Monthly Archives: November 2019

The Salsa of Life and Relationships

bachataperform
Six years ago I started dancing Salsa as a way to overcome my social anxiety and various insecurities.  Salsa became more than just a hobby. It taught me about life and relationships. Here’s my top 5 takeaways in my six years dancing (with probably tons of lessons to come as I continue my journey):

  1. You will always suck:
    That sounds bad but it keeps you humble. The more I practiced, the better I got. But the better I got the more I realized how much I didn’t know, how much I had yet to learn, and where I needed to improve.

    Some people are fine living a mediocre life and dancing “just OK.” Some people are actually perfectly content being “meh”. There are others who expect more of themselves and their partners.

                            If you like “meh”, expect “meh” from your partner.
    If you like greatness, expect greatness from your partner.

    I expect greatness and my dance director knows that. My director forces me to spend hours on my basic, which can be extremely frustrating. It’s a long and awkward process having to slow down and make sure your foundation is set before you try to challenge things you aren’t ready for. When you can’t even do a good basic (which is still my main issue), your partner is forced to slow down to match your level, which makes for a less-than-enjoyable dance leaving both people feeling “meh” in the end.

  2. Leadership isn’t a position that puts you in control of people; leadership is a responsibility to be present for others and inspire:
    Just because you are playing the role as Leader (either as a Lead in dance or a director of a dance team), doesn’t make you a great leader. True leadership inspires. One of my favorite quotes on leadership by Simon Sinek:

                                 “Leading is not the same as being a leader.
    Leading means others are willing to follow, not because
    they have to, but because they want to.”

    What do you bring to the table? Why would anyone want to follow you? Why waste your time or theirs? Don’t make this all about you. Maybe you aren’t a great Leader or Follower (YET!!). That’s ok. Let your partner know where you are in the game. Give them a heads up as to what you have to offer. Who knows? With such transparency, they’ll probably still be happy to dance with you.

  3. You don’t need a partner to enjoy the dance:
    After a few years dancing with a partner I realized that I had a lot of work to do on myself. My technique was off, my basic was shit (still is), and I couldn’t for the life of me find my core (and I still struggle with that). So I decided to stop dancing with a partner and join a ladies team in which I would be forced to own ALL my flaws by myself. I could no longer blame my mistakes and weaknesses on my partner. I could no longer ask someone else to help me keep my balance.

    And when you’re ready to go back into partner work, there’s still moments when you gotta be on your own. In salsa, we call it “shines”. It’s your moment to shine. Show what you’ve got. Show what you’ve worked for. Let your partner shine as well. When the two of you are able to shine together, but separately, it’s a fun, exciting, and beautiful dance the whole world wants to see.

  4. Trust:
    No relationship, whether it be a 3-minute dance or a long-term romantic relationship, can survive without trust. We trust that our partner chose to dance with us because they wanted to invest that time in us.

                                    NOT because it made them look or feel good.
    NOT because they were hoping to get lucky later…
    NOT because it made them feel guilty if they didn’t.
    And definitely NOT because they were bored and you were the only
    thing available at the moment…

    That said, before we can trust anyone, we MUST be able to trust ourselves. One of the biggest reasons we don’t trust others is because we don’t trust ourselves. But what is trust? Trust isn’t expecting that no one ever will ever disappoint you, that nothing will ever go wrong, or others will always make you happy.

                    Trust is knowing that you have what it takes inside of you to show up
    as the best version of yourself in whatever moment,
    and get through the dance knowing you did your best.

    Trust is having faith that the process you’ve chosen to engage in
    will work out exactly as it should
    because you’ve done the best you can in that moment.

    It may not be perfect,
    Maybe it was the worst dance of your life.
    It may even end up being the best dance of your life!!
    But you can trust that you gave it your all and that made it a success.

    Everything else is completely out of your hands. How your partner dances is on them. How they juggle their own insecurities and weaknesses is also on them.  This kinda follows the previous point, which is that you gotta do your part and work on yourself. But trust is a two way street. We want to trust that the person we choose to dance with is also doing their best. We can usually tell fairly early on when they are just not into it. Regardless, if you trust yourself, you have more patience within yourself, allowing your partner the space and time to work on themselves, express themselves, and feel the joy of dance.

