Category Archives: Better Dancing

Quester Gas Commercial features Irish Dancers

Yes, you read that right. The latest Quester Gas commercial features a handful of Irish dancers.

From Rinceoiri.

ThermWise: diving, surgery and Irish dance are hard. Irishdanceutah.com

Our dancers got a pretty decent amount of screen time too. Watch for them at the end of the clip, starting at around 21 seconds in. Not too shabby for a 30 second commercial, amiright?

The commercial titled ThermWise: diving, surgery and dance are hard stars Daryn Tufts, a local celebrity and filmmaker, as Therm. You can see Daryn, as himself, at Salt Lake Comic Con’s FanX at the end of this month.

“Therm, Questar’s energy wise guy, shows examples of things like diving, surgery and even dancing can be hard,” the commercial’s YouTube channel states; while, “Saving energy can be simple.”

Irish dancing can be hard (at one point, the girls were dancing on apple boxes to get the right height for closeups)but we know how much fun it can be! The dancers had a great time dancing on stage, teaching Daryn a few movements, and playing it up for the cameras. The puffy shirts? Well I think the guys could have done without those, but when campy is what they want, campy is what they get!

This isn’t the first time Rinceoiri Don Spraoi Irish Dancers have been in front of the camera. A few of our littlest dancers were featured in the DVD Zack & Zoey Explore the Articles of Faith, where they were able to work with Golden-Globe nominated composer Lex de Azevedo (Saturday’s Warrior, My Turn on Earth, Gloria, Hosanna) and the producers of Signing Time.

A lot of hard work, makes for a lot of fun. Dancing for fun is what we do best and it looks like people are starting to take notice.

 

Tips for Living the Golden Rule For Irish Dancers

One of the few rules I try to live my life by, and fail every day trying I might add, is the Golden Rule.

Tips for living the golden rule for Irish dancers. How to live a better life by being kind.

I love the simplicity of the Golden Rule, its tendency to make everyone I interact with happier … and its tendency to make me happier as well.

It’s true: the rule of treating others as you would want to be treated in their place will ultimately lead to your own happiness.

Let’s say that you apply the Golden Rule in all of your interactions with other people, and you help your fellow dancers, you treat your family with kindness, you go the extra mile for your teacher, you help a stranger in need.

Now, those actions will undoubtedly be good for the people you help and are kind to … but you’ll also notice a strange thing. People will treat you better too, certainly. Beyond that, though, you will find a growing satisfaction in yourself, a belief in yourself, a knowledge that you are a good person and a trust in yourself.

Those are not small dividends. They are huge. And for that reason — not even considering that our world will be a better place if more people live by this rule — I recommend you make the Golden Rule a focus of your actions, and try to live by it to the extent that you can. I do, and although I’m not perfect and find myself making mistakes, I try.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some practical tips for living the Golden Rule in your daily life:

