Why Bother Noticing Tension?
Sometimes we give a bad rap to something that is actually good. Take tension for example. Tension is most often associated with pain; tension headaches, backaches and tense moments between people. But, there is something good that comes from tension, if we take a moment and notice.
Allowing Tension To Change Us
When typing on my computer, I am mostly conscious of my posture; upright spine, shoulders away from my ears, and feet flat on the floor. When I become unconscious of how I am holding my body in space, tension creeps in. I lose my sense of uprightness. My shoulders slump, my spine curls forward, and my creativity begins to wane. I’m not experiencing writer’s block or physical fatigue, just a bit of tension brought on by poor posture. The minute I shift my body back to proper alignment, uprightness, everything flows smoothly again. It’s that simple.
I’ve learned how to use discomfort to my advantage. It is my cue. It alerts me to my need to shift. When my neck cramps, when it feels as though a vice is squeezing my brain, or tense feelings fill up the air between myself and someone else, I know I need to pay attention. Whether it’s my mental or physical alignment, tension tells me I need to rearrange something about myself.
James Baldwin, an American author once said that not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
So how do we know if anything “good” will come out of the tension if we face it? We won’t know until we give it our best shot. Cowering from feelings of distress, avoiding confrontations or disregarding recurring challenges only increases the tension and increased tension only makes us all the more vexed with ourselves and others.
Changing something as simple and obvious as our posture or as subtle and complicated as our emotions does not come easily or quickly. Even in a good novel, it takes the main character a few chapters to morph into something other than what they are into becoming something better by the end of the book. As in a good book, so it goes in the story of our lives. It takes a few pages.
Why bother noticing tension? Tension can force us to look for solutions and change us into a better character before our story ends.