Journey to Belly Dancer of the Year 2018 Part 4 - Practice Habits & Resistance

Although it's been a while since I posted Part 3 of the competition prep series, I've been a busy dancer, practicing how to practice. Sounds a bit strange, right? I love dance and I should want to do it all the time, practice should come easily. Except when it doesn't. Here is how I deal with resistance to practice, while still being compassionate toward myself. 

Resistance - When you get in your own way.

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For starters, there is an awesome book I recommend about understanding why change is hard, Immunity to Change: How To Overcome It And Unlock The Potential In Yourself And Your Organization. I read this book in a coaching course in my Master's degree program and have used so many of the tools with coaching clients and myself.

When I'm working with creating a habit, I take opportunities get honest with myself. I'm honest in a helpful way, meaning that I hold myself accountable and remind myself of how accomplishing the goal will feel. Resistance is a normal part of any change process. When you suddenly have a case of the, "I don't wannas" you get the chance to look at your practice habit(s) and get clear about your goal(s). I'm going to share with you some of the ways I work with resistance.

Resistance wants something. It might help to pretend like it's another person and ask it some questions. What does resistance want? I might have to ask this question on several levels, big picture on down to smaller issues. I'll give you an example where the real reason for the resistance comes forward, it's a valid reason, and I make a workable solution. Later I'll discuss how to adapt if you can't find a solution and resistance is really shouting at you.

Me: "Why don't you want to practice?"

Resistance: "I'm tired."

Me: "Ok, I hear you are tired, are you feeling ok?"

Resistance: "Yeah, just really tired and this couch is so comfortable. Plus, there is a new episode of Vikings we haven't watched yet."

Me: "What about if we set a timer for 15 minutes and when it's done we watch Vikings?"

Resistance: "I guess I could do 15 minutes, I'm probably not going to like it though."

Me: "Thanks for trying, I'm looking forward to relaxing afterwards with you."

Resistance helps set sustainable goals. In the scenario above I also used the tool of under promising, giving an easily attainable goal along with a pretty amazing reward. If I said I was going to practice an hour every day of a week, that isn't likely to happen, even on a good week where I have a ton of energy and there are no distracting Vikings (I'm looking at you Floki). To get accountable and honest with myself I don't purposefully under promise the bare minimum. I think about the extremes and choose something that feels more comfortable on the spectrum of effort. I might say I would practice 3x week 30 min, minimum. I would experiment with that for a week, noting if I reached the goal or if I didn't. If I didn't, then I get some time for reflection. Another conversation perhaps. Don't beat yourself up if you don't make your goal. Seriously, being a jerk to yourself is not going to help make things feel better. If you catch yourself doing it or realize after the fact, take a few minutes to share what you appreciate about yourself in that moment.

Resistance speaks to beliefs and values. - The beliefs and/or values that you have around your behaviors can create what is known as a competing commitment. When you start to change, these commitments get challenged. Example: You want to travel to study dance. However, you have kids and a partner at home. You worry that if you pursue the dance training people will think you are selfish. Resistance is "helping" you by offering options to slow down and consider your options.  It might also be less than helpful and be a jerk. Once you are clear about why resistance showed up go ahead and make your plan.

Resistance cares. Pay attention, ask what it wants and see what you can do about it. It might be you didn't notice until now that your back is a bit sore, a long dance practice won't good for your body. Resistance might be telling you about a perceived threat to your health/safety. Don't harm yourself by shoving the warning signs about injury or illness aside, that will set you back and be really frustrating. If you feel fine, see if there is a competing belief or commitment that is creating resistance.

Resistance needs a hug and a cookie (literal or figurative). Are you rewarding yourself? Do you let your sense of accomplishment settle into your body and your life? If you don't, then resistance is saying it needs some love and attention before it wants to cooperate with you. Take a look at how you celebrate when you reach your goals. Don't put any judgement on how you celebrate, the focus is the celebration. You aren't serving yourself if you don't build a habit of acknowledging and rewarding when you reach a goal. You really are worth it, REALLY!

What if none of these ideas work? This is where I recommend working with a coach. I've coached people for several years, helping them understand their goals, work with resistance, and create sustainable habits. Give yourself a gift and schedule a time to chat (video works best). First 30 min are on me. :)