The big girl panties, professional weight tights, performance shoes, rhinestone festooned dresses and an alarming amount of foundational garments are unpacked and spread around the hotel room. This weekend is the 46th Harvest Moon Championship Ball and I am competing prepared to tame some Gremlins on the dance floor again. I am off to the Ball with my glass slippers and nerves of steel, well almost.
Today, I put on my rhythm dance armour, to Cha-Cha, Swing (East and West Coast), Rumba, Mambo, Bolero and Argentine Tango my way through the nerves I inevitably feel when performing. Yes, I will most likely always have a strong feeling of jitters about performing, but how I choose to interpret and react to the sensation of the jitters is entirely under my control. I am giving myself two options… sometimes its best to narrow down the options of ourselves like we do for kids: You can pick which pants you want to wear, the red ones or the purple ones, but you are going to wear pants… to help with making decisions, but I digress. I can a) let them over run me, or b) not. Now the second option which is the one I am choosing is not as simple as “not” implies. “Not”, option b, is the what, not the how of my Gremlin Taming Plan. My “not” is changing the normal choreography I would have followed and changing the steps and quality of movement I bring to the experience.
Let’s unpack the how my Gremlin Taming Plan, there are 5 parts.
Part 1: Acknowledge that what causes me concern – the jitter, nerves, performance anxiety whatever you want to call it- exist.
Part 2: Examine what story I am telling about them and look for evidence about why my concerns are founded and unfounded. No one likes to make mistakes, and it can be very disconcerting to make them in public, and YIKES! there are current and former professional national champions here, watching , glup… What am I nuts for thinking I can get out on the floor and look as if I belong here… Heavens to mercury what if I catch my heel and do a face plant instead of a spiral turn… blah, blah, blah.
Part 3: Weigh the consequences I get from my story. Well if you focus on what might happen, especially what bad things might happen you’ll never get to see what good things might happen.
Part 4: Retell my story in a new more positive, proactive voice. You have trained. You have practiced. You have some skills and more importantly you LOVE to dance. You like to watch other people dance and they in turn like to watch you to dance and we all want to do well here. The better I am the better they are, so really this is a win-win. And if for some bizarre reason you do a face plant in place of a spiral turn it will become a memorable cocktail story.
Part 5: Live out my new story and see how my energy shifts. I’ll let you know, but I think it will be something along the lines of this. I whirled and twirled, smiled, cha-cha’ed and contributed to a day filled with excitement, joy and encouragement for many people. It was a success and really gratifying and dang it a lot of fun.
There is no magic formula here and many other folks have outlined in their own words and ways how to begin shifting your normal patterns of thinking and doing. I offer the metaphor of choreography for your life and that you as an adult are the primary choreographer for your life. You can choose to do the same steps over and over, or you can choose to rework your movements to better suit the current rhythms and stretch your capacities. Will it always flow beautifully? No, not likely. Will the experience be interesting and beneficial? Yes. So go find your rhythm, listen to the story is offering and tell your best story now as well as you can.