Get Comfortable with Discomfort!
Time after time, I hear from my students, “REALLY??? But that feels so uncomfortable!” And again and again I’ll say to them each time, “Well, of course it’s uncomfortable! Anything new is going to feel somewhat awkward and strange at first.” The key is to not avoid it, but to face it straight on, so that you can actually learn something.
Think about the last time your teacher put you into an awkward position and told you that it was correct. (It was probably in your last lesson.) How did your body feel? Did your body want to reproduce that uncomfortable feeling? I can tell you now… NO WAY!!! Your body does not want or like discomfort, and it will try to avoid it at all costs! I distinctly remember a lesson one afternoon with Karen Hilton, MBE at the Starlight Studio in London. Karen literally yanked my ponytail backward in order to get me into the correct space for Promenade Position. It felt so uncomfortable that I thought, this couldn’t possibly be correct! However, after much toiling around with positions with different teachers and different methods, I realized that it was just my body fighting against what it really needed to change.
Learning a physical skill is difficult. No one said it was easy. To actually make a physical change, we need to embrace this new feeling of ‘discomfort’, and then reproduce it over and over again until it becomes natural. Trust that through enough diligent practice, the discomfort will eventually become the ‘norm’ and therefore the new ‘comfortable’. If you constantly chicken-out and try to avoid the feelings of awkwardness that come with learning something new, chances are, you will revert back to the old way of doing things and not learn anything at all.
Be brave! Embrace the discomfort! Have you ever heard the saying, “Try Something New Everyday”? For some people, it might refer to public speaking or skydiving, something that causes you a heck of a lot of anxiety; or for others, it might simply be the newness of cooking a new recipe or learning a new computer skill. In any case, it’s about facing your fears, experiencing something different, challenging yourself, and learning and growing as an individual. The only way you can do this is to invite change. So in life and in dance, I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, and Get Comfortable with Discomfort!