- Mental Health»
It's OKAY to DANCE in Public
Wish You Felt Like This Everyday?
Feeling Good and Loving Life
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million,—experience mental illness in a given year according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).1 https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers
Well, that's a staggering statistic. The good news is that means we aren't alone if we're one of the almost 44 million. I personally think the number may be higher, since no one interviewed me about the topic. :)
There is an active campaign to take the stigma out of mental illness. What can we do to help ourselves? We can talk about it with others. Everyone struggles with something, and we have more pressures than ever in our fast paced world.
But what about general, everyday contentment? Are you happy with your life? Sometimes it's not what we have or who we are, it's what we tell ourselves. Are you sabotaging your own happiness? Most of us do it to some degree, but we can change that. It takes getting inside our own minds.
Years ago I found a book that opened my eyes to our inner dialogue. You know the dialogue and beliefs that you picked up in childhood? Don't let years of programming keep you from finding joy. Here are a few of the phrases we might have heard in childhood. We may now repeat them as part of our personal self-talk:
- "Why are you always so slow?"
- "You'd look so much prettier/more handsome if you lost a few pounds."
- "You never do anything right."
- "You'll never make that much money."
- "You're too fat, or old, or ugly to dance in public."
Any of these sound familiar? Many of us tell ourselves things much worse than the phrases above.
- "I'm a loser."
- "I'm not smart enough, pretty enough, or tall enough."
- "I'm not popular."
- "I'm not brave."
- "I'm silly. I act foolish."
- "I'm not worth loving."
- "It's always my fault. I'm always wrong."
I was in college majoring in psychology when I started to realize the things we tell ourselves are not always true. It was a few years later when I read What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Dr. Shad Helmstetter. You can find it on Amazon at the link listed below. I still have this book. It was the beginning of finding my inner strength and happiness.
Embrace Life Without the Baggage
But, Dancing in Public?
Yes, I believe we can learn to accept ourselves and love ourselves enough that we don't care what others think. If it makes you happy to dance, then who tells us we shouldn't dance? Society? Our parents? If we are overweight or lacking in grace, we've been programmed to think we are bothering others by dancing in public. By dancing I mean doing something we love that doesn't meet society's accepted standards of behavior.
Now, if you love belly dancing with your clothes off, I do think you should obey the laws of the land and do it in your own home. I'm not talking about pushing legal limits or shoving your life in everyone's face. I'm talking about accepting yourself and learning to tune out the negative voices in your head, including your own.
But how do we go from worrying about what everyone thinks to feeling confident enough to pursue our own happiness? One step at a time is the only way. You could start by reading Dr. Helmstetter's book if you're interested. You can also get help from a professional. Find a good therapist and explain your goal. The important thing is that you become aware of the voices in your head and examine what they say. Get rid of the negative, self-destructive thoughts and replace them with self-love and positivity.
If you aren't much of a reader, then finding short articles like this may help. I'll try to write a review of the Self-Talk book soon and put a link on this hub. A few important points to remember:
- Your brain doesn't know if what you tell yourself is true or not. It will believe whatever you tell it.
- If you say, "I'm clutzy," then the brain believes you. If you tell yourself you are worthwhile and successful, your brain believes you and creates more opportunities to showcase your talents.
- Start talking to yourself about your positive qualities and toss the negativity. It all starts by listening to what you hear in your head.
I read another blog the other day that took this idea even further. I absolutely love this: "An amazing realization is that the thinker is not who you are. You are not your mind, and you are not the voices in your head. You are instead the conscious space that thought exists within. Go to the place of that space, and rest there as the background awareness of the activity." ~ Steven Bancarz.http://thespiritscience.net/2015/06/22/how-to-go-from-anger-to-happiness-in-3-seconds-mastering-your-energetic-state/
Does this make sense to you? Have you ever tried to meditate? You know those thoughts that keep coming when you're trying NOT to think them? Listen to them. Stop now and listen to the conversation in your mind. Listen for a full 2 minutes and write down some the main messages. Is that you talking? Is it all true? Is it what you want to tell yourself?
Now, step back from the inner chatter and just let it flow around you. You are NOT the words or the thoughts. You are the person listening and you can change your focus if you so desire. Just let yourself "BE" in that space. Practice it a few minutes or more each day.
When you hear the negative thoughts, don't argue or fight them, just let yourself exist for few moments. Follow them with what you want to hear. This is a good practice to help become more aware of the negative and positive influences you put on yourself.
If you had a very negative friend that treated you badly and who made you feel terrible every time you were around him or her, would you keep that friend? Now what if your worst friend is YOU? You know that saying: You're your own worst enemy. Only you can turn this around.
Don't Forget Brain Day in Your Workout Program
Thoughts Are Powerful
Our thoughts direct us more than some of us realize. It's a lifelong job to keep our mind pushing us in the right direction. So be kind, and gentle. Take time to learn how to nurture yourself with words. What we think can become our reality. Make a conscious choice about your self-conversation. If it makes you happy - Dance in Public. I do.
It took me years to understand that the reason I didn't dance in front of people was that I thought I was required to save them from me. I thought that I should only present what is aesthetically beautiful to the world, or I'd be a bad person. What about me, and my happiness? What did I care about strangers in the park? I didn't have to live their lives, and they didn't have to live mine.
Deciding to FEEL and LIVE are very empowering thoughts that can change your life. Take the first step. The next time you feel inhibited because someone might judge you as less than perfect, do it anyway. Do what feels good. Your positive energy will begin to change others around you. You are giving the world a gift by being yourself. The world needs you.
Are You Living to the Fullest?
How Often Do You Feel Happy With Your Life?
What to Say When You Talk To Yourself by Dr. Shad HelmStetter
Love Yourself Today - You Are Worth It
TAKE TIME today to love yourself. Feed yourself nutritious food. Take a moment to rest, or watch a sunset, or do something fun without guilt.
LISTEN to the programs in you head and make sure you are telling yourself what you want and deserve to hear.
LEAVE a comment below to keep the conversation going. What is the hardest part of loving yourself? Any advice for the rest of us?
© 2015 Lorena Wood