Facing my fears and learning ballet
It took me three attempts to get to my first ballet class. This was not when I was a child but three and a half years ago when I wanted to join an adult ballet class. Fear and anxiety stopped me.
Now, I love doing yoga, yes, I know the title is about learning ballet but my love for ballet came from my love of yoga. I have been doing yoga for many years. Yoga has this weird way of making me feel exhilarated and super relaxed at the same time. However, for some inexplicable reason I wanted a new challenge. I still wanted something that would exercise my body and mind and I don’t know where the idea came from but a little spark in my brain said ‘what about ballet?’
I had not been to ballet classes when I was a child and my only dancing experience is after a glass of wine, throwing a few shapes on the dance floor at parties or dancing in my kitchen to 1980s music, much to my family and dogs’ amusement/embarrassment.
I thought about it for months, never quite having the courage to do it. I kept waiting for the ‘right time’. I told myself I would go when work wasn’t so crazy and exhausting, when family life had calmed down a little, when it was summer and lighter in the evenings, when I had found a friend to go with and so on and so on. I came up with so many excuses. How often do you find yourself putting things off until 'the time is right?' I realise now that my main fear was that I would make an idiot of myself and would be laughed at. I would be an old lady creaking and bumping in the background not knowing what I was doing and this frightened me.
Then I realised that the 'perfect time' doesn't exist, I just had to get on and do it so I googled adult ballet classes in my area. I phoned the dance school near me and was assured that it
was an adult class which would be fine for a beginner. I was actually going to do it and I felt excited and looking forward to it but anxiety and fear got the better of me.
The first week I tried to go, I got stuck in traffic, felt sick and dizzy, I turned the car around and came home.
The next week I went but couldn’t park the car, I didn’t know where to go, I felt sick and dizzy so turned around and came home again.
With each attempt I felt like a failure. I started to tell myself that ‘it wasn't meant to be.’ A voice in my head told me that I was stupid to even try to do this and instead stay at home where it’s nice and safe.
The week after, which was my third attempt, my husband drove me there, I had no choice but to go. By this time I was feeling even more nervous than before but I’m so grateful that he made me go because the really stupid thing is that once I was there everyone was very friendly and welcoming. My fabulous teacher was (and still is) very patient with me. I found that I love ballet. I love going to classes, watching it on YouTube or TV, going to the theatre to see it and can’t wait to get back to my Wednesday evening lessons.
I am however, hopeless at ballet (but getting better!). I’m always going the wrong way, using the wrong arm or leg and yes, I am an old lady bumping and creaking in the background but I don’t care because I love it. I’m known as ‘Michelle with the creaky knees’. There have been a few times when I have gone home and thought ‘I’m giving up, I can’t do it, I’m so useless and everyone else is so much better than me’ but then I realise that I don’t go to compete with anyone, I go because I enjoy it. It keeps my brain and body active. I know it’s good for me to get out and meet new people and face new challenges.
I have even been in a dance competition and have a bronze medal which I am very proud of. I am not the sort of person who would normally get up on stage and dance and my initial response when I heard about the competition was a very firm NO! However, the more I thought about it the more I thought 'why not?' and this is how I used hypnotherapy to help me. I had started to learn hypnotherapy a few months after starting ballet classes and wrote a reframe recording for the competition which I listened to every night before going to sleep. I focused on how I wanted to be rather than how I didn’t want to be. We are all very good at rehearsing things going wrong but by using hypnotherapy I rehearsed it going right. On the day of the competition I was amazed to find that I wasn’t nervous at all and was actually really looking forward to it. I didn’t run away and hide but faced my fears and it’s something that I’m really proud of.
I now know that the voice that tells me I can’t do things is part of the protective way our brains try to stop us from doing things it perceives as harmful. Learning about how the brain works and why we react to stressful and frightening situations has helped me to understand why I felt sick and dizzy and ran away back home.
I have learned that if you want to do something that you might initially find a little bit scary but ultimately something you want to do, then take a deep breath, have some courage and do it. I regularly make a fool of myself in class but I have trained myself to think that instead of telling myself that I am stupid and can’t do it, I now tell myself that I just need a bit of practice and patience and I CAN DO IT!
Learning ballet has also improved my kitchen dancing where I now throw in a few arabesque positions and plies but I haven't mastered a pirouette YET!
Get in touch if you would think hypnotherapy can help you to face fear.