The Dance Of Sabotage

There are some dreams that are so close to our heart, so delicate, so fragile, that to even whisper them out loud would have us trembling in our boots. There are those things that we care for so deeply, that we desire with so much of our being that we would rather keep them locked up in a back closet than to risk the chance of embracing them and failing.

And so, perhaps without even knowing, we begin the dance of sabotage. We know we love the thing but we lie to ourselves about exactly how much. When asked, what do you love more than anything else? The answer is clear. You feel it in your bones. But then, you shove it aside and choose something more practical. You probably don’t even realize you are doing it.

Because of this very sneaky internal defense tactic, it is much harder to admit what you deeply and truly love than it is to acknowledge what makes you feel deep pangs of jealousy. Therefore, I ask you to make good friends with your envy and jealousy, because they are the greatest communicators of your heart’s desires. Follow their lead, and ask them to teach you what you really truly desire but are too scared to admit.

It shouldn’t be too hard for you to guess what the thing is that I love the most. I’ve spent a lot of my life unconsciously making excuses for not committing to my passion. Here are a few:

I’m too fragile and I get sick too often

Dancers don’t make any money

I can’t tolerate the lifestyle

I don’t like competing

I’m not assertive enough

Dancers don’t make any money

I didn’t start when I was young enough

I don’t learn fast enough

There aren’t enough opportunities out there

I am not good enough

I don’t have the right body type

Dancers don’t make any money

I am not disciplined enough

Naturally with all of this negative programming hanging around in my subconscious, it was hard to truly love and embrace the thing. In my mid 20’s, with the help of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, the walls began to come down and I began to acknowledge the dancer that was an integral part of my being. Immersing myself in many forms of dance, and then eventually getting a masters in Dance/Movement Therapy, I was owning my calling to dance. But here is the thing: even as I acknowledged my love for dance, took responsibility for some of the programming I had fallen prey to, and even as I pursued a career involving the psychology of dance, peskier and even sneakier excuses continued to linger. Until very recently I was still finding excuses:

I don’t have a tango partner to perform with

Dancers don’t make money

I don’t have a tango leader to teach with

I can’t make a living as a dancer/teacher/performer

The people in my city don’t get what I do in Dance Energetics or Embodied Coaching

There are too many teachers already

Dancers don’t make money

It’s them not me

And whine, whine, whine, and so on…

Lies and excuses. All of them. Only thoughts keeping me from taking action on doing the thing that I love to do the most, the thing I was born to do, the thing that lights me up and lights up everyone around me when I’m doing it.

As soon as I uncovered these lies I was telling myself I was able to take action. I started to do performances even if the situation was not perfect and I started to teach even if the circumstances where not ideal. I was getting even further into owning my path as a dancer and taking the risk to pursue it.

Oh but these shadows, these fears, they still found a way. I had just started to perform with a local samba troupe and was feeling very excited to be able to perform on a very regular basis. I was offered an opportunity to teach weekly tango classes and was enthusiastically planning our curriculum and getting deeper into my skills as a tango leader. All of these things I’d been wishing for for so long—to perform regularly and to teach—were finally coming to fruition. I didn’t want to make a big fuss about it. You know, still trying to keep my heart tucked away in that closet, for fear that if I let it out it might get stepped on and disregarded.

Things were going great. I was at a tango marathon dancing my heart away all weekend, when things took a bit of a turn. I was walking leisurely to the coffee shop in my host’s neighborhood (in flat, sensible shoes, mind you) when all of a sudden a curb happened and I found myself flat on the ground with a banged up knee and what felt like a pretty twisted ankle. Amongst my pain, I laughed at the irony while looking up at the sky and asked “really? now?” I could almost feel God smirking. But I knew better than to blame it on the divine. This was either just an unfortunate, random twist of events (pun intended) or perhaps, upon further reflection, this was what Gay Hendricks calls an Upper Limit Problem.

So now, after a flash of potential success and fulfillment, my ability to teach is impeded, and I have to turn down multiple opportunities to perform samba and tango. Ain’t that a bitch? Wait, no. I know better than this. You can choose to believe in chaos or you can choose to believe in meaning. I believe in meaning, and I believe everything is a lesson.

The twist of my ankle was merely a step in the dance of sabotage. It was the universe’s way of handing back to me the limitations I still clung to about my ability to have what I truly desired. In The Big Leap, Hendricks calls this the Upper Limit problem and explains it in this way:

I have a limited tolerance for feeling good. When I hit my Upper Limit, I manufacture thoughts that make me feel bad. The problem is bigger than just my internal feelings, though: I seem to have a limited tolerance for my life going well in general. When I hit my Upper Limit, I do something that stops my positive forward trajectory.

Tolerance for feeling good? Why on earth would we have that? For one, we are creatures of comfort. It is often hard to change habits because the new habit or the new sensation feels unfamiliar. In the process of change we enter unknown territory and we often feel a little not like ourselves. It is no different with feeling good. If the positive feeling feels too unfamiliar, we might get a little jittery and want to return to our normal state of being, even if its ho hum or flat out crappy because well, it just feels like home.

Hendricks lays out some other reasons why we sabotage ourselves. In early childhood we often pick up some programming such as “I don’t deserve it because I’m fundamentally flawed” (usually for some unknown reason), “if I am successful I would end up all alone and leave people behind,” “If I am successful I will be an even bigger burden,” or “if I truly fulfill my potential I will outshine someone in my life.”

I can definitely dig in there and see that some of these thought patterns have jammed up my ability to really go for my dreams but I think there is an even bigger one at play. I have a tendency to put my eggs in many baskets and be a bit of a commitment-phobe in many aspects of my life. Because c’mon, if one fails, I’ve got back-up! So that is really the big one for me. If I really lay it on the line and go for it, and then I lose it, then what? And so the whole game becomes avoiding the thing you love because you are avoiding the pain of losing it. We all know how that story ends.

divineSo no more. My heart is open. It is worth the pain of losing. It is worth the pain of failing. Of falling. Of being laughed at. Of being ignored. Of being injured. Come with me on this journey. Find that pain you are avoiding and dance toward it with all of your heart.  
 
 

Your Divine Invitation

You’re invited to meet the Divine.
Nobody can resist an invitation like that!

Now, your choices narrow to two:
You can come to the Divine ready to dance.
Or
Be carried on a stretcher to the Divine Emergency Room.

–Hafiz

P.s. My ankle is healing beautifully.

 

 

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