I have begun to realize that life truly is a cha-cha! You take some steps forward, one back and forward again. It’s just going to have ups and downs so I now try to think of it as a dance.
Many years ago I found the book “The Dance of Anger,” by Harriet Lerner. The book is actually written with women in mind as we tend to silence our anger, deny it entirely or vent, in a way that doesn’t help us. My therapist at the time, Dr. Ellen recommended it. My mom and I were butting heads as I was going through my divorce at 33 years old. I was angry and scared and took it out on my mom. She was angry and scared for me and took it out on me. This book taught me about the dance. I needed to change my reaction (my steps) to her and that would cause her to ultimately have to change her reaction (or her steps). It was not easy. My mom is masterful at pushing my buttons, at least that is what I have always thought. In reality she holds a mirror up and forces me to look at myself. In certain situations, I don’t like what I see and I react negatively. I had to change the way I was reacting so that I could listen to her and realize that her observation, her comment, may actually help me. My mom’s honesty comes across as harsh, but her intent is love. I know that now. But there have been times i my life when I didn’t change my dance steps and I kept reacting to the same thing.
I learned a lot from the book and used it to not only change my relationship with my mom at that time, but have used it since. It has helped me with professional relationships as well. I have had to re-think how I react to some, so that we could get to constructive and productive dialogue instead of silence. Or worse yet, sniping. That doesn’t help anyone. The Dance of Anger certainly helped me in some challenging relationships.
But the dance is not just about relationships with others. The dance is about life. It is about our journey, our individual journey and the different paths we can take. We move forward and then perhaps a bit sideways, take a step back, and start again. Sometimes it is a line dance where we are in sync with everyone and everything around us. Sometimes it is a true cha-cha, forward and back, forward and back. Sometimes it is a waltz, beautiful and almost floating. And we should enjoy all of it. The steps back are ways of allowing us to try again. Perhaps choose differently.
I now see that all of my steps back have given me lessons and allowed me to do something different the next time. That has not been an easy lesson for me. Today I am more willing to let things naturally unfold and pay attention to what is happening, versus manipulating it, obsessing over it or ignore it. I have learned that one a few times. I have tended in the past to try to make things happen and have very little patience to let it be natural.
I understand the dance and no longer let the steps backward worry me. I know it means I need a lesson again, or the time isn’t right. But like the cha-cha, I keep moving and ultimately move forward.
I saw the following and thought of the dance…the understanding that you have a vision for your life, you need patience and persistent and understand that at times it is hard. And most of all to love, everyone else is going through the same cha-cha….or hustle!
“The first rule is to have vision for your life. The second is to believe in your ability to figure things out. The third is to have fun making your dreams happen no matter how hard it gets. The fourth is to be patient but always persistent. The fifth is to respect and love other people who are also playing this same game of life.”