  1. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of another person. Any person. Loved ones, fellow dancers, people you meet on the street. Really try to understand, to the extent that you can, what it is like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do.
  2. Practice compassion. Once you can understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, learn to want to end their suffering. And when you can, take even a small action to somehow ease their suffering in some way.
  3. How would you want to be treated? The Golden Rule doesn’t really mean that you should treat someone else exactly as you’d want them to treat you … it means that you should try to imagine how they want to be treated, and do that. Imagine an interaction with a dancer from a different Irish dance school. You share a common love; Irish dance. So when you put yourself in their shoes (for us as Irish dancers that could be their ghillies), ask yourself how you think they want to be treated. Ask yourself how you would want to be treated if you were in their situation.
  4. Be friendly. When in doubt, follow this tip. It’s usually safe to be friendly towards others. Of course, there are times when others just don’t want someone acting friendly towards them, and you should be sensitive to that. You should also be friendly within the bounds of appropriateness. But who doesn’t like to feel welcome and wanted? Especially in the sometimes harsh Irish dance community.
  5. Be helpful. This is probably one of the greatest weaknesses of our community. Sure, there are many people who go out of their way to be helpful, and I applaud them. But in general there is a tendency to keep to yourself, and to ignore the difficulties of others. Don’t be blind to the troubles of others, especially in dance classes. Ask to help out.
  6. Be courteous in competition. Another weakness of our community. While I don’t personally compete (no one in our school does), there are few times when I’ve seen Irish dancers as selfish as in a competition. We don’t want to give up the right of way, we cut people off, we back-bite, and give each other stink-eye. Perhaps it’s the isolation of the feis. Most of us certainly don’t act that rude in person. So try to be courteous in competition.
  7. Listen to others. Another weakness: we all want to talk, but very few of us want to listen. And yet, we all want to be listened to. So take the time to actually listen to another person, rather than just waiting for your turn to talk. It’ll also go a long way to helping you understand others.
  8. Overcome prejudice. We all have our prejudices, whether it’s based on skin color, attractiveness, height, age, gender, Irish dance school … it’s human nature, I guess. But try to see each person as an individual human being, with different backgrounds and needs and dreams. And try to see the commonalities between you and that person, despite your differences.
  9. Stop criticism. We all have a tendency to criticize others, whether it’s people we know or people we see on television. However, ask yourself if you would like to be criticized in that person’s situation. The answer is almost always “no”. So hold back your criticism, and instead learn to interact with others in a positive way.
  10. Don’t control others. It’s also rare that people want to be controlled. Trust me on this one. It sucks. So don’t do it. This is a difficult thing, especially if we are conditioned to control people. But when you get the urge to control, put yourself in that person’s shoes. You would want freedom and autonomy and trust, wouldn’t you? Give that to others then.
  11. Be a child. The urge to control and criticize is especially strong when we are adults dealing with teaching children. In some cases, it’s necessary, of course: you don’t want the child to hurt herself, for example. But in most cases, it’s not. Put yourself in the shoes of that child. Remember what it was like to be a child yourself, and to be criticized and controlled. You probably didn’t like it. How would you want to be treated if you were that child?
  12. Send yourself a reminder. Email yourself a daily reminder (or set a notification on your phone) to live your life by the Golden Rule, so you don’t forget. Or give yourself some other reminder throughout the day so that you don’t forget to follow the Golden Rule in all your interactions with others. Perhaps a fake golden ring on your keychain or laced into your hard shoes?
  13. Post it on your wall or make it your home page. The Golden Rule makes a great mantra, and a great poster.
  14. Rise above retaliation. We have a tendency to strike back when we’re treated badly. This is natural. Resist that urge. The Golden Rule isn’t about retaliation. It’s about treating others well, in spite of the way they choose to treat you. Does that mean you should be a doormat? No … you have to assert your rights, of course, but you can do so in a way that you still treat others well and don’t strike back just because they treated you badly first.
  15. Be the change. Gandhi famously told us to be the change we want to see in the world. Well, we often think of that quote as applying to grand changes, such as poverty and racism and violence. Well, sure, it does apply to those things … but it can also apply on a much smaller scale: to all the small interactions between Irish dancers. Do you want dancers to treat each other with more compassion and kindness? Then let it start with you. Even if the Irish dance community doesn’t change, at least you have.
  16. Notice how it makes you feel. Notice how your actions affect others, especially when you start to treat them with kindness, compassion, respect, trust, love. But also notice the change in yourself. Do you feel better about yourself? Happier? More secure? More willing to trust others, now that you trust yourself? These changes come slowly and in small increments, but if you pay attention, you’ll see them.

To end today’s post, I leave you with this:

“May I gain no victory that harms me or my opponent.
May I reconcile friends who are mad at each other.
May I, insofar as I can, give all necessary
help to my friends and to all who are in need.
May I never fail a friend in trouble.” ~Eusebius of Caesarea

Happy dancing!

Brooke

 

How to Clean Out Your Irish Dance Bag

Irish dancers are a messy lot. Not as messy as the ballerinas I know (I dance in a ballet studio so I have first-hand knowledge) but pretty close. Once upon a time, my Irish dance bag was cluttered with all the things I currently needed — as well as dozens of things I didn’t: notes on steps, old performance programs, socks, bandages, bobby pins (kirby grips), hair elastics, old tights, ghillies, hard shoes, snacks, cds. I was too busy to organize it, and if I ever did get it cleaned out, it would pile up soon after.

performance. How to clean out your dance bag and how it helps to make you a better dancer.

