It’s Time to Get Ugly!

You may know that I like dancing.

In fact, I LOVE dancing.

Not the learn a routine, classically trained dancing.

Just me and the music, cutting loose and throwing some shapes.

It’s like my body craves to move that way and apparently it has done even before I could walk.

I will often be dancing as I get ready for work, or I’ll have a kitchen disco as I prepare dinner.

But one day, unexpectedly, this stopped.

A number of years ago I discovered 5 Rhythms.

For me it was a god send. A place I could go and dance each week without having to dress up and go to a club.

But something happened a few years back. Something unexpected. I stopped enjoying the dance.

I couldn’t work out why.

5 Rhythms can help surface old unhelpful perceptions which I expected, but this discomfort was stopping me dancing, both in class and at home.

I found excuses not to go each week.

The dancer stopped dancing???

I wasn’t happy about it. So, after a few weeks, I decided to face whatever this was head on. I wasn’t looking forward to it. But I also wasn’t looking forward to a life of no dancing, so something had to give.

I forced myself to go, determined to listen to my thinking AND see what was going on. What I heard surprised me.

I wouldn’t have classed myself as a perfectionist, I can be too lazy for that game! 🙂 However, the thinking I heard was telling me that I wasn’t dancing right. Neither perfectly nor gracefully, and therefore I was getting it wrong. What followed was an internal barrage of abuse!

No wonder I had been avoiding coming, who would want to listen to that? Who would want to feel that?!

I was expecting myself to dance as funkily perfect as a trained dancer, even though I wasn’t!

Even during the warm-up, which is a chance for people to come to the dance floor and leave their day behind, I could hear these thoughts. The more caught up in the thinking I became, the less connected to my body I felt, and the more awkward I was with moving.

“I should look more like that.”

“I wish my crappy body would move like that.”

My thinking was busy comparing whatever I was doing to others. One second it was making me better than them, and seconds later chastising me for being worse than someone else! I thought I was tired from the movement, but it seems I was tired from the battle in my head.

Now that I could hear what was going on, I had a choice. I could either believe it or think something different. I chose the latter. And got curious. What would the dance be like if I had the permission to get things wrong? To look daft, fall over and make mistakes. What if I gave myself the permission to be ugly?

Sweat. Go bright red. Just dance.

The moment I took this motto to heart, I felt a weight drop and the fun escalate.

I remembered the motto for my art classes too.

And permission to be ugly meant I painted no matter what I thought of the painting.

This has been up for about 3 months now, as I love it even with the mistakes!

And my rule was that it was to go on a wall in the house for at least a month, so I could focus on the effort and learning, not perfection!

New Year’s Eve 2019, I attended a 5 Rhythms gathering, and was looking forward to dancing. The music was playing as people arrived, chatted and ate. And the dance floor had one lone dancer on it… me! I realised just how much this motto had helped change my life as I swung myself around the dance floor, sweating, smiling and laughing to myself (completely sober btw!).

The motto has continued to permeate various areas of my life, from writing to public speaking, from cooking to DIY! ALL of them have room to develop, and as growth is high on my values list, that will always happen. But now there is freedom and full on permission to be ugly! 

Where in your life could you use this motto?

Or what would be a helpful motto for you to have in your life?