The Hawk: I return at last, after fifteen years.
Edmund: And what have you been up to?
The Hawk: Waiting, plotting, nurturing my hatred and planning my revenge.
Edmund: So, you’ve kept yourself busy?
Wreaking your revenge
Within all dance scenes, one of the things that seems to cause most anguish is being “unfairly” rejected by a prospective partner, after we’ve asked them for a dance. We often retain the memory of rejection for a long time. It’s understandable, of course; we’ve been rejected. That’s never nice. But some people seem to take this one step further, with comments along the lines of “He / she’d better wait until I get good, then I can reject him / her. Mwah ha ha.” (OK, the “Mwah ha ha” may be silent).
We touched on this “I shall wreak my revenge” topic in the recent “Mindful Tango: Diving Deep, Flying High” workshop, and I thought I’d explore this more here (also, thanks to Terpsichorial Tangoaddict for addressing this issue in a recent post and jogging my memory).
Firstly, from a purely practical point of view, this doesn’t work. Revenge, it turns out, is not a good long-term motivator. If you’re spending all your time thinking and worrying about this, you’re not focussing on your own improvement. Good dancers become good because they want to be good dancers, because they are enjoy and are fulfilled by both learning and dancing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.
Secondly, though, and far more importantly, it’s emotionally damaging. We hold on to these bad experiences, we think about them, we obsess over them, we plan elaborate revenge fantasies about them. None of this is good for our own well-being, or for our own development.
Even when we tell ourselves that we’re using these as positive experiences – for example, when we try and learn “what we did wrong” – we are often still taking a path which anchors us to the past.
Let’s face it, there’s a very good chance that we did nothing wrong. Our desired partner may have been tired, may have wanted a break, may not have liked the music, or may simply not want to dance at that point. Within Tango, it’s everyone’s right to refuse a dance. The flip side of this is that people exercise this right, and sometimes they do so for reasons which seem capricious. Especially when we’re the ones being flipped.
Let it go
One of our key goals within Mindful Tango is to use loving kindness, within mindfulness, to help us let go of past negativity. To learn to accept – and then let go of – rejections, poor dances, mistakes or other bad dance experiences. And to bring ourselves to a point where we can enjoy ourselves dancing, all the time.