We are all guilty of being too hard on ourselves from time to time and dancing is no different. We’ve all heard that we should “be kind to ourselves”, or “give yourself a break”. Intellectually we know this is true but emotionally we just can’t seem to resist the temptation to kick ourselves when we’re down. Not only does being overly critical about yourself make you feel bad. But studies show it actually makes you less likely to reach your goals. That’s right! Self-criticism is actually not the motivating force that many of us have come to believe. What is appearing in the research of motivation is compassion. In fact, research shows that when people treat themselves’ kindly, they are more likely to believe they can improve, correct mistakes, and re-engage with goals after veering off course. In contrast, self-criticism is linked to procrastination, stress, and anxiety—none of which motivates people to continue pursuing a goal.
- Focus On The Work
If you are struggling with a particular dance technique or step that isn’t coming along as you expected. Focus on the work not your feelings about it. Discouragement is a normal part of learning anything new. Try to steer clear of negativity and self-defeating talk. Believe in yourself and let that inspire you to try again and try herder.
- Treat Yourself Like You Would Another Person
You would never see someone else’s dancing and say any of the horrible of things that you allow into your own head. So don’t say it to yourself. You are not a loser, you can do this and you’re going to try again until you get it. Because you are capable, worthy and good enough. Period.
- STOP! And Assess What Action You Need To Take
Do you need to refocus and try it again? Should you take a breather and come back to it? Do you need to find someone with more experience and ask for help? When we’re in the negativity zone it’s hard to see anything but the problem. Take a step back, and logically come up with a solution. Maybe your balance is off because your weight isn’t fully committed to the proper foot. Maybe your head is in the wrong position. Allowing yourself to look at the whole picture will help you to assess and act in a more productive way.
- Accept Where You Are
So often we get stuck in the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. I should’ve started younger, I should be in the final already, I should look like so and so. These unrealistic stories can play over and over in our heads. You are where you are, and the only way out is to keep moving. When we compare ourselves to other people often we miss the hard work and dedication they invested. You think Yulia Zagoruychenko didn’t get frustrated? Or have a bad practice? Even Victor Fung had a first dance lesson once. He was in the same place you are right now! The only difference is the belief in yourself and the willingness to commit to the good days and the bad days.
- Adjust Your Expectations
Mistakes and failures are the stepping stones for success. Brilliant Businessman, and Speaker Kerwin Rae says “The key to success is failure.” Did you assume you’d be better by now? Maybe that dancing would come easier or more naturally to you? We all think about learning new skills as the finished product without realizing how complicated they are. Part of the allure of the finished product is how easy the master makes it look. They’ve trained and trained not to just do it right but to make it look effortless. The appearance of ease is a testament to the dedication the craft, not a realistic expectation. It’s not supposed to be easy, or it wouldn’t be awe-inspiring. If it were easy everyone would have a multimillion-dollar business, or shred on the guitar or glide like Edita Daniute. Instead, focus on your journey and enjoy every minute of it. This is your experience and in the end that’s all you’ve got.