Pause, Explore, Remember the Truth, Reach Out
It’s important to identify the differences as it helps you understand how to deal with things. For example, if you have a lot of stress going on in your life, you may feel defeated during class that you can’t do a move you may normally be able to. Your first thought may be, I am not strong enough, I need to condition more. If you go home and do more conditioning, you may be winding up your nervous system so much that you are actually getting further from your goal. You may very well need to get some sleep and focus on managing your stress instead.
Another example, you could be coming back from a long-term break, whether it’s from travels, having a baby, coming back from injury, etc. Again, the challenges are multi-faceted. There are the physical challenges of identifying where your body is at, the mental challenges of not remembering how certain moves work or frustrated that you’re not where you left off. It’s impossible to have one thing without a few others tagging along. So how do we deal with these things?
Pause - A very effective tool is to start noticing what comes up for you and this is an awesome skill to have in life. Instead of an immediate reaction, take a moment and pause and think, what is going on here or what am I experiencing now? If you’ve just come down from a really hard move on the hoop, or are halfway through a barre or dance class and a bunch of thoughts or feelings are coming up, just take a moment to really notice instead of react.
Explore - Once you have done an initial pause, take a moment to dig a little deeper with that experience. Generally our first indication something isn’t right is when we can’t do something physically or are confused or challenged mentally. Are you frustrated because you physically can’t do something or are confused about how it works? Ask for feedback. There is nothing wrong with asking your instructor, does it look like I need more conditioning for this or am I missing something? Right away you can get feedback if it’s something you can physically work on.
Or maybe it’s more than that. If you feel like, “well of course this is happening to me with the day I’m having today.’, it is very likely you are bringing in other stress into the equation. Be gentle with yourself and understand that today just may not be your day and that’s ok.
Giving Things Meaning - Again, let’s dig a little deeper. You’ve paused, realize that you’re frustrated you can’t get a move, or are anxious that you are taking a new class. What humans are great at doing is telling ourselves stories and giving things meaning that don’t mean that. We can generally spiral out of control in the emotional aspect before things even happen. Do any of these sound familiar?
You’re waiting for a new dance class and feeling a little anxious, which is normal. However, with the time leading up to class, your thoughts and feelings get away on you… what is class going to be like? Am I going to be able to do it? Why did I think I could do a contemporary class? I think this was a mistake. I’m not a dancer. I don’t fit in here. I’m going to be terrible…..You’ve already determined you’re not going to have fun even before you left the lobby.
I can’t do the Chopper in Pole (or Straddle in Hoop). EVERYONE ELSE in my class can do it. Something is missing. I’m sure I’m strong enough. What is going on here? This isn’t fair. This always happens to me. I don’t fit in with everyone else. They are all so strong. I don’t even know why I signed up for this class. Maybe I should quit.
Everyone in Barre class today seems to be doing fine and I’m just dying right now. Why did I think this was something I could do? I need to take breaks and literally no one else is taking a break. I’m never going to get better at this. Everyone probably thinks I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m so embarrassed.
Woah, woah, woah. Pause. And take a breath. While I was over-exaggerating in some of these examples, to be honest, it’s not far off from some of the dialogue I hear from time to time. Can you see how things quickly spiraled out of control in all of the examples by making things mean things that they don’t? Take a moment and think about the times you’ve done this. It can be really insightful in class or in life to pause and see where things turned into an emotional train wreck giving it a meaning that simply isn’t true.
Is this True? If your emotions start to spiral, a fantastic question to ask yourself, “Is this true?” Is it true that you don’t deserve to try a new dance class? No. Is it true that you don’t belong in a class because you can’t do a move? No. Is it true you should quit because you need a break? No.
When you actually take a moment to ask yourself, are these thoughts and feelings true, you can see how quickly our emotions can get away on us giving things meaning that don’t have it. Would other Barre participants seriously be thinking you shouldn’t be there? Is that the truth? No! They’d be silently cheering you on in their head saying keep going because they know how hard it is. That is the truth.
Reach Out - Once you’ve started to ‘look around’ with thoughts and feelings that have come up, reach out. The easiest way for things to stop spiraling out of control, is to get out of your head and get into reality. First, ask your instructor, do I need more conditioning? Is there something I’m missing or can do? The truth may be that you do need to do more stretching or conditioning and that’s ok! That’s where it should end. It should not go down the path of beating yourself up because you can’t do it.
Reach out to fellow classmates. Sometimes the most validating thing is to share your experience. Maybe everyone in class can get a shoulder mount but you, but maybe you don’t know it took someone in that class 6 months to get it. Sharing your experience and reaching out can give perspective that everyone finds different things difficult. That’s what makes it fun!
Reach out to friends and family. As previously discussed, your challenges may have nothing to do with your training and everything to do with your life. Have coffee with a friend to discuss work challenges, talk with your partner about stress you may feel, get yourself in a routine to reduce stress. While none of this happens within the studio walls, not only will this enhance your training, but also your life.
The next time you find yourself bumping into some challenges, remember to Pause, Explore, Remember The Truth, and Reach out.