The hunching back and the hopelessness of life

Last Updated on September 19, 2023

A professor that I once took a course in during university had a hunched back and drooping head. When he conducted his lectures, he never looked at us- he always looked down and had conversations with the slides that were displayed on the projector. Even when he walked, his head drooped downwards and his gaze had always been downwards.

He looked defeated. Despite the prestige and job security, the burdens in life that he had to carry with him must be so heavy that it literally weighed his back and head, causing his back to hunch forward. That with a drooping head the burdens got too heavy- the person feels defeated.

Hunched back could also be a manifestation of the emotional pains and burdens that a person is carrying- so much that the back literally buckled under the weight.

At first, I had thought that a hunched back is a structural problem- and my apologies if what I am writing here does not apply to you. But this article is written based on my personal observations on those with a hunched back.

Let’s share a case study- again, this is just an example and not all people with hunched back share similar attributes:

I used to know someone who had a hunched back. No doubt, hunched back is usually attributed to tall people and he is above average in height. But as I also know this person- he is single but have a lot of commitments- he had to earn to pay and support his family, he also bought a house and so need to pay for mortgage. In the job, he was constantly bullied and made to do more because he does not complain (he was worried about losing his job because his family back in his hometown depended on him).

He wanted to settle down but unfortunately do not have much luck in the romance department. And basically, he did not have enough self confidence in himself- as such, he did not dare to make the first move. Also, I am not sure why, he seemed not to be visible. When we are in a group and he wanted to talk about something, no one seemed to hear him or took him seriously. He was frustrated in both his personal and work life.

At first glance, we may feel that life is very unfair for this poor chap. But on further analysis….

At work, he felt bullied and never tried to negotiate with his superiors that his workload was too heavy. Instead, he reluctantly agreed to take on the job but produce very poor quality work. He also complained about his superiors behind their backs and a few times, some tale bearers got the story back to the ears of the superiors. There are important aspects that he need to take into consideration in completing a project but just because he was not given the information, he omitted it on purpose. He did not go to the relevant party to chase for it. That omission causes a huge flaw when the project was delivered- causing negative repercussions and made his managers very angry. Throughout his working life, he did not have the job initiative- and he did his work when he was told or ordered to do. And he wondered why no one appreciated or recognize his efforts. And why others got promoted and he didn’t.

He had been given a number of opportunities- but his overall pessimism caused him to view everything as a burden. “Oh no, another job that is pushed down to him, another burden”. Years of feeling that life is a burden and there is no joy causes his back to eventually hunch.

A lot of people lived a life of hardship and challenges- and yet they had straight strong backs. The difference is because as tough times come, they ‘just face it’ or ‘just do it’. They do not take the time to dwell on their pain and bemoan the unfairness of life.

Some things he could do:

  • Learn to negotiate and reason out with his managers when he is given a task that he could not handle. Most managers are reasonable- after all, the job of the manager is to delegate tasks fairly and properly. If it is too much on the plate, the manager can perhaps take away his certain task or had someone work on the project together with him
  • Take time to enjoy life. Don’t focus on the lack- embrace singlehood- go out and pamper oneself, go for holidays alone. You would be surprised, sometime you can meet someone when you are least looking for him/her.
  • Replace negative with positive thoughts or affirmations. Attend motivational courses or read positive self-help books. Mingle around with positive or successful people and try to learn from them.

If you want to say that a hunched back is a permanent and can’t be reversed, you should see the guy when he dances at parties after a couple of drinks among people that he is comfortable with. During that few hours, he seemed much taller and straighter- I hardly noticed any hunch….and I was sure my eyes were okay since I was sober .

Case study 2- a middle aged man- hunched back and dropping head

Once, there is this very rich man. He feel deeply in love with a woman that he should not have married but they went ahead and married anyway. After over 20 years of a happy married life, he lost his beloved wife to cancer. He remained a widower and never got involved with another woman. He threw himself to work- his work was also of very stressful nature, so he also had heart bypass done a few times. What I noticed about him is that his back was slightly hunched but his head was drooping. He walked stiffly, but not due to arthritis. He was quite a fierce and formidable man to his children and colleagues. Anyway, life went on….

Few decades later, he lost his beloved daughter to cancer. His daughter had tried to overcome the cancer with lots of courage and tried various holistic methods to overcome the disease but unfortunately succumbed to the illness during chemotherapy. Within two years of the death of his daughter, he succumbed to heart attack and passed away from it.

The hunched back and dropping head could be due to the emotional pain and burden that he had carried with him for many years. Being a typical type A personality, he never got in touch with his feelings and took the time to grieve for the lost of his wife. He closed his heart in an attempt to protect himself and that could explain the heart problems. Counseling would help but for someone who is socially successful, they may think that it is a waste of time and money.

In conclusion, the 2 cases that I have written about relates to two persons with seemingly different personalities but shared one thing in common- hunched back. It is not often the burdens in life that weighs us down, it is how we react to these challenges. Are they really a burden or just a temporarily setback?

Hunched back is symbolically similar to acceptance of defeat- think of soldiers who lost the war and return back to their home country- their head downcast and their backs hunched.

Exercises can help to relax and relief some stiff muscles. A trainer can also help to identify and correct muscle imbalance- but it may not work if one failed to correct the cause that results in the physical manifestation of that lack of optimism, helplessness and hopelessness.

Learn to develop optimism. You may not be born to be naturally optimistic, but it is something that you can learn and acquire. A parting quote:

Watch your thoughts, they become words

Watch your words, they become actions

Watch your actions, they become habits

Watch your habits, they become character

Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

                                  ~ Author Unknown


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