Return to site

Relationship with yourself

"Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer, the one I feed the most." Sitting Bull (Indian leader)

Recently, during the lecture on "Believes around emotions", I asked the participants to write down who or what they love or care about the most. Nearly no-one put herself/himself down and if I would be asked the same question, I probably wouldn't either. That made me think about self-love and how to cultivate it through daily self-talk. What kind of stories do we keep telling ourselves, how many voices are there, which dog are we feeding?

Let’s stroll through the multiple selves that live inside you, their conversations and ever present ambivalence which accompanies most of your self-talks prior to making a decision or resolving a problem.

broken image

Recognise your inner voices

In your inner world different parts of self coexist at the same time - the critic, the perfectionist, the worrier, the peace-maker, the optimist, the pessimist, the helper and many more. These are your multiple selves, some louder, some quieter, some always there and some just occasionally. Who to listen to - your inner child, your inner parent or the wise mind of you as an adult?

To start recognising different voices, you must first be an observer of your thoughts. The observer is a part of your self which is quiet, with no opinion, but can notice and is highly aware and present, it is your deepest conscious self. It will help you with your compassionate inquiry to recognise different inner voices and choose the self-talk which will elevate you.

The voice of your inner parent or guardian that brought you up is either critical or nurturing. The critical voice will speak from within you about rules, discipline, "must", "should", high expectations, demands, conditions, even possible punishment for not being obedient.

If your parents were or are nurturing, your inner talk will be influenced by unconditional acceptance, optimism, support, safety, hope, soothing thoughts and approval. You will feel competent to navigate through tough or challenging situations.

When you are told that you have to awaken your inner child, people normally refer to you becoming more spontaneous, curious, emotive, innocent, creative, playful, to sum up, free and joyful.

broken image

When your inner child is adaptive that means you are scared, influenced by a variety of conditions, labeled as not good enough. The adaptive inner child in you makes you think that you are ignored, not accepted or loved and left on your own.

The mature self is the person inside you with a wise mind, the adult you are right now. Your mature self is your stability, your wisdom that understands how to merge your reasonable and emotional mind into a wise mind. It is your true orientation, strength, your driving force to discover more about yourself. It helps you understand what it means to be a good human, to live a good life with integrity, values, compassion, honesty and courage to speak out the truth.

I was writing down a lecture the other day and it took me several hours to reduce a long text that I wrote during the pandemic to a few pages of what I thought was a perfect summary. Happy with the work done, I forgot to save it. Half a day’s work was gone. My inner parent and inner child in my head started to talk one over the other: "How can you be so stupid? It happened before and you didn't learn anything! You are not focused, what is wrong with you?" On and on...

The advantage of being older is that you become more merciful to yourself. After a couple of minutes of torturing myself I could tune in with my mature self that said: "Ok, it happens, we all lose attention and make mistakes. Have dinner now and then go back to the computer and do it all over again. It's not the end of the world." And I did. Surprisingly my memory worked very well and I could finish the job in a couple of hours, already knowing what I need to do. I figured out that the second version of the summary was even better than the original one. And I saved it :). In spite of the many inner voices during that day, my mature self brought me to the best outcome.

broken image

Conflicting voices

When voices in your head are conflicting, you normally feel confused or lost. Being in "two minds" can be very frustrating. If you say "yes" to the right, you will say "no" to the left. To stay or to go? This coexistence of positive and negative evaluations, pro and con something or someone is usually associated with emotional turmoil.

One of the decisions in the dance world that we have to make is which federation to belong to - WDSF, WDC or WDO. Not all leaders are happy with those members who simply want to stay cooperative and free to officiate where they feel they can contribute. Being loyal to the profession, to the dance itself is apparently not always enough. The idea of being loyal to a certain federation is often associated with being "owned" and conditioned by its administration.

Thirteen years ago WDSF and WDC split. Many experts were members of both, judging and teaching dancers in both organisations. They suddenly had to decide which way to go. Most of the decisions were made in relation to protecting their business, earning daily bread. That's how the reasonable mind decides.

It is also possible to make a decision by not listening to your mind and relying on your feelings. But what if your feelings or someone are mixed? Your feeling may say: "Stay in the federation where most of your students compete, don't leave them, stand with them". And then another feeling might say: "I don't want to lose my closest colleagues and go away from the federation where most of my teachers are, where I grew up as a dancer, teacher and judge." So there is a fight between the feeling of taking care of a student and the feeling of taking care of yourself, teacher's love versus self-love.

As a dancer you might have mixed feelings about your education. For example, who to take private lessons with, teachers that you respect and you want to learn from or teachers who often judge and will mark you better if you take lessons with them, but you don't really enjoy them.

We all live facing ambivalence, having thoughts and feelings that conflict. Head versus heart is another example of ambivalence. They say that the way from the head to the heart is the longest. When your reasonable and emotional mind meet, you start acting with your wise mind. Your wise mind will help you navigate difficult situations. Many situations in the dance world require deep reflective thinking, an open heart and honest self-talk.  

broken image

Top competitors and coaches have mostly made their decisions, but what about upcoming generations of young ones? How can we create an environment for them in which they can be brought up with trust in dance quality, human dignity, fair play and honesty? They need a healthy community, the best role models and guidance, they need all members of the community to have a wise mind.

So where to begin? Maybe with ourselves as each of us is a part of the dance community. It may take a long time before a solution is found, a lot of self-talk, self-reflection and constructive conversations with others, but with a lot of hope we can create a healthier environment for all.

Nurturing the wise mind with self-reflection

Establishing a good and healthy relationship with yourself requires consistent observation of your thoughts and feelings about yourself. Be a watcher of your thoughts. Only becoming more self-reflective will allow you to understand how you respond to the world and why you relate to yourself and others in a particular way. You can then take upgraded understanding into your connections with others.

Self-reflection will help you get rid of old patterns, defence mechanisms and unnecessary thoughts which might stand in your way. It is a kind of self-therapy. Introspection becomes especially relevant when you need to clarify your beliefs in a moment of doubt or uncertainty. Be careful, your mind is surprisingly good at coming up with rational explanations for the irrational behaviors you might engage in. We all have a "blind eye". I'm sure you've noticed that being a dancer, coach or a judge.

Take the lately so popular "match analysis" or workshops before major competitions as an example. Teachers who are at the same time judges are paid to participate and teach at those kinds of events, often organised by certain teams. The aim is to promote the couples and facilitate advantage on future competitions. How does that feel deep down for a dancer, teacher or judge? The wise mind will help you select the hat that you are supposed to wear in a specific situation.

Self-reflection will help you find out how truthful you are to yourself and how you compromise your own beliefs in order to achieve what you want. Without doubt the way you relate to yourself, how you befriend yourself, will impact your relations with others.

broken image

Self-love is the acceptance of yourself as you are, ability to see yourself with all weaknesses and imperfections and still hold yourself in high regard. Being respectful to yourself as you are is equivalent to self-esteem, loving openness towards yourself, understanding that you might fail often, but that doesn't make you a loser.

When you become aware of your mistakes, deficiencies, unnecessary coping and defence mechanisms, whatever you might consider your weaknesses, your wise mind is acting. You can always repair the damage and continue striving towards a better version of yourself.

Love is about the acceptance of our incompleteness and ability to connect with others, letting them love us and love them back. I couldn't write this blog without inspiration, expertise, help and love of others. I owe the acknowledgements to my teachers, colleagues, students, friends, my son, my niece, my mentor. They speak to you through my words.


broken image