How strength and gentleness are interchangeable.

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘strength’ as having the ‘capacity for exertion or endurance’, as well as the ‘power to resist force: solidity, toughness’.

The typical images and ideology evoked from the idea of strength is that of physically strong men and women, a steely demeanour, as well as a determined and confident approach. Indeed, in spite of it’s superficiality, many assess the strength and capacity of an individual on their physical fitness or body language. Of course, someone large, lean and muscular will be deemed as more capable than someone with a small frame and very little muscle tone.

Nevertheless, as with everything, appearances deceive, and there are multiple instances wherein someone slight is stronger than someone that seems so on the surface. It would seem that it is the deeper implications of a muscular figure that indicate the intangible quality of strength, or toughness. The near supernatural mental resilience demanded from successful athletes and sports people, facing, and recovering from, countless defeats, in order to reach the top, is an attitude to be revered. It is a level of perseverance that might cause many to assume the individual applies the same, aggressive determination in their interaction with, and approach to those around them. The same unshakeable passion and drive could, for instance, translate into domineering self assertion and leadership.

Even so, too often, the holistic set of qualities required to make up “strength” in its physical manifestation, are ignored. With strength, or toughness, being the antithesis of softness, we can’t help but see strength as synonymous with harshness and rigidity. Though, when examined closely, many would recognise the plethora of values that form it, including gentleness. 

‘Gentleness’, a ‘mildness of manners or disposition’, a soft approach without coarseness and abruptness, as well as compassion, can been as integral to strength, to having a ‘capacity for exertion or endurance’.

Complementing a steely determination, gentleness and compassion towards oneself and the people around you enables you to view yourself and the world around you with kind eyes. It grants the patience to persevere through stormy seasons, and a limitless acceptance of what is and what will be. With gentleness, or strength, we can all hope to see the pursuit of physical, intellectual and personal progress not as a marathon to endure, but rather, as a current to glide with.

What instances in your life have you had to harness gentleness to get yourself through a situation? Alternatively, do you believe it has ever led to some form of disappointment? Share below.

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Why you need to know (and show you know) your worth.

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It’s always tiring coming across someone particularly arrogant, whether that’s in the workplace, in your personal life, or at friend and family gatherings. 

Those that believe that they are set apart from the rest, or that act entitled, tend to be considerably narcissistic. Obtaining delusional ideas about their abilities, qualities and superiority. Although projecting a sense of unwavering self-confidence which, on many levels, is incredibly admirable, it has always been a disposition that, conscientiously, I’ve evaded. And my naive and continual hope that others will share in my set of values, including the antithesis of pride, that of humility, has proven both beneficial and detrimental throughout my life.

Many believe that in remaining grounded, and keeping a certain level of humility, they will be better orientated towards serving others. In not having an elevated opinion of oneself, those with humility are meant to have better discipline in their work, be more committed partners and better respected as leaders. It is something that I have seen brought to light in the lives of friends, the stories of respectable politicians, and in my own experiences.

Kathy Caprino indicated in Forbes that many individuals are raised with “an over-sized sense of entitlement and superiority, yet are deprived of real love and unconditional support”, leading to a “lack of true self-awareness and of a healthy level of self-esteem and confidence”. It’s a truth so clearly reflected in the attitudes of many around us. And it’s interesting to see how, in spite of it’s toxicity, it’s prevalence has led to it becoming, to a certain degree, a desirable trait.

With this in