  5. Life is the dancer. YOU are the DANCE:
    One of the biggest challenges we all face in life is thinking that we are in control and that we know what is best for others or how things “should be”. We believe we know what is “right” and judge everything else as wrong. We determine in our minds that “Once I make things or people change… once I convince that person they are wrong…once I get what I want… then I can finally be happy. I can finally be at peace.”

    We are at a constant war within ourselves and reality, only to be drastically disappointed when we find out that what we thought we wanted was NOT the key to our happiness.

    Through dance, I learned that “life lives within me” and I am a mere vessel. The more I got to know my fellow dancers, I realized that life was expressing itself artistically in all of us, in such a unique way, and it was ALL a beautiful collection of dances. Life dances through us all, it uses us to express itself and makes us the choreography. We can choose to be “just another dance” or we can choose to be the most beautiful, thoughtful, and inspiring choreography that life can dance through.

Feeling Guilt…A Wasted Emotion

The ending of a relationship will naturally lead to many feelings but the biggest one we hold on to  isn’t anger or sadness, but guilt. After feeling shock, sadness, and anger, at one point you will feel guilt:

“Sh*t… I really f*ed up this time….”
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“What could I have done differently to make it work out?”
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“If only I did xyz, then things would be different.”
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“Even though it’s been over for a while, maybe if I do xyz, then maybe my ex-partner would change…or come back to me…”
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“I need to prove my love for my partner and give what my partner is asking for, even though it hurts me; even though it means I have to go against who I am and what I want… BUT then my partner will see and feel my love and everything will miraculously get better!!”

Years of self-sacrifice and martyrdom go by and nothing we do makes it better. The relationship is still unhealthy, maybe even toxic.

“My partner isn’t changing to be the person I need them to be.”
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“Maybe my partner is happy that I changed, but I’m miserable! My partner has everything they wanted from me, but I’ve lost all I am and all I wanted…”

Even after the relationship has run its course, we keep on brainstorming, finding creative ways to make a relationship that wasn’t meant to be, BE.

Even when it all falls apart, as it inevitably does, we feel guilty.

Whether you left, or your partner left, you can’t help but feel guilty… THIS IS NORMAL.

“How did I let this happen? What can I do to fix it? There’s gotta be something I can do to make it better!”

Feeling guilty for something you thought was bad (whether it actually was bad or it wasn’t) is a wasted emotion. Do you feel like if you take on the entire blame it could have changed the outcome? If you do take on full blame will it enable you to go back and make things work out?

Alternatively, if you (gasp!) ALLOW the other person to own THEIR share of the problem (which likely won’t ever happen) will it make you feel less responsible and you’re dead set on stealing that responsibility from them because you don’t respect them enough to let them own their part? Maybe that would make you feel even more guilty?

Are you playing the HERO? Maybe even thinking you can play God, trying to save or spare the other person from feeling bad or guilty?

Imagine if your best friend or even your daughter/son was in the same situation. What would you tell them? What would you advise them?

You would probably tell them that rather than piss and moan and sulk in your one-man pity party, to take responsibility for only YOUR part of the problem, respect your ex/partner to own THEIR part, and make conscious choices moving forward that allow you to live and be your best version of yourself.

Consider what you gained from that experience. As you write your list of pros and cons, ask yourself: was it worth it? Would you prefer to go back to what it was? Because if you think there is any other option (going back to a fantasy version) you’re still in the denial phase… sorry… 😦

Feeling guilty is basically an effective way of punishing yourself. Do you like punishing yourself? Do you like making yourself suffer? Your ego convinces you that you deserve all sorts of punishment for what you’ve done. It convinces you that you have some sort of control…over the inevitable pitfalls of life and control over others. And dude…that’s just sick…

But think about it… Is it possible that the end of this relationship was a pathway to a second chance to make things right within yourself and others?

Yeah, maybe things didn’t turn out the way you wanted. THAT’S LIFE. GET OVER IT.

Look at what you have in front of you right now and tell yourself the truth. You wanted to prove your love, but are you even giving yourself the love you deserve? How can you love others when you can’t even love yourself? Why would anyone want to be loved by someone who has absolutely no respect, dignity, and love for themselves?

Look in front of you. Who is by your side? Who is supporting you? Are you allowing others to love you? Or are you DEAD SET on making this person who clearly does NOT love you, love you?