It’s a different story today. These days my bag is always clear, except for my shoes, socks, and maybe a notebook and pen for jotting down notes, ideas, or to-dos as they come up. It’s a liberating feeling … it calms me … it reduces stress and chaos … it definitely makes things easier to find.

How did I make the transformation? Well, it wasn’t an easy journey, and I’ve improved over the years, but the basic steps are outlined below. The important thing to remember is that you must have a system in place, and you must teach yourself to follow the system. Otherwise, you just clean your dance bag, and it gets messy again.

Here’s the system:

1. First, take everything in your dance bag and put it in one big pile. Put it in your “in basket” (I use a cardboard box. If you don’t have one, pile it next to you or something). From now on, everything that comes in must go in your in basket, and you process everything as below.

2. Process this pile from the top down. Never re-sort, never skip a single item (even tiny elastics count), never put an item back on the pile. Do what needs to be done with that item, and then move on to the next in the pile. The options: trash it, put it away, do it, or put it on a list to do later. In that order of preference. Do it if it takes 2 minutes or less to complete. If it takes more, and you can’t trash or put it away, then put it on a list of to-dos.

3. Repeat at least once a week to keep your bag clear. The end of the day is best, but I tend to process and tidy up after Irish dance class. Once you’ve processed your pile, your dance bag is clear. You’ve trashed or somehow put everything where it belongs (not under your bed or stashed in a drawer). Keep it that way. You must follow the system above: put everything in your inbox, then take action on each item in the inbox with one of the steps listed.

It’s that simple. Have a phone number on a post-it? Don’t leave it in your bag. Put it in your phone or contacts program. Have a step combo you need to work on later? Don’t keep the note you wrote about it in your bag. Put it on your to-do list. What about all those hair accessories? Baggies work to keep everything together where you can find it.

Leaving stuff in your dance bag is procrastination (and as a procrastinator, I should know). If you put it off until later, things will be sure to pile up in your dance bag. Deal with them immediately, make a decision, take action.

What I’ve described is a good habit to learn, but it takes time to learn it. You’ll slip. Just remind yourself, and then do it. Soon it’ll be a habit you have a hard time breaking. And trust me, once you’re used to your dance bag being clear, you won’t want to break this habit.

What’s in your dance bag, fellow Irish dancers? And do you think it makes a difference on what you carry if you’re an adult or not? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy dancing!

Brooke

 

How Living a Life of Gratitude Makes You Happy

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” – Meister Eckhart

How living a life of gratitude makes you happy.

Most days, I try to hold a 2-minute gratitude session. I simply sit or kneel, with no distractions, close my eyes, and think about what I’m grateful for and who I’m grateful for.

I don’t do it every day, but let me tell you, on the days I do it, it makes me very happy. Why should that be? Why should the simple act of thinking about who and what I’m grateful for make such a big difference in my life?

Just a few reasons:

  • Because it reminds you of the positive things in your life. It makes you happy about the people in your life, whether they’re loved ones or just a stranger you met who was kind to you in some way.
  • Because it turns bad things into good things. Having problems at dance? Be grateful you can dance. Be grateful you have challenges, and that life isn’t boring. Be grateful that you can learn from these challenges. Be thankful they make you a stronger person.
  • Because it reminds you of what’s important. It’s hard to complain about the little things when you give thanks that you are alive and healthy. It’s hard to get stressed out over not getting that step of your treble jig down when you are grateful you have the opportunity to dance in the first place.
  • Because it reminds you to thank others. I’ll talk about this more below, but the simple act of saying “thank you” to someone can make a big difference in that person’s life. Calling them, emailing them, stopping by to say thank you … just taking that minute out of your life to tell them why you are grateful toward them is important to them. People like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you little, but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will make you happy.

