Thanks to everyone who wrote back to me last week.
We have quite a cross section of walls. People cited finding community, performance freeze, practice habits, illness, student readiness, and where to sell vintage vinyl (ebay or FB groups). We will get to all of these.
But the number one wall?
“I’m not good enough.”
Many of us believe we are not good enough, will never be good enough, or worry what others might think of us. This fear is so common, so pervasive, we don’t even realize the Bad Voices are lying. This destructive perception colors everything–it hijacks our happiness, short-circuits our success, and corrodes our souls. And it’s a perfect opening, since we planned to talk about Confidence as one of the 3 prongs of Old and Hot. But it also raises an important question: Not good enough for what? Belly dance?
Belly dance isn’t about being “good enough.” It’s about sharing a physical and emotional enjoyment of the musical moment. Traditionally, it’s a casual, loving, dance of the people, not a tour de force for highly-trained professionals. Sure, there have always been professional dancers, but relaxation is a virtue–plus millions more folks do this dance at home for their own enjoyment, with friends and family. It’s not rocket science. It’s a fun, playful dance. You are already good enough—seriously. But you still feel bad. Wtf?
That feeling won’t go away—until you see through it. For most of my life, I was the poster child for Not Good Enough (and it’s twin sister, Perfectionism). I believed every disheartening word the Bad Voices said to me. I just thought they were the truth. Subsequently, I have spent a lot of time and energy exploring this. I believe that dismay at our perceived lack of quality is largely an artifact of trauma. The way I see it, perfectionism, self-censure, and other control issues are all about staying safe.
In the past, others hurt us, found fault with us, or shamed us. So now we are going to beat them at their own game. If we judge ourselves first, if we point out every flaw, we will pre-empt those who might burn us with their critical flamethrowers. We will hurt ourselves first. We place our own flies in the ointment. We disappoint ourselves so we will not be disappointed. How sad is that? Pretty darn sad.
What can we do about it? Many things help. Dance and breath are among them. But there is one shift that helps all the others to come through: Mindset.
What is Mindset? Mindset is the set of beliefs that people have about themselves or the world. The researcher Carol Dweck coined the term to characterize the beliefs students held that caused “smart” kids to fail and less “smart” kids to succeed http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/.
What does mindset have to do with dance? Our belief that we are not good enough is just that: a belief. It is a mindset and nothing more, a sad, Eeyore-like conviction that “We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” Well, that’s not all there is. And the secret is NOT working harder, practicing harder, or otherwise punishing the body for its supposed infractions. The secret is changing our mindset and developing self-compassion.
How do we change our mindset? By observing, challenging, and releasing our previous beliefs. Full directions are here. We CAN change from self-blame to self-compassion. Remember last week’s self-compassion quiz? Go back to that aliathabit.com/old-hot/. Then come back to this. Mindset shift is the first step. Self-compassion is our new mindset.
Next, we need strategies. One of the first strategies is breath.
Breath grounds us. It calms, energizes, and heals. It cures performance brain freeze, helps us develop confidence and resilience. It is a miracle drug! And it is available to all of us. Numerous breath strategies help with our assorted needs.
Try this, right now: Inhale a count of 4; Exhale for a count of 8. Do this a few times. Slow down your count after the first few breaths. Keep going until you feel calm and grounded. It won’t take long.
Remember this for next time you feel stressed, anxious, or negative—in life or performance, alone or with others. It works because we are biologically wired to connect safety with long exhales. This was the first exercise I learned in my trauma resolution journey. Now it is yours.
PS Interested in more?
Remember that Small Product Challenge from last week? What we most need is Confidence—but let’s go a step further: Joy would be nice, wouldn’t it? The Road to Joy. Now, this is a huge, huge topic that includes pretty much everything that interests me. So we have to start small. One of the primary strategies is Breath. This is where we start.
The Road to Joy: Step 1. Breath will be ready to roll on May 16. But if you want to get in on Trust the Chef early pricing (and you know you always get the best deal), feel free to jump right now.
Thank you for being part of this journey!