Ep. 85 Are You a Good Dancer?

Many of my clients do what they do with their dancing because, “they just want to be a good dancer.” But what does that even mean? Often they aren’t really sure, they just know it’s not what they are right now.

Why are we so resistant to believing we are a good dancer? What is the danger in believing that? Maybe it’s not even a good idea to wish for this for ourselves, at least not in the way we do it now.

In this episode, we talk about why we might not believe we are a good dancer, why we are resistant to changing our mind about that, and take the time to define for ourselves what a good dancer is to us as individuals.

For help figuring out this for yourself, might I recommend a free Dance Strategy Call

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This is the Ballroom State of Mind Podcast, episode 85: Are You a Good Dancer? Welcome to the Ballroom State of Mind Podcast. My name is Amber Haider, and I am your host. I’m a pro am ballroom dancer and a mindset coach. If you are a dancer who has been tirelessly working on your technique and your performance, and you need just a little help with your mindset, then you are in the right place.

Let’s go.

Hi friends. Welcome to the podcast this week. How are we doing? Our winter storm is pretty much over. Just about all the snow is melted. I’m feeling a little bit better, not coughing as much feeling good. And I’m super excited to go compete this week. I’m going to be in San Jose at the City Lights Open. This is where they’re holding the awards gala for one of the rankings that I ranked on in 2023. So I’m super excited to go accept that award for the Pro Am Ladies Rhythm A ranking, where I got first place. And, as always, I just love to compete. So I’m just excited to go dance and have a good time. And hopefully the weather in San Jose is better than it is here in Oregon. So looking forward to that!

This week on the podcast, I want to talk about being a good dancer. And I’ve been rolling this around in my mind a little bit because clients talk about this all the time. And you can probably relate to this. Sometimes I don’t think it’s the best thing that we want to be a “good dancer” because most people when they’re talking about this, they’re not talking about it in a way that feels good. They’re talking about it in a way that feels like a lamentation, like it’s a bummer. Like I’m not there and I’m never going to get there. There’s a lot of resistance around it. And so I’ve been playing around with this idea of like, Do we even want to think about this and evaluate if we’re a good dancer or not?

But I do think we do want to be a good dancer, (obviously we do want to be a good dancer) but I just want to give you some things to think about. And I think this is going to be a little bit of a mind bender for you today. So one of my clients this last week was talking about how she was just feeling like she just isn’t a good dancer and she’s kind of always evaluating, am I a good dancer or not?

And I asked her, when was the last time that you like really enjoyed your dancing? Like really had fun. Were excited about it. She said, back when I was a brand new dancer, and I thought I was a good dancer, she said, but then I figured out that I wasn’t. And it’s been really since then that she hasn’t really enjoyed her dancing.

And I thought, that’s interesting. And I kind of just thought about that for a while. And often when I work with clients, I ask a lot of ‘why’ questions. Why do you have the goals that you have? Why do you want to win at more competitions? For example, what is it that you want from your dancing? And so often when we ask this, why, and I will ask it many times, yeah, but why do we want that?

Yeah. But why? Yeah, but why? Yeah. What we get down to is I just want to feel like I’m a good dancer. This is what they say. And this is a version of wanting to feel like I’m enough. I’m good enough, by the way, not just in dancing, but in like life and just about every issue that people bring to coaching, whether that’s dance related or life related, it comes down to basically two fundamental needs for human beings. And they want to one, feel like they are enough and to feel like their life is where it’s supposed to be that they’re on track and that they haven’t missed something or they’re not behind. So this version of like, I just want to feel like I’m a good dancer is a version of, I just want to believe that I’m good enough.

And so they say, I want to be a good dancer. I want to feel like I’m a good dancer. And then I ask, okay, so, When will you be a good dancer? Will you know when you get there? What is a good dancer? What makes a good dancer? And I ask them, what are you using as your metrics to determine if you’re a good dancer?

And so let me ask you, dear listener, have you actually answered this question? How will you know when you’re a good dancer? How do you decide if you’re a good dancer? And when clients say this, like when, when they say they want to be a good dancer, I feel like they’re being vague. And, and we’re just thinking about ourselves in some future moment at some future point.

And in that future point, I’m going to be better than I am now. And I’m going to be more satisfied with where I am. In that future moment. And we kind of talk about it. Like, well, I’ll just know, like, I’ll just, I’ll be able to tell, I’ll just be able to feel like when we say, I want to feel like I’m a good dancer.