What do I give thanks for in my little gratitude session?
It changes from day to day. I thank my loved ones, for all they do for me. I thank strangers who’ve shown me little acts of kindness. I thank God, for the life he’s given me. I thank people around the world for the things they’ve done to make the world better. I thank myself, for things that I’ve been able to do (it’s important to recognize your own accomplishments). I thank my amazing Irish dance teacher, for the encouragement  he has given me,  for the time he has given me, for the example of love and kindness he shows me through his interaction with other dancers.

How to Live a Life of Gratitude
The thing is, simple acts of gratitude don’t cost you much (especially once you get over the initial discomfort some people feel with thanking others). But they can make a huge difference.

If you’re interested in living a life of gratitude, here are my suggestions:

  • Morning gratitude session. Take 2-3 minutes each morning to give thanks, to whoever or whatever you’re grateful for. You don’t have to do anything, other than close your eyes and silently give thanks. This one act can make a huge difference.
  • Say thank you. When someone does something nice for you, however small, try to remember to say thank you. And really mean it.
  • Call to say thanks. Sometimes you might think about something nice that someone did for you. Perhaps you remember during your gratitude session. When you do, pick up the phone and call the person, just to say thanks. Let them know what they did that you’re grateful for, and why you appreciate it. It only takes a minute or two. If it’s too early to call, make a note to call later. Even better is telling them in person, if you happen to see them. Almost as good is a thank-you email — keep it short and sweet.
  • Give thanks for “negative” things in your life. There are always two ways to look at something. Many times we think of something as negative — it’s stressful, harmful, sad, unfortunate, difficult. But that same thing can be looked at in a more positive way. Giving thanks for those things is a great way to remind yourself that there is good in just about everything. Problems can be seen as opportunities to grow, to be creative.

Let me leave you with a thought on gratitude that I’ve always found … well, perfect:

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown ~

Happy dancing!

Brooke

 

How to be a SMART Irish Dancer

Every Irish dancer wants to be a good dancer. Being a SMART Irish dancer is even more important and will help you dance in a much better way. Here’s how.

GOAL SETTING

I’m a goal-centered person. I like setting a goal, making a list of action items, working my butt off, and achieving the goal. I had assumed that most people are similar to me, especially in the Irish dancing community. Guess what? Not everyone loves a list to cross off and not everyone has a goal in mind when it comes to their dancing. Not everyone has an idea of what “success” looks like for them.

Mind. Blown.

When talking to other dancers I found that most wanted to learn a step or dance, but that was as far as the goal went. They didn’t really have an idea formed in their mind of what the goal was. They didn’t define the goal. I think a lot of dancers skip that step; defining their goals. Really, how can you obtain any kind of success if you don’t know exactly what your goals are?

In my experience, there are just two simple keys to successful goal setting. And this works for any goal, not just goals concerning Irish dancing.

You need to examine why you’re dancing/whatever it is you’re doing.
You need to discover which SMART goals will help you achieve success.

If I asked you why you dance, what would you say?

“I dance because I’m passionate about Irish culture and tradition and want to share that with others.”
“I dance because I really enjoy a competitive atmosphere and want to win.”
“I dance because I dream about being able to dance in a big Irish dance show.”
“I dance because I have a fun time and enjoy being around others.”

The fact is this: WHY you dance is just as important as WHAT you want to accomplish.

I’ll repeat that just to make sure I’m getting the point across.

WHY you dance is just as important as WHAT you want to accomplish.

The goals you set must be simpatico with your purpose for dancing. If you’re setting goals all willy-nilly that aren’t related to your true purpose, you won’t “feel” like you’re successful. Even if you knock your goal outta the park.

Take a minute and write down the reasons you dance. Any and every reason you can think of. Even the narcissistic ones. I’ll wait.

***

So there it is in black and white. Your purpose for dancing. Now let’s get to why you’re reading this post and talk about what really makes a good goal.

SMARTer Dancing

The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review. Yes, that was ages ago.

“There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.” was the title and it was written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. Originally intended for business, it’s a standard for goal setting today. It’s still being used because it works. And works well.

SMART goals give you specific guidelines for determining what you want to accomplish, in a way you’ll be able to track going forward. SMART goals are pure magic in the way they motivate you. They also help you cut out all of those activities that don’t help you meet your goals.

