Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Not about You

On Saturday, I had an unusually large class.  I got really rattled by this for some reason and started messing up the choreography.  Fortunately, my clients have a great sense of humor and know we are dancing for fun, not to judge one another.  I had to mentally slap myself around and thought, “This is not about me!”  After that, I was fine.  And it isn’t about me.  I am just presenting a dance class that can be interpreted by anyone who is participating in any way that works for them.  I am inviting people to “come along.” 

I get worried when there are a lot of new people, and can’t help fretting.  Will they like it?  Will they come back?  I try to remind myself that not everyone, after all, is going to like my class. A client’s reaction is based on individual factors.  There’s only so much I can do.  

This reminds me of times when I mistakenly thought something was about me.  I was in a serious relationship with a man who seemed to have real problems with anyone I had a relationship with “apart” from him.  In other words, if he was not an original participant in the relationship, he didn’t like it. 

He acted out with surly, pouty behavior if, for instance, my family was visiting.  It was mortifying.  We were camping on a mountain with my relatives and I was seriously considering either jumping myself or pushing him off of it.  It was one of those “How-can-I-fake-my-own death- and-get-out-of-this-easily” kind of feelings.

I was angry, but thought I could “fix” it.  So I tried everything I could think of: talking about the situation; trying to bring him into the conversation more; ignoring him completely; getting really angry; showering him with attention.

NOTHING “worked.”  I finally realized that this behavior by my boyfriend had absolutely nothing to do with me!  I had no power over anyone.  I only had power over my own behavior.  Obviously, the relationship did not survive.  And I didn’t have to change my identity.

The point is: we are who we are.  When we present a dance class, a report at work, a piece of art, we have put our truth into it.  We can only do our best.  We are responsible for how we give a message, but we are not responsible and have no control over how a person reacts to our message.

The good news is: it is not always your responsibility or your fault.  In fact, it is probably not really about you at all.

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