That’s not an emotion. We can’t feel like we’re a good dancer. That’s actually calling a thought of feeling. It’s just that I want to think that I’m a good dancer. I want to believe that I’m a good dancer. And we talk about it. Like, well, I’ll just know. Like I’ll just feel differently when I get there than I do now.

And so it’ll be a way that I feel about myself that will help me understand that I am a good dancer. And they might say, well, okay, I’ll know that I’m a good dancer when other people tell me that I’m good. Or they’ll say, oh, I really enjoyed your dancing. Or I will more consistently place well at competitions.

And so that will be the evidence. Or they’ll say my teacher will tell me more often that I’m doing well. Or that I’m doing a good job. I will have had more success. I will have collected more evidence from outside myself that I’m a good dancer. And I do think all of these things help fuel our beliefs that we’re good.

As human beings, this is what we do. We look outside ourselves for evidence for what we want to believe is true. So then in that case, is it other opinions? Other people’s opinions that will tell us if we’re a good dancer or not? Are we, depending on them to tell us, and then we’ll see if we agree or not, is something outside of us going to determine that we’re a good dancer or not?

But I can tell you, after working with hundreds of people, that whatever it is you are believing about yourself will trump what other people say. And I know this because You may have someone tell you that you are a good dancer or that they enjoyed your performance and you will dismiss it in your mind and you will think something like, well, they’re just saying that. I mean, what else would they say? They’re not going to be rude and say, Oh, that was just okay. Or that sucked. They’re going to be like, Oh, I loved it. Good job. And you’re not going to believe them or you’re going to think to yourself, well, they just, okay, well, maybe they like that performance, but they don’t know the whole picture.

They don’t, they don’t really know me. They haven’t seen all my dancing. So they don’t really kno. Or well, they’re not a professional. So what do they know? And these are the kinds of thoughts that we’ll have. If you place well or win, and if it’s only a couple of couples, a few couples at most, then you will use this as evidence that, well, that doesn’t count.

I mean, cause there just wasn’t that many. I, my clients will say this all the time. It’s like, I got this, I got that, I placed well, but there was only like three couples and they diminish it. Like it doesn’t count. And this is because if you hold the belief that you aren’t a good dancer yet, Or that you aren’t very good, your brain will choose narratives that align with what you are believing.

So let me say that again in a different way. If you hold a belief, any belief, you will choose narratives that align with what you’re believing. So if it doesn’t align with what you’re believing, you’ll dismiss it. And if it does align with what you’re believing, you will accept it. So even when you have evidence that you are a good dancer, that you’re doing well, that people are enjoying your dancing, you will be less likely, significantly less likely to believe or agree with it.

At a minimum, you’re going to doubt it. You’re going to, you’re going to be suspicious of it. And when your teacher tells you that they’re happy with you, you might even start to feel good for a minute, but then if you hold the belief that you’re not good enough, you will think something like, well, yeah, but they just say that because I pay them and they want me to keep buying lessons.

So what else would they say? And you’ll get your marks back from a competition and there will be some judges who do mark you well, but your brain will find the ones that placed you last or didn’t mark you well, and your brain will decide that those are the judges that were telling the truth. Because that’s what aligns with what you’re believing.

And if you get negative feedback, if you get negative feedback from your studio mates, let’s say you do get off the floor and you go towards the table where your friends are sitting and they, and somebody says, don’t worry, the next round will be better. Your brain will go, see, I knew I was terrible. See, they agree.This person outside of me agrees.

So if the evidence shows that you’re not good, then you will agree with it. And if the evidence shows you are good,then you will doubt it and not believe it. So it’s more important what you are believing about yourself, because what you believe about yourself, you are going to confirm by finding the evidence outside of you that matches it.

You will choose whatever evidence supports the narrative you already believe about yourself. Even if it’s painful. Your brain wants to be right. even more than it wants you to feel good. So this is why you need to be more choosing and more selective about what you believe and what you seek evidence for.

You can’t find evidence for whatever beliefs you hold. Okay. Let me say that again. You can find evidence for whatever beliefs you hold. This is why we can’t always believe that our thoughts are true and we can’t go along with things just because we think it’s true or it feels true because whatever I’m thinking I can find evidence for.