The acronym SMART stands for:

S – Specific. Decide on one thing you want to improve. Just one. “I want to be a better dancer” isn’t specific enough. What does “better” mean? How do you measure “better”? Be more specific. “I want every beat in my hard shoes to sound identical.” That’s specific.

M – Measurable. You have to be able to measure results. What will you see, hear, or feel when you have achieved your specific goal?

A – Achievable. Can I really achieve this goal? Be honest with yourself. It’s hard, but you can do it! Toe walks aren’t realistic if you haven’t even started dancing in hard shoes yet. Be real.

R – Relevant. This is where you really get into your purpose for dancing. The goal you set has to be in line and worthwhile when you think of your purpose. If your purpose is simply to share a cultural experience with others, maybe it isn’t worth your time and energy to practice 8 hours a day 4 days a week. If your goal is a place on the podium, maybe that’s just what you need. Think relevance.

T – Time-based. When will you do an evaluation of the results? Give yourself a set amount of time in which to accomplish the goal. Make it realistic. You’re not going to start as a new dancer in September and be Ciara Sexton or Michael Flatley by Christmas. But you might learn some new choreography in a month. When your time period is over, do a serious re-evaluation. What worked? Why did it work? What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?

So, after all that, what would a SMART goal look like?

“I want to learn [insert dance here] to performance standard in two months.”
“I want to practice my clicks four times next week.”

***

SMART dancers are much stronger dancers. SMART dancers can overcome obstacles where other dancers might throw in the towel, because they’re consciously working on specifics. They know where they’re going and they have a plan to get there. So become a SMART dancer, starting today.

Download your FREE, that’s right I said FREE,
SMART GOALS WORKSHEET

And let me know in the comments:

What is your purpose for dancing? What is your SMART goal?

I’m just itching to know what other dancers are working on!
Happy dancing!

Brooke

How to Pursue Your Irish Dance Dreams in the Face of Haters

How to Pursue Your Dreams in the Face of Haters

Pursuing your Irish dance dreams in the face of haters.

What do you do if you have a dream, but everyone around you keeps telling you to be more realistic and to give up the dream? What if they want you to pursue a more “sensible” and traditional dance route?

You ignore them. You shut out the haters, and you stay focused on your dream.

It’s the only way. Because in Irish dance, we will always have haters, we will always have negative people, and if we listen to them, we will never pursue our dreams.

Doubts are The Enemy

We all have doubts, and they’re unavoidable. And sometimes, it’s good to be realistic, because you need to be able to analyze whether a dream is achievable or not.

But if the only thing stopping you is fears and doubts, and not some insurmountable obstacle, then you need to banish those fears and doubts.
Why? Because a doubt, as unimportant as it may seem at first, has a way of creeping its way into your brain, into the depths of your heart, like some kind of black and evil creature that has infiltrated your body. The doubt lingers at the back of your head, without you being aware of it, and will eventually conquer your dreams if you let it.

And when this happens, the doubt is more powerful than you realize. When you are making the tough decisions, like whether to apply for college or to go off to Ireland and pursue your dreams, your dreams will lose out, because of that doubt in the back of your head. When you think about yourself, your self-image will not be of that person you want to be, but the person that others want you to be.

How to Banish Doubts in Three Steps

How to Banish Your Doubts in Three Easy Steps For Irish Dancers.

As doubts are so insidious, how do you beat them? It’s three simple steps, but each one is a bit more difficult than they sound:

  1. Become aware. Doubt gets its power mostly because it is in our subconscious, and we’re not aware of the effects it has on us. Instead, we have to bring it to the forefront of our minds. And that means concentrating on our thoughts, and trying to search out those doubts and negative thoughts as they come up. The ones that say, “Maybe I can’t do this. Moving up and ahead in Irish dance is hard. Maybe it’s not realistic.” If you make a conscious effort to be aware of these doubts, you can catch them and beat them.
  2. Squash the doubt. I’ve mentioned this before. Once you’ve become aware of the doubt, imagine that the doubt is an ugly little bug. Now step on it, and squash it with the bottom of your shoe. Not literally, of course, but in your mind. Exterminate it. Do not let it live and spread!
  3. Replace it with something positive. Now that you’ve squashed the doubt, replace it with positive thoughts. It sounds corny, but trust me, this works: think to yourself, “I can do this! Other Irish dancers have done it, and so can I! Nothing will stop me.” Or something along those lines, appropriate to whatever it is you’re doing.

