Happy Saturday everyone! If you recall, during my dance lesson on Wednesday, I was super self-critical. I couldn’t do anything right, and every compliment Teacher gave me was drowned out by the negative noise in my head. After reflecting on the lesson, I realized I was letting my demons get the best of me again and resolved to go into Friday’s lesson with a different attitude. So I made some commitments to myself.
I spent Thursday and Friday gently reminding myself of my promises and visualizing being successful. I even made a little graphic that I shared on Instagram:
I also told myself there was a very good chance I would fail.
Stay with me. There is a method to my madness.
My three commitments were intended to help remove the extreme pressure I put on myself to become the amazing ballroom dancer I so desperately want to be. But it would be easy for me to just transfer the pressure to successfully completing these commitments. So I tell myself all I have to do is try. Success will equal putting in an honest effort, and that’s it. If I end up devolving into a hyper-critical perfectionist, so be it. At least I tried.
How did I do?
Naturally, it was a rocky start. Teacher had me warm up with rumba walks. He wanted me to do them to music, but just focus on one technique point at a time. The noise in my head got pretty loud pretty quick. Even if I have just one focus, as soon as I also try to listen to the music and keep time, it becomes too much. Trying to count quicks and slows wasn’t helping, so Teacher said switch to numbers and he counted out loud to help me. There was some improvement, enough to quiet the noise so I could hear a gentle mantra “don’t overthink, just dance, don’t overthink, just dance.”
As the lesson went on, it got easier to shut out the noise in my head and focus on Teacher’s instructions. The main topic was maintaining resistance and connection through my lats. I’m proud to say I did not overthink, and when we started dancing our rumba routine and Teacher pointed out where I was losing the connection, I did not let my demons unleash a tirade of harsh insults. I just tried again. And I did better!
And wouldn’t you know it, those swivels that frustrated me so much went smoother! When we switched to the cha cha routine and that 1.5 spins came up, I nailed that one too!
I was in mild disbelief by the end of the lesson at how well it went. It sounds obvious when you talk about it, but actually doing things like not expecting perfection and trusting yourself are incredibly difficult. Especially for someone like me. I’m always waiting for the catch or for something to go wrong, even if it’s minor. Nothing ever goes as planned. There is always at least one hiccup. Right?
Not this time apparently. It’s weird. I did what I promised myself I would do and changed my mindset. Not 100% of course, but even a small adjustment made a huge difference and I ended up having a great lesson. That sounds familiar – like when Teacher makes a small adjustment to my technique and suddenly a dance feels so much better!
So there you have it. My small experiment was successful! I’m keeping the graphic on my phone, so I can keep reminding myself of those three commitments.
It’s funny. I know this isn’t the first time I’ve made a conscious effort to change my mindset and have actually experienced a positive result. I’ve used post-it notes with encouraging thoughts on my bathroom mirror. I’ve forced myself to write down positive notes after a bad lesson. I’ve tried to develop a habit of just saying “thank you” when someone compliments my dancing instead of downplaying or dismissing the praise. And yet, I keep having to come up with new methods because I always fall back into that old pit of despair.
I think that’s ok though. Maybe each new method is just chipping away at a different layer of self-doubt. Maybe the combination of each new method plus all of the ones that preceded it is having a greater impact than I realize.
So no offense to Master Yoda, but I think I am going to continue to just try, because it seems like when I try, I do!