by Jennifer Rudinsky
We each play a lot of roles in life. Some of the roles are obvious – Older sister, baby brother, only child, spouse, parent, colleague, community member, employee, boss. Others are less evident – mr/ms/mx, dependable, spendthrift, problem-solver, jokester, rebel (with or without a cause), care-taker, hero, peace-maker. Many of the roles overlap, while others might shift in and out of focus with your setting or location. Some roles are assigned to us by others, some we volunteer for and others are a weird combination of the two. Regardless of the role and how it came to be, all of them make it possible for us to interact with other human beings. They help establish and or reinforce norms and expectations for being and doing vis a vis one another.
But what if a role results in us feeling depleted or constrained? Maybe we’ve out grown it and it no longer fits or performs the same function as it did when you first acquired it. What then? Are we stuck with it? Not necessarily.
While you may always be the youngest sibling (biological fact) it doesn’t mean you’re doomed to spend the rest of your life being the “baby.” But changing a role takes work. It will require you to do new things, make other choices, establish new boundaries or hold neglected ones. In short, you’ll be required to show up differently in your interactions with other people.
What this has to do with boxing? My response: SHADOWBOXING.
Shadowboxing is all about storytelling. It provides an opportunity for you to play out whatever story is most alive in a very physical form. And because all stories have characters (i.e. roles), shadowboxing give you a chance to interact with those others on your terms. For example, in your story, are you retreating, always on the defensive with specific people in your life? How does that show up in the stance you take, in the pattern of your footwork, or in the punches you choose to throw or not throw? What would it feel like if you changed up your boxing style or role in this story? Your shadowbox is a great way for you to find out as it allows you the space to explore different personas.
Instead of being the one who pulls back, you can use your shadowbox to tap into your inner brawler and see how that transforms the story you tell yourself. How does your body react? Where in your body is the resistance to this new way of being? Through your shadowbox practice, you have the ability to practice new patterns and shift your thinking, both inside and outside of the ring.