You have to continue to be vigilant, and be aware of your doubts before they stop you cold in your tracks. This is a constant process as you pursue your dreams, not a one-time thing. Doubts, like insects, will continue to come back, even after you’ve killed the first wave or two. You can’t let them thrive and overcome you.

What to Do About Haters

So what about those external negative factors — the haters? Those friends and family and people in authority who tell you to stop dreaming, to be realistic, to take a more traditional path? Those who tell you that you can’t do something? Those who say Irish dance is waste of time?

You have to learn to block them out. Or, learn to let those haters fuel your determination — make it your desire to prove the haters wrong!

How do you block out haters? The same way you block out doubts and negative thoughts in your own head: you squash them. OK, don’t literally squash another person. That’s rude. But when they say something negative, or something that is likely to cause doubts in your head, take that thought (in your head) and squash it. Then replace it with something positive. A tip: It isn’t helpful to go on a Twitterage, or make harsh comments on Facebook or someone’s blog. It just fuels the hate fire and makes you sound like an idiot. *double-facepalm*

If someone is constantly bringing you down and constantly making you feel like you can’t do something, you might consider removing them from your life. This sounds drastic, and it can be, but the truth is that having a life full of negative people will drag you down to their level, and stop you from doing what you want to do.

“Ok Brooke, that’s easy for you to say,” you’re thinking. “You don’t have to deal with the serious competition atmosphere like I do. You don’t have other Irish dancers as haters like I do.”

Well there’s where you are sadly mistaken, my dancing friend. I’ll let you in on a little secret: The only haters I have, are other Irish dancers. Yep. The secret’s out now. I have personally experienced some nasty venom from fellow dancers because I don’t go to a “real” Irish dance school, or I’m not affiliated with the “right” commission, or I’m an adult (and that’s a whole treat unto itself)… Believe me, I’ve been there.

I’m not saying you should change schools or never speak to people again, what I am saying is that you should pick your friends very carefully.
Instead of focusing on the haters, surround yourself with positive, encouraging people. If you have friends like that, you can do anything. I have some pretty amazing friends and it certainly feels like I can do anything.

How to Take the Plunge

So you’ve blocked out the haters, you’ve learned to become aware of your doubts, and to squash them … and you’re ready to pursue your dreams.

But you’re afraid to take the plunge.

It can be very helpful to do a lot of research and to carefully plan your plunge. But once you’ve done that research and planning, you still have to take the plunge. How do you do that?

Imagine that you need to swim out to a boat on a lake, and you’re standing on the dock, looking down at the icy cold water. You are afraid to dive into that water, but you know you need to take that plunge to get to your boat. So how do you do it? Do you go in one toe at a time? Do you stand there for awhile, waiting for the right moment? Do you wait for someone to give you a push?

No. You have to just do it — just dive in! You’ve already done all the thinking you need to do. Just dive in.

“WHAT?!” you exclaim, “Just do things? It’s scary to just do things! Are you freaking kidding me with this Brooke?”
No. No I’m not. Take a breath and keep following me here.

Once you’re in, it’ll be freezing, but you’re in. You now have no choice but to swim to the boat. And once you’ve gotten to the boat, you’ll be glad you took that plunge.

That’s how it is with your dreams. You can’t wait for the right moment to come along, or for someone to give you a push, or for the lake to heat up. Just dive right in!

Once you’re in, you’re committed, and you have to go for it. You don’t want to turn back once you’ve taken the plunge. Because that would just be dumb.

Now you’re more likely to achieve your dreams.

So plan it out, do your research … but when you’re ready, just dive right in.

And don’t look back.

How have you made the commitment and taken the plunge? Let me know just how brave you’ve been in the comments below. I’m sure the stories are amazing!

