Stefanie was my first connection in the Ballroom Village. Her stories on her blog inspire and encourage me to keep going! You can check them out at http://dancingwithstefanie.com/. I asked her to write a guest post and I think it ended up being a great response to my last post: At What Point Can You Call Yourself a “Dancer”. Without further ado…
Hello! I’m Stefanie, also known as the Beautiful Girl In the Ballroom (formerly the Biggest Girl In the Ballroom – but that is another story… actually it relates to this post….), and I’m excited and honored to be asked to write a guest post for the newest Ballroom Blogger On The Block, the newest member of Ballroom Village, Miss Girl With The Tree Tattoo!
Wow, that probably logs for the longest first sentence ever, lol. Moving on…so, yes, I’m honored and excited to get to share a bit of myself with Miss Tree’s audience. I’ve loved reading about her journey and seeing her photos and videos, and I’ve loved that we’ve connected so quickly. Actually, I do think ballroom dancers are a supportive community so it’s neat we can extend that to the blogosphere as well. As soon as Miss Tree came on the scene, I knew she was a star and I asked her to do a guest post for me. I love introducing newbies and getting to know them. I also love expanding the Ballroom Village. So I was thrilled that Tree accepted the invite.
Now it’s the reverse! Here we go!
Well, I think the hardest part about a guest post is deciding on the topic. Luckily, Tree sent me a nice email. To quote a part of it: “Hi Stef! I’m loving the changes you made to your blog and yourself recently! I’m a little envious of your new, awesome mindset. So I was wondering – would you consider writing a guest post for my site going into more detail on how you got there?”
Sure I would! And to fill you in, I changed the name of my blog from Biggest Girl In The Ballroom to BEAUTIFUL Girl In The Ballroom. It’s kind of a big deal. Not only because of the psychological implications, or what I’m declaring about myself and what’s important about me, but also because in the life of a Facebook page you can change the name of the page exactly once. Once you change it, that’s it! No more! Be certain that’s the change you want to make, missy! There is no going back! It’s serious…seriously!
So how did I get from Biggest Girl In The Ballroom to Beautiful Girl In the Ballroom? That is the question, isn’t it? I also recently declared that I’m done with wallowing over my self-image, obsessing about weight loss, and comparing my body to that of others. I declared that that will no longer be a part of what I write about, and let me tell you, this is what the blog started upon – this used to be the meat of it.
So what happened?
To state it simply, I transformed.
I want to distinguish Transformation from changing or fixing or “bettering.” I did none of this. To illustrate what I mean, I want to share a parable.
There was once a River that flowed toward its destiny, the Ocean. The River was swift and powerful. It flowed across all types of landscapes, and even, with patience, it could cut through rock. The River could carve rock and create pathways wherever it wanted to go. For years and years, the River flowed this way and it worked. One day the River came upon the Great Desert. The River flowed and it flowed but to no avail. The River continued to flow, it had patience, but the River could never seem to make its way through the Desert like it had made its way through Stone. So the River poured itself endlessly into the Great Desert but the Great Desert did not change. The Great Desert was unchangeable. The Great Desert was immovable and absorbed every drop the River poured into it.
And then the Sun arose in the Eastern Sky. The River felt its warmth and it allowed itself to be transformed in the Sun’s heat. The River allowed itself to cease to be a River and to simply become tiny droplets of vapor that could float upon the air. These droplets coalesced into clouds and these clouds, with the help of the Wind, traversed over the Desert where they were cooled and fell downward into the Ocean, into the River’s destiny.
I think this mirrors my journey exactly. As much as I pour myself into the desert, it is a dead end. My way of being has worked before and has gotten me far, but now it is ineffective. I must transform to reach my destiny, so this is what I have done and what I am continuing to do as I reach each new desert.
So I guess this begs the question, how might a person transform themselves? The answer is, there is no one particular answer. There is no one particular way to do it. What you seek you will find. When the student is ready, the teacher appears. In the act of asking the question, the Universe is set in motion to answer seekers.
And, in a practical sense, I also do want to share my journey, and some real life strategies to potentially implement that could be helpful. But with the caveat that the most helpful thing is to look within yourself and check in with your own sense of what is right for you! There is no “right” way. There are many ways. There are infinite ways. Create and invent what works for you.
To begin, I think what might be helpful would be to share what doesn’t work. Humans do these behaviors a lot but they don’t work. The evidence is incontrovertible. If beating myself worked, I’d be thin and lean by now! So would a lot of other people.
What doesn’t work is beating yourself up. What doesn’t work is negative, belittling, hopeless self-talk/inner dialogue. What doesn’t work is bullying or forcing or “willpower” to “fix” yourself. What doesn’t work is hating self. What doesn’t work is wishing you were other than how you are.