You’ve spent so much time believing that things SHOULD be different. But how does that belief serve you? If you let go, do you think you’re letting yourself off the hook? Do you feel that at some level, by not sacrificing your dignity and dreams, you would be dishonoring the love you have for this person?

STOP.

Think…

Where did the breakdown in the relationship happen? Was it suddenly? Or was it a constant issue? Are you feeling guilty about the loss? Or are you actually feeling bad for the problems in the relationship you continued to have and hold on to but were not able to fix?

At one point, you’re going to have to face reality. You’re going to have to look at what is in front of you and accept the fact that sh*t happens, things don’t always go the way we planned or hoped, even when we gave it our all, and even if we “kinda gave it our all”… and THAT IS LIFE.

Almost no one walks into a relationship thinking “gee, I hope this doesn’t work out”. No, we all want to love and be loved and do our best with the time and person we are given.

But you gotta know that accepting reality isn’t the same as liking it. You don’t have to LIKE the reality that is in front of you…but you do have to accept it. You just have to stop lying to yourself that it is any different, or that it “should” be any different. THIS IS YOUR REALITY. Suck it up. Own it. Move on. Be better…

So what’s stopping you? Do you feel bad about doing what is right for you? If so, ask yourself why. Why are you incapable of doing what is best for you? Why are you incapable of loving yourself? Why do you think you don’t deserve a HEALTHY LOVING RELATIONSHIP?

Self love is feeling love and compassion for yourself.
Self love is a concept.
After self-love comes self-care.
Self-care is ACTION.

That’s where we usually get stuck. How do we actually love ourselves? Isn’t that selfish? Won’t that make me feel MORE guilty?

Not at all.

Self-care is the simple act of proving that you care enough for yourself to take care of yourself. It’s the small acts of kindness, like getting more organized, maybe seeking therapy, maybe eating better, practicing patience, and maybe even forgiving yourself

Feeling Guilt is a wasted emotion. It’s time to move on.
Don’t wanna move on? Then stop complaining. guilt

 

A Complicated Relationship

lokeystemcell

These days I’ve been struggling in my relationship with Reality. Reality doesn’t do the things I want it to. Reality doesn’t tell me the things I want to hear. Sometimes I think Reality is intentionally punishing me. Oftentimes, Reality will even take things away from me that I really wanted to hold on to. Sometimes I wonder if our relationship is one-sided because every time I try to argue with Reality, I always lose, 100% of the time. Reality never apologizes. It just is…unapologetically Reality.

One of the biggest reasons I struggle with having a meaningful relationship with Reality is that I’ve lied to myself, telling myself that if I’m friends with Reality then I can’t also be friends with, “My Ideals and Preferences”.

Notice “My Ideals and Preferences” goes by a much longer name… she’s so complicated, always changing, and sometimes she just seems to be all over the place… Reality is so much simpler, but so stubborn. These two rarely get along because they clash so much, yet both are such an important part of me. I end up having to be the middle man, trying to help them come to a peaceful resolution, and that is not an easy task.

“My Ideals and Preferences” tells me Reality is mean and ugly. Reality tells me “My Ideals and Preferences” are the cause of my suffering. Both demand that I pick one.

To be honest, I like hanging out with “My Ideals and Preferences” more than “Reality” because “My Ideals and Preferences” make me feel justified in doing and thinking what I do. In fact, I can usually get away with a lot of stuff that isn’t good for me by listening to “My Ideals and Preferences”. Unfortunately, this causes a lot of conflict with my personal relationships, my professional relationships, my career, my family, my children, and can sometimes negatively affect my physical health.

That’s when I realize that maybe “Reality” isn’t that bad after all, even if I’m not seeing or getting what “My Ideals and Preferences” gives me.

When I embrace Reality, Reality helps me come up with realistic, effective, and long-term solutions to my problems. Reality helps me see things as they are, which enables me to deal with life much more effectively. Reality is quite different from My Ideals and Preferences, but what I’ve come to realize is, Reality is actually much kinder than the story My Ideals and Preferences say it is.

However, “My Ideals and Preferences” will always have a special place in my heart. My Ideals and Preferences remind me who I am, encourage me, motivate me, and make me feel brave when pursuing the unknown. She also reminds me to take good care of myself when Reality gets to be a bit too overwhelming…

It’s on me to make this relationship a healthy one, even if it is a complicated one.

wonderfullife