Happy Dancing!
Brooke

Killer Self-Confidence Boosters

Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit. – E.E. Cummings

Concrete steps that can help you increase your self-confidence without the help of anyone else.

One of the things that held me back from pursuing my dreams, for many years, was fear of failure … and the lack of self-confidence that I needed to overcome that fear.

As far as Irish dancing was concerned, I was afraid of what other people thought of me. I wasn’t afraid I didn’t have the actual skill to perform well, I was much more concerned about what I would look like as an adult Irish dancer. People tend to trash talk about adults, you’ve heard it I’m sure, and it was a source of discomfort to me.

It’s something we all face I think. Adults or otherwise. So how do you overcome that fear?

Working on your self-confidence and self-esteem
It’s nearly impossible to make time for your dreams, to break free from the traditional mold, and to truly be yourself, if you have low self-esteem and self-confidence. Without really thinking of it in those terms, that’s what I’ve been doing over the years, and that’s what helped me overcome my fears, and finally pursue my dreams.

I still have those fears, don’t get me wrong, but now I know that I can break through that wall of fear and come out on the other side. I’ve done it many times now, and that success will fuel further success.

As an aside, I know that some people make a strong distinction between self-esteem and self-confidence. In this post, I use them interchangeably, even if there is a subtle but perhaps important difference … the difference being whether you believe you’re worthy of respect from others (self-esteem) and whether you believe in yourself (self-confidence). In the end, both amount to practically the same thing, and in the end, the things I mention below give a boost to both self-esteem and self-confidence. So it’s all good.

Taking control of your self-confidence
If you are low in self-confidence, is it possible to do things that will change that? Is your self-confidence in your control?

While it may not seem like it, I strongly believe that you can do things to increase your self-confidence. It is not genetic, and you do not have to be reliant on others to increase your self-confidence. And if you believe that you are not very competent, not very smart, not very attractive, etc. … that can be changed.

You can become someone worthy of respect, and someone who can pursue what he wants despite the trash talking of others.

You can do this by taking control of your life, and taking control of your self-confidence. By taking concrete steps that improve your competence, your self-image, you can increase that self-confidence, without the help of anyone else.

Below, I outline 15 things that will help you do that. None of them is new or revolutionary, none of them will do it all by themselves. The list certainly isn’t comprehensive. These are just some of my favorite things, stuff that’s worked for me.

And you don’t need to do all of them, as if this were a recipe … pick and choose those that appeal to you, maybe just a couple at first, and give them a try. If they work, try others. If they don’t, try others. The point is, try.

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Photoshop your self-image. Our self-image means a crazy amount to us, more than we often realize. We have a mental picture of ourselves, and it determines how confident we are in ourselves. But this picture isn’t the end of it. You can change it. Use your mental Photoshopping skills, and work on your self-image. If it’s not a very good one, change it. Figure out why you see yourself that way, and find a way to fix it.

2. Think positively. One of the things I learned almost three years ago, was how to replace negative thoughts (see next item) with positive ones.  With this tiny little skill, I was able to completely change my diet and my health within a year. It sounds so silly, but giddy aunt this works. Seriously. Try it if you haven’t.

3. Kill negative thoughts. This one goes hand-in-hand with the above item, but it’s so important that I made it separate. You have to learn to be aware of your self-talk, the thoughts you have about yourself and what you’re doing. When I would practice, sometimes my mind would start to say, “This is too hard. I want to stop and go watch TV.” Well, I soon learned to recognize this negative self-talk, and I learned a trick that changed everything in my life: I would imagine that a negative thought was a bug, and I would vigilantly be on the lookout for these bugs. When I caught one, I would stomp on it (mentally of course) and squash it. Kill it dead. Then replace it with a positive one. (“C’mon, I can do this! Only a few counts left! Your trebles are sounding great!”)

4. Get to know yourself. Get to know yourself well. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing a journal about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself, and analyzing why you have such negative thoughts. And then think about the good things about yourself, the things you can do well, the things you like. Start thinking about your limitations, and whether they’re real limitations or just ones you’ve allowed to be placed there, artificially. Dig deep within yourself, and you’ll come out (eventually) with even greater self-confidence.

