I’m Frustrated. You want to know why?
Hell if I know!
When it comes to emotions, we might say the only thing that’s frustrating is frustration! Therefore, when it comes to the emotional impact of massage, we might say our first concern is often the relief of frustration.
Anger itself doesn’t feel bad at all. It floods our muscles with blood, readying us for action. Frustration on the other hand seems to also involve the mind – we tell ourselves, or it may actually be the case, that we want something to happen that we can’t make happen.
Sources of frustration can be found all over – Democrats, Republicans or both, climate change, work that feels meaningless sometimes, world hunger, pessimism about the future, social isolation, valuing of profit over deeper human fulfillment, disease, bad habits like over-eating, under-sleeping, body pain, dietary indiscretion, etc.
The serenity prayer is fine…but WTF!,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr)
The global interconnected world has given rise to a perhaps unreasonable but courageous hope that, given time and energy, we can change everything. Not in one lifetime. To paraphrase Sam Keen, anything you can accomplish in just one lifetime is perhaps not too important.
How may massage therapy and bodywork help with frustration? How can we affect this psychic pain-spasm-pain cycle?
- We help relieve the muscle tension of actions that have been held in check.
- The pleasure of our touch overrides the pain of frustration.
- The quality of our touch – through well-chosen rhythm, pressure, and flow – helps calm the mind, both the conscious and the unconscious.
- The sympathetic nervous system tends to experience frustration as a matter of life or death. A good massage will generally restore balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic sides of the nervous system.
- With relaxation we may be able to better identify what the precise source of our problem is.
- Often it helps restore perspective – “This is actually not that big of a deal.”
- The relaxation of the frustration may help precipitate an “aha” experience – “This is what I can do about that!”
- The connection with another person through touch reminds us we are not just alone in this world.
- When we are treated with highest personal regard, we tend to realize and remember – we each have the inner resources we need to resolve our problems.
Andrew Taylor Still said the body contains all the healing resources it needs. His “Law of the Artery” recognizes the body’s self-healing capacity. This capacity holds true not just for body, but also for mind and emotions. With access to inner (and sometimes some outer resources) we can get what we need and want.
As therapists we often just remind people that they have the power.