This post is specific to dancers, but I’m sure you can connect it to yourself if that doesn’t apply to you.
Why do you want to dance?
Whenever I coach ballroom dancers, I always begin with Why? Why are you dancing? Why are you here? It’s an important question I have you answer because it’s something we need to come back to time and time again People have so many different reasons that they want to dance. Number one usually being that it’s fun, and that we love it. Because we do! That is the best reason. But there’s lots of other reasons. Some people want more physical activity, or want something to do. Maybe you want to be a part of a community, maybe you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Maybe you love the challenge of working on something and seeing yourself get better, and then having that gratification of that growth. So maybe you like it for personal growth reasons. Maybe you like it, because it challenges you, or maybe you like the idea of competing, and stacking yourself up against somebody else. Maybe you just like it for the ambience, like my friend Mia who just loves the whole thing, music and dancing and dressing up and makeup and hair and all the fancy stuff. Or like one of my other clients who said, “It is fun to walk out sparkling.” And it is! So even if your reason is that you want to get dressed up fancy, and walk out on the floor like a boss, I think that’s a very good reason. These are all very good and valid reasons. But it’s important that you know why you’re dancing.
Dancing isn’t for the faint of heart
If you’ve been dancing at all, then you know that this journey is fraught with ups and downs. There’s going to be successes, sure, but there’s going to be failures, too. There’s going to be struggles; it’s not an easy path. So when it gets challenging, we want to be able to come back to that why, and make sure that we’re still in alignment with why we’re doing this. Let me give you an example. If there’s other dancers in your studio, for example, who are challenging you, meaning they maybe are better than you. And you see that, and you compare yourself to them, and you start to kind of feel less about yourself, you start to see your deficiencies. Or maybe you’re concerned about what those other dancers think of you. That is some interference that can get in the way of your enjoyment of dancing. But if we were to zoom out, (which is a tool I’m going to tell you about) and reconnect with our why, we can see if this is something we really want to give our attention to. If our why is to have fun, to experience personal growth, and to challenge ourselves and see what we can do, then what other dancers think of us is none of our business, and it’s not relevant to our journey. Any drama we might have with other dancers is not relevant, because we’re here to have fun, learn and grow. So if we stop having fun, then we want to drop all of those things that are causing us not to have fun. So we don’t want to give our attention to that. Maybe you are working with your teacher. And you sense that your teacher is getting frustrated with you. So maybe you start to get frustrated yourself that you’re not able to translate what they’re trying to teach you. So now you’re feeling frustrated, you’re starting to experience some negative emotion, you kind of don’t want to keep the lesson going. But if we zoom out, and we remember the reasons for being there–we want to have fun, personal growth, etc…was anything on that list to please people outside of you? Hopefully not. Doing it for someone else is not the way to have a long distance journey with your dancing. It always has to be for you. So if you’re getting caught up more on what other people think of you are getting caught up more in what your teacher thinks, then we want to zoom out. And remember why we’re doing this and that it’s okay, if somebody is disappointed. We’re probably not even right about that, first of all, because we’re terrible mind readers, but we want to just zoom out and remember why we’re doing this and that it’s okay for other people to have their feelings. That’s not what we’re here for.
This zooming out tool is just a way that you get perspective. So imagine that you are deep in the weeds, meaning there’s stuff going on right around you, and you’re having trouble getting out of it, you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s not fun anymore. And you’re just questioning if you even want to do this anymore, then this is where you zoom out. You imagine yourself just as a drone, and you’re going to rise up above the weeds up into the sky. And you’re going to get a little bit higher perspective. You’re going to look down at what’s happening. And you’re going to check in with your why. Is what’s happening right now, that I’m concerning myself with, that I’m giving my attention to, is this in alignment with my Why? Is this relevant to my Why? Let me calm myself down, center myself, ground myself. And just remember those reasons that I’m here. So, if you’re not sure what your why is, then I want to give you some questions to help you kind of identify it.
Questions to consider for finding your why
What drew you to ballroom dance in the first place? Was it the music? Was it the costuming? Was it competitions? Not everybody wants to compete. So what drew you to dance in the first place?
Why are you dancing NOW? If you’ve been dancing for a while, sometimes your why will change. When I first started dancing, I just wanted to do it casually. I just wanted to do it socially. I just wanted to have fun. But it really didn’t take long before my why changed, and I wanted to compete. So when we’re checking in with our why, we can also check to see if it’s still valid, and maybe our why has changed. So why are you dancing? Right now?
What parts of ballroom dance do you like the best? Is it the technicality? Is it the hair, makeup and competitions? Is it the practicing? Is it the opportunity to be in a show? Is it the getting better? Is it medals exams? Is it that kind of progress? What parts do you like the best?
What talents and skills and attributes that you possess fit well with ballroom dance? What parts of you really connect with ballroom dance that you feel the most successful? Because the things that you enjoy about it are the things that I want you to focus on. And I want you to really milk those parts of it and really get as much of those parts of it as you can. So consider what part of it are you good at. Because when we’re good at something, we like it. And when we like it, we want to do more of it. And when we do more of it, we get better at it and then we like it even more. So what part of it are you good at? Let’s focus on that.
If your dance journey were to grow you into a certain kind of person, who might you become? Meaning what do you want to get out of it? What do you want to get from dance? Are you wanting dance to fill a hole for you? Are you wanting dance to change you into a different person? Are you wanting to use it to become more confident?
Are you using ballroom dance to escape from anything?
What do you really, really, really love about ballroom dance? What parts of ballroom dance do you fear? Or dread? or avoid? And why? Do you really dread practicing? Why do you really fear dancing in front of other people, even in a practice setting? And why?
These are just some questions to help you really dive into why you’re doing this. really take the time to do this exercise because it’s something you’re going to come back to time and time again. When you need perspective, when you need recentering, then we want to connect with that why, and we’re going to use the zooming out tool to do that.
When you are feeling yourself in that little tug of war, in that little space of negative emotion, whatever it’s about whether it’s stress, or pressure or anxiety around competitions or drama in your studio or frustration with yourself and your progress. When you’re feeling that tug of war, that is your opportunity to zoom out and to reconnect with your why and to find a way to have fun again, because that is the most important thing. If you can continue to have fun and dancing you’re going to dance for a very long time and that is what we want. Go on out and let your dancing be fun!