“Pity me that the heart is slow to learn, What the swift mind beholds at every turn.” Emily Dickenson seems to state profound truths in a few short words. I wish I could do the same!
On days when I get out of my own way (what a lovely concept!), the world seems to permit serendipitous insights and I see truths that exist around me all the time. Today is just such a day.
Paying attention to the role of the unconscious in personal motivations, is a current interest, particularly how it applies to the corset waist-training students whom I coach from time to time. As much as I try to flesh out a solid picture of the personality, personal motivations and disposition, history, and genetic background of someone who wants to enter my waist-training program, I cannot predict with certainly how the student will fare. Sometimes I can’t predict accurately if they will complete the program. More surprising to me, some pay their registration fee then choose not to even begin the program! Often I suspect those actions have to do with unresolved childhood experiences including fear and anger, but not much with anything that can be rationally identified or understood on my part or theirs. Because of that understanding and before any student begins a program, I advise that sometime during training they may want to quit, and suggest they be ready to overcome that natural tendency, even if it is irrational. I advise that both corset construction and waist training are not matters of perfect predictability, much less “perfection.” See also this page.
I’ve learned a lot about the unconscious in Dr. John Sarno’s excellent book, The Divided Mind. Last weekend I learned even more in an SF Chronicle’s Sunday book review of Prof. Martha Nussbaum’s new book, The Monarchy of Fear.
Dr. Sarno says that patients can develop new health-related symptoms and experience chronic pain due to the unconscious, and suppressed anger (to which I would add, fear). Prof. Nussbaum says that infantile helplessness and vulnerability can predispose us to various ways of coping. She says that childhood is an inherently terrifying time with a steep ascent toward maturity and its glimmer of social hope. Frightened citizens can become “indifferent to truth” she says.
I note that students who fail to pursue waist training, seem indifferent to truth. Some even stop communicating entirely, preventing their further learning, and heading off their potential success. In that case, failure in waist training becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thus, I have had to recognize that when I respond to perceived student hesitancy with facts, I may be only partially successful. Even when I present many facts and figures, actual student, corsetiere, and my experiences and statistics, the student must first conquer his or her fears both conscious and unconscious, in order to proceed. They need to accept advice, and understand that corseting and waist training are not sciences. They must accept that generally (but not always) waist training has the best results with three prongs of effort: long hours of snug corset wear (not short periods of extreme tightness), plus corset-friendly specific nutrition practices, and waist-targeted exercising.
Sometimes corset wear is not even the key element. Some students have an excellent nutrition program in place but need to focus on specific exercises. Some need nutrition help.
In the end, those students who have been able to embrace flexibility, anxiety, and ambiguity, plus not demand certainty and perfection in corset fit, construction, or tightness, have demonstrated the most waist training success.
But in today’s anxious world of striving and suffering (see prior blogs), certitude is often demanded to reduce internal conflict. Nussbaum says many today prefer “the comfort of a leader who gives them a womb-like feeling of safety,” and they may “become aggressive against others, blaming them for the pain of fear.” I wonder if she has put her finger on a key reason for the widespread snarkiness on social media today? Anger seems pervasive.
We live in a world of so-called experts who thrive on giving us pat answers so that we don’t have to do the hard work of tolerating anxiety and not knowing. Some don’t want to learn along the way from experience and they don’t respect fact-based experience.
For anyone considering waist training, it behooves them to consider the possibility that their unconscious might try to defeat the pursuit. It might throw up hidden resistance to proceeding, even if they have thoroughly researched the topic and chosen a highly experienced guide or partner, one who generally can be trusted.
Moving forward despite one’s imagined disappointments, fears, and doubts, can help not only achieve successful waist training, but also be successful in future pursuits in many arenas where ambiguity inheres, and where individual endeavor dictates uncertainty in the process and the results.