This is why we all argue incessantly online because everybody can make their case for what they believe. You can find evidence for any of it. Now, let’s talk about something here. You’ll always have improvements to be made as a dancer that will never end. Okay? You are never done. I’m just telling you right now.

Your ability to grow and progress is infinite. From where you are, you will always be able to see what can be better, and a better dancer, quote unquote. A better dancer is always in the future. And it’s never in the now. It’s always in the future. Just keep that in mind. And are you using that fact to make it mean that you aren’t good now?

Because I can see potential, because I can see an ideal, and I’m not there now, then I’m not good. Then I’m not good enough. I will be good then. That’s what we probably are believing. But think about this. When you get there, you will not be in the future. You will be in a present moment like this one. And whatever you are thinking and feeling now will probably be the same at that time if you don’t change your thinking, then you don’t change your beliefs. So, when you get to that moment, you will still likely be looking to some future point where you will be better. And you will still be withholding being pleased with yourself. And you will still be withholding the thought that you are a good dancer because you still see the work that you have to do.

So even when you are a better dancer, even a really good dancer, you still may not think so. So understand this, the circumstances won’t determine if you’re a good dancer or not. More wins isn’t going to necessarily make you feel like a good dancer. And less wins doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t a good dancer.

People telling you that you are good, won’t change your mind if you insist on believing that you aren’t good enough, those things outside of you, the wins, what people say, all of that feedback, it’s never as powerful as what you’re believing about yourself. So here’s what I want to give you. If you are willing to be wrong about your painful narrative, if you’re willing to believe that you are a good dancer, that you are enough, then the outside evidence will be confirmation.

It will reinforce what you already think and believe about yourself. And that feels amazing. When those outside things are confirmation, they’re a bonus. But you have to go first, in a sense. You have to be believing and really trying on that you are a good dancer, that you’re good enough right now. You have to be willing to believe that now, so that when that outside evidence comes, that you’re willing to accept it.

So, when will you, My friend, be able to say that you are a good dancer? One of my clients admitted that for her, when we talked about this, it felt dangerous. Her nervous system got kind of triggered thinking like, can I just believe that I’m a good dancer? She said, it just doesn’t seem right. Like, it seems like if I admit that, that I’m going to have some disappointment or some pain around it. And it just didn’t feel good. It didn’t feel okay to say I’m a good dancer. And I thought, ah, I wonder why.

So what would it be for you? If you felt like I just, I can’t just say I’m a good dancer. I can’t just believe that what comes up for you? If you have any resistance to that, is it that like I shouldn’t brag, like I shouldn’t be arrogant, like, is that what it is? Or is that just self regard? It’s just self regard to be willing to like yourself, to be willing to believe that you’re a good dancer.

And are we resistant to self regard? Are we resistant to self love? Are we resistant to self acceptance? I wonder why? Have you just been conditioned to never accept yourself as you are many of us have been conditioned to never accept yourself as you are? Many of us who’ve had certain types of parental figures who nothing was ever good enough, then we have adopted that belief that we’re not good enough, and we can’t accept where we’re at, and we can’t feel good about ourselves. Is that what’s going on for you? Consider what terrible thing would happen if you felt good about yourself.

Are you worrying that somebody else might feel bad? Well, what we’ve just determined is that a person who’s committed to feeling bad about themselves is going to do that. No matter what you’re doing, no matter how you feel about yourself, or how you talk about yourself, or how you show up for yourself, if somebody outside of you, A teammate, for example, is committed to feeling bad about themselves, then they will use your success against them. And you don’t get a say in that.

They’re committed to feeling that way about themselves, no matter whether you’re successful or not. Your success is not going to make other people feel bad. They make themselves feel bad when they interpret your success as harmful to them in some way, which is not true. But are you resistant to believing in yourself?

Are you resistant to believing you’re a good dancer because of how you’re believing it might affect people outside of you? Or are you perfectionistic? You have tendencies toward perfectionism. Are you thinking that if I believe I’m a good dancer right now, I’m going to be complacent and I won’t try as hard.

I’ll believe that I’m done and I won’t work at it. Well, I have yet to meet a driven person with perfectionistic tendencies who stops caring about excellence. I haven’t seen it. I promise you, you can think that you are good right now and still have a strong drive and still have a strong work ethic and still value excellence.

So, my friends, what will it take for you? If this is something that you want to believe for yourself, that you want to believe you’re a good dancer, I recommend you actually define it for yourself. What is a good dancer? And every one of you would say different things to me. Every one of you would have a different list.

So I want you to do this exercise where you at least go through it in your mind. What makes a good dancer? When will you be willing to decide that you’re a good dancer and why? What needs to be in place? What does it look like? So I’m going to give you some ideas. These are just my ideas. And you might agree with some of these, you might have other ideas, but what makes a good dancer?

To me, first and foremost, it’s somebody who dances. Let’s just start there. So many cultures… I think about this a lot… So many cultures besides our own, my own have dance as a central part of their life experience. Like anytime I see a video that comes through my feed on social media of cute little African kids dancing on the dirt, I just think, look at all those kids having the best time.

They’re so joyful. They’re all dancing. They all seem to be encouraging each other. They all seem to be just having a great time. And I wonder in my mind, at least when I imagine it, I’m like, they’re not putting each other down. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but I’m like, they’re not in their minds deciding if they’re a good dancer or not. They’re not waiting for some standard before they can get out there and dance. Like they feel the music, they are connecting with one another and they go out there and they dance and they’re just joyful. So to me, first of all, a good dancer, just somebody who dances.

I think that good dancers try. They persist.They don’t give up. They stay committed.

I think good dancers are willing to listen to mentors who know more than them, and they try to apply what’s offered from a humble place, that they’re always willing to be a student, that they’re willing to be a beginner.

I think good dancers do work on their skills, and those skills are different for everyone but even things like balance coordination flexibility, your figures, your posture, all of that. Good dancers work on that.

Good dancers are good teammates, to me. I think good dancers are team players and they encourage others and they’re not threatened by the success of others, and so they’re willing to help other people get success too. Good dancers, I think, learn from others and they also share their knowledge when they’re asked that they’re willing to teach.

I think good dancers find ways to improve their craft. Whatever that looks like. Maybe it looks like trying other styles. Maybe it looks like improving their strength, improving their stamina. I think good dancers believe in themselves and they treat themselves and their bodies well.

I think good dancers play.I love to play. I think good dancers experiment and try things and try to get creative. And I think good dancers to me, keep it fun and they enjoy themselves.

That’s just some ideas that I had. Take the time to define this for yourself. And if you are resistant to believing that you are already a good dancer, then you can try what one of my other clients said this week. She said, “For now I can be okay with being an okay dancer.”

I’m okay with that too. That is moving the needle in the right direction. If we’re a little bit resistant to believing that we’re a good dancer right now, that’s okay. Let’s just move a little bit that direction by believing like, well, I’m okay with being an okay dancer. Perfect. Do that for now.

Or just even find micro moments where you’re willing to believe that you’re a good dancer, that you’re willing to look for that evidence that confirms it for you. And it doesn’t have to be all the time.

The last thing that I wanted to offer to you is, as I have thought about this topic, a quote came into my mind, which is from John Steinbeck, and it was, “Now that you don’t have to be perfect, uou can be good.” And that’s how I think about this dancing a little bit is like when we drop the perfection, and we drop some ideal, and we just let it be joyful, let it be fun. And we just let it be. Now we’re actually going to get good. Okay. That’s what I have for you guys today.

Catch you next time.

Thank you for listening to this episode. Do you have a mindset coach yet? If you don’t, you really need to think about it because all of the best dancers, all of the best athletes have coaches and it’s not because they’re weak. It’s because they’re smart. If you have things relative to your dancing, you have not been able to overcome on your own, I highly recommend you get on a dance strategy call with me. It’s free. It’s quick, and I’m going to give you strategies right away to implement on the things that are affecting you the most. You will be shocked at how quickly you can overcome some of these issues that have plagued you for if not months, even years.

I will put information in the show notes about how to get on one of those calls, or you can always go to amberhaider.com for more information. And don’t forget to share this podcast with your friends and hit subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Hi there,

I'm Amber haider

As an amateur ballroom dancer myself, I understand the issues that come up for dancers, the pressures of competing, and the desire to make the most of my ballroom experience. I also really like to WIN! As a Life Coach by vocation, I have the tools to cut through the mental garbage that is holding you back so that you can maximize your potential. Using my own tools, I have been able to skyrocket my own skills, learn faster, lessen the pressure, win more and have tons more fun. I can show you the way. Here’s a couple tools to get you started:

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