5. Act positively. More than just thinking positively, you have to put it into action. Action, actually, is the key to developing self-confidence. It’s one thing to learn to think positive, but when you start acting on it, you change yourself, one action at a time. You are what you do, and so if you change what you do, you change what you are. Act in a positive way, take action instead of telling yourself you can’t. Be positive. Talk to people in a positive way, put energy into your actions. You’ll soon start to notice a difference.

6. Be kind and generous. Oh, so corny. If this is too corny for you, move on. But for the rest of us, know that being kind to others, and generous with yourself and your time and what you have, is a tremendous way to improve your self-image. When you act with the Golden Rule in mind, you start to feel good about yourself and to think that you are a good person. It does wonders for your self-confidence, believe me.

One important key to success is self-confidence. A key to self-confidence is preparation. – Arthur Ashe

7. Be prepared. It’s hard to be confident in yourself if you don’t think you’ll do well at something. Beat that feeling by preparing yourself as much as possible. Think about getting ready for a performance or competition: if you haven’t practiced, you won’t have confidence in your abilities to do well. But if you practiced your butt off, you’re prepared, and you’ll be much more confident. Now think of life as your performance/competition, and prepare yourself.

8. Know your principles and live them. What are the principles upon which your life is built? If you don’t know, you will have trouble, because your life will feel directionless. For myself, I try to live the Golden Rule (and fail often). This is my key principle, and I try to live my life in accordance with it. Think about your principles … you might have them but perhaps you haven’t given them much thought. Now think about whether you actually live these principles, or if you just believe in them but don’t act on them.

9. Stand up straight and tall. I have great posture, that happens when you spend a few years in a back brace, but I still have to think about holding myself up tall. When I remind myself to stand straight and tall, I feel better about myself. I imagine that a rope is pulling my chest toward the sky, and the rest of my body straightens accordingly. Your dancing will improve by leaps and bounds as well. See what I did there? “Leaps and bounds…”

Ahem.

10. Increase competence. How do you feel more competent? By becoming more competent. And how do you do that? By practicing. Just do small bits at a time. If you want to be a more competent Irish dancer, for example, don’t try to tackle the entire profession of dancing all at once. Just begin to dance more. The more you dance, the better you’ll be. Set aside 30 extra minutes a day to dance, and the practice will increase your competence.

11. Set a small goal and achieve it. People often make the mistake of shooting for the moon, and then when they fail, they get discouraged. Instead, shoot for something much more achievable. Set a goal you know you can achieve, and then achieve it. You’ll feel good about that. Now set another small goal and achieve that. The more you achieve small goals, the better you’ll be at it, and the better you’ll feel. Soon you’ll be setting bigger (but still achievable) goals and achieving those too.

12. Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, change your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your dancing. “But Brooke, I’m fat and lazy!” So how can you solve that? “But I can’t motivate myself!” So how can you solve that? “But I have no energy!” So what’s the solution? I can go on all day here…

13. Be grateful. I’m a firm believer in gratitude, but I put it here because while being grateful for what you have in life, for what others have given you, is a very humbling activity … it can also be a very positive and rewarding activity that will improve your self-image. Read more.

14. Exercise. Gosh, this one seems to be on almost every list. But if I left it off this list I would be doing you a disservice. Exercise has been one of my most empowering activities in the last couple of years, and it has made me feel so much better about myself. I’m talking beyond Irish dance practice. Yes, that’s exercise, but it only hits certain muscle groups and not in the most effective way. Unless you dance with Rinceoiri. There’s a reason we use #BensKickButtGym… But I digress. All you have to do is take a walk a few times a week, and you’ll see benefits.

15. Clean out your dance bag. This might seem like a small, simple thing (then again, for some of you it might not be so small). But it has always worked wonders for me. If my dance bag starts to get messy, and the world around me is in chaos, cleaning out my bag is my way of getting a little piece of my life under control. It is the calm in the center of the storm around me. Here’s how.

Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable. – Walt Disney

My hope is that you can gain better self-confidence and improve your self-esteem. If something above has worked for you, tell me about it in the comments below.

Happy dancing!

Brooke