Stop Striving For Perfection

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I have problems with perfectionism in dancing. If I’m really being honest, I’ll admit that perfectionism rears its ugly ….errr…immaculately coiffed head in other parts of my life too.  I worry about what other people think of my dancing. I worry about being judged. I’ve got an honest to God complex, and sometimes it’s really frustrating.

I used to dance competitively, but stopped a few years ago. Why? It was no fun. It goes beyond that. It was hell. And it made dancing, something I really love, into a horror. Why’d I do it? Peer pressure. And because competing gave me access to talented, motivated partners who wanted to work hard and get better. I wanted the support of the competitive dance community. I didn’t know how to leave the competing out of the equation.

Last night, in bolero technique class, we began by working the basic step. And as often happens while focusing on details and striving for perfection, my dancing started to get worse. I worried about the teacher and other students watching me and judging me. Oh my GOD she’s terrible. Look at that, she can’t keep her balance and dance at the same time. Better not let her chew gum, she might fall down.

I’m  happy to report that I gave myself a shake and a talking to. I reminded myself that I dance my best when I dance with confidence, that I already KNEW this basic step and had done it for years. that if I would just let my brain get out of the way of my body and allow my body to move I’d be so much happier and dance so much better. And it was true.  My basic got better and, once I stopped trying so hard, I was actually able to apply some of what we were learning.

There’s a life coaching website I visited recently that has a whole section devoted to dancing with confidence. I like what they have to say, particularly Step 5:

  • Don’t let the search for perfection get in the way of your enjoyment of the dance. You will never dance with confidence if you continually focus on the negative. Focus on the positive.
  • Concentrate on how much you CAN do, not on what you can’t do – yet. Close down the voice inside your head that continually tells you that you are a klutz and that you cannot do anything right.
  • Tell it to “Shut up” then get on and dance. We would not dream of speaking to other people the way we speak to ourselves – so don’t put up with it for a moment longer

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