What could work, what might be a doorway into a different way of being, is to let go of beating yourself up. Be warned. It’s an addiction. It will not go quietly. Can you feel how uncomfortable it feels to even talk about the idea of not internally punishing yourself for not being perfect? It creates this big open space and what to do with that space? It’s been so filled with demeaning, shoulds, have-tos, musts, self-deprecation, etc, etc, etc…. The space is a bit scary. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Deliberately choose to be okay with feeling unfamiliar ways of being, unfamiliar body sensations (which we label as emotions), because unexpected stuff may arise. Be okay with it arising so it has the possibility of arising. Otherwise, it won’t. Let go of the metaphorical hammer you’ve been using to beat yourself into submission. Let go of the constant, incessant diatriabe about how you are inadequate and unloveable. Stop it. And, expect for it to fight tooth and nail for its right to party in your mind.
Me, I’ve been working on this for about 3 years. I had to watch myself in action and catch myself saying really nasty stuff and then address it. I would simply acknowledge that I would never say what I had just said to myself to any other human being on this Earth and then declare internally that it was not okay to do that. It’s a practice.
As a paradigm, I really like Buddhism. And there is a vow some Buddhists take to end all suffering. This includes self-suffering. In fact, it actually BEGINS with self-suffering. If I can’t end my own suffering, how could I possibly end the suffering of any other being?! LOL! So yeah! And I vow to end all suffering. It just seems like the right thing to do. So I’m going to work with what’s in front of me, and that’s me and my suffering. So my opportunity is to end that.
Okay, so, I acknowledged all the crappy automatic negative nasty stuff my brain says to me and I, over time, addressed it, lovingly, gently, not seeking to eradicate it or end it, but rather to embrace it. I imagined that each nasty goblin-voice was really just a scared little child. With this perspective I could create a safe space for that little demon-voice to exist and to say what it needed to say. I could be the owner of my house and welcome the goblin into my living room. When the goblin felt heard and not rejected generally all his fire ran out and he’d leave the house. I don’t want the goblin to move in and take up residence but I don’t have to resist his existence either. He’s actually not that scary.
But the truth is, as many goblin-voices as I welcome into my living room for a chat, there are still more behind the scenes that are gonna be there. And even the ones that have a visit might visit again – it’s not like I’ve evicted them. To be clear – this is not a seek-and-destroy mission to eradicate goblin-thoughts. Nay, these thoughts will never be completely eradicated. I think the “trick,” instead, is to move through them faster and faster. Also, the “trick” is to let it all be as it is, and to let go of the need to change any of it. Instead of pouring my energy and focus into trying to exterminate anything, I find, a more effective way of being is to see a thought as a thought and to simply let it be a thought. In Buddhist terms, “I am the Sky and the thought is a cloud.” This gives me a freedom that I don’t have to buy into any particular thought. And even if a thought sucks me in like a black hole and I believe it, and I play the whole dramatic movie in my head, (all this while knowing that I’m buying into a thought and it is not even true – but man the feelings they generate certainly feel real!) I can flip out of it quicker. Used to take weeks…then days…then hours….now, well, in general the process gets more and more efficient (depending on how deep-rooted the nasty is). The trick is, that the less I buy into the particular storyline the less hold it has on me and the less draw it has the next time around. That means it slowly (or quickly) spirals out of existence. The goblin-voices are no longer self-sustaining. And miraculously by not seeking to eliminate the pattern, the pattern has dissappated….magic!
And this frees me up to take actions that actually move me forward. Imagine that!
More importantly, when I’m done focusing and pouring all my energy into resisting who and how I am and hating what is, trying to kill off goblin-negative-nelly-thoughts, I’m free to create anew who I am, what I stand for, how I want to show up in life.
Through this process of transformation I realized that I’d been declaring on my blog this entire time that one of the most important things about me was my size – I was the Biggest Girl In The Ballroom. However, that is not true. Who I am has nothing to do with my size. Who I am has to do with my heart and my spirit. Who I am is a dancer. Who I am is an inspiring and powerful woman. Who I am is a compassionate. Who I am is Beautiful. I could be packaged any way you please, with any color skin or height or even gender, any body, any size, and I would still be who I am, inside. So I’ve given up the addiction of thinking that how I look is who I am. And by letting go of that, my blog name became obsolete and I got to choose a new name that more accurately reflects who I am. I chose Beautiful.
I hope sharing this helps explain some of how I got from where I was to where I am. Mostly it boils down to a practice of compassion for self, loving self, and having the courage to let go of a part of me I identified with – the unsupportive, nasty, self-berating voice that felt like it was who I am. Really all that is is conditioning. It’s a construct of self-sustaining voices I heard, that we all hear, growing up that I internalized. It’s a part of being a human being, this conditioning. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it serves many purposes in early years, mostly to keep us safe and to help us survive. However, these voices are no longer useful. And they are unkind. I am not willing to tolerate them or let them run my life any more. You don’t have to either. Isn’t that great!? If I can do this transformation thing, anyone can. Truly, it’s available to everyone and anyone who seeks it and there are a myriad of portals into this work. You can start by being willing to be present to the voices in your head that dishearten you. When you hear them, be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself as if speaking to a friend who had just said that about herself. Find the compassion for all parts of you, allow them to be, and you just might be surprised where a practice like this can take you! I got a whole new name and identity out of it. What gems will you find inside yourself?