each Archetype, there’s boy psychology which needs to grow into a man. The boy informs the man. The boy psychology (in relation to the order above) is:
- The divine child
- The hero
- The precocious child
- The oedipal child
Each boy psychology has its own set of shadow sides. The know-it-all trickster and the dummy are the precocious child’s shadows, which is related to the magician. The coward and the grand bully, related to the hero. The mama’s boy and the dreamer related to the oedipal child. The high-chair tyrant and the weakling prince related to the divine child.
We have been cultured to celebrate the hero; in fact, most stories in history are written around the hero’s journey. We see many of the shadows of the coward and the bully in our societies.
A narrow narrative that doesn’t take into account initiation into elderhood. We are missing pieces of our collective story.
So, why do I talk about this in context to elegance?
Elegance is standing with all of my story, owning it, and standing tall amongst it. Embodying that and still being able to hold your head up high and say: “This is me, I’m not perfect, and I’m confident in myself.”
In this article, I discussed that confidence is full trust in your abilities, qualities, and judgements. No more, no less.
So forgiveness is essential to get to elegance, knowing that any mistakes and wrongdoings were a part of the journey to understanding; that everyone acts within their ability at any one time. Being responsible for these actions is essential. Equally, forgiving yourself is vital if you want to embody elegance.
I found part of my core energy very heavy around my chest. It pulled me forward into the slump. I was training in somatic awareness, holding myself up in the elegant position and practising walking around in this way, doing my daily routine. I found that this core slumping feeling awoke in me once more. It was related to implicit memories in my body, around doubt and not believing in myself.
I curiously explored those feelings. They tied to memories I was holding onto from childhood, which needed to surface to see, heal and integrate into my story.
I needed to see my talents, celebrate them. Understand my experiences, process them.
I found it very challenging to embody elegance at the start. My body felt uneasy, nauseous and unsteady. My energy was unstable.
Over six months, I’ve been doing this work on elegance, my core energy in my chest has changed. A few days ago, I had a conversation with a close friend. We hugged twice in this in-depth conversation about our individual histories. The second time we hugged it was a long, safe and warm embrace. I felt something shift energetically in my chest. I don’t feel the need to slump as often now. I can feel myself wanting to hold my body elegantly and being able to do so easily. It’s a relief to me to know this. I know I’ve put the hard work in and achieved something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
There’s the added bonus that I inspire people with this posture and the story behind it. It’s proof that taking the deep dive into the unconscious has real and life-changing benefits.
I feel more myself than ever before. People around me say that I look younger every time they see me. I translate this into the fact that I feel more myself than ever before; my body is changing and adapting to who I am. I’ve called my soul back into my body. I never felt this feeling before, a partnership between body and soul. It’s really wonderful!
What are your challenging and inspiring experiences around elegance?
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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Photo credit: Grigore Ricky on Unsplash