As I have worked with ballroom dance clients, themes have emerged. Today I share 7 areas that you can take a look at to measure how you are doing with mental strength in your dancing. This isn’t a complete list and I’m sure it will evolve over time, but it’s a good place to start.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 to get a baseline, then start improving in some of these areas. Periodically check in and measure again to see how you are coming along.
1. Self Talk–Your self talk is not frivolous. Your inner chatter has the power to shape who you are. It can help you reach your dreams or hold you back. Because the vast majority of your default habitual thoughts are negative, it’s important that you direct your thinking. You will know you are getting better in this area because you are being a better friend to yourself. You start treating yourself better and getting more results in your life.
2. Comparison–It’s normal and human to compare yourself to others. But it’s best if you immediately drop it as soon as you recognize you are doing it. Comparison will almost always leave you feeling like less and putting yourself in a one-down position. Not a lot of good comes from us when we feel this way. You will know you are improving when you think less and less about what other dancers are doing. Your goal here is to truly, deeply recognize that other dancers have nothing to do with you.
3. Self-Belief/Confidence–Everyone wants more confidence. But since confidence comes after-the-fact when you have earned it, I think what we really want is self-belief. We want to know that we are going to be okay before we have any evidence for it. We want to know that we are in good hands with ourselves. You will know you are getting better in this area when you experience more self trust and while you might feel nervous about new experiences you will take more risks and try more new things.
4. Motivation–In this area, I am speaking about how good are you feeling about your dancing? Do you feel drawn to it? Do you want to do the thing? We don’t have to feel excited about it all the time, but if you are feeling dread, wanting to retreat, and feeling lots of frustration, overwhelm or burnout, it’s likely we need to find more joy and feel more motivated. You will know you are doing better in this area when you are generally feeling more drawn to dancing. You want to do it. You are drawn to it.
5. Anxiety/Stress–As you measure this area, a 10 would be that you are really happy with how you are handling your stress and/or anxiety. It is not our expectation that we will never feel it. You will always have some stress or anxiety. But it can be greatly reduced when we more closely monitor our thoughts and get pickier about how we think. Get better at allowing the situational stress and not creating unnecessary extra suffering. You will be getting better at this when you don’t fear these emotions and feel more in control of yourself in higher pressure situations.
6. Attentional Control–Whatever you give your attention to has the power and you have to manage your mind around. There are too many things that we give attention to that are not relevant. Ask yourself often if what you are concentrating on is relevant. Things that are out of your control–other people, the future, the past, etc, are often things we spend unnecessary energy on. Practice keeping focused on relevant items and you will experience having more energy and feel yourself being distracted less and less.
7. Meaning of Results–If you are making the results mean something about your worthiness or value, you will be on an emotional roller coaster. Giving results less power in your mind will greatly reduce your stress levels and allow to you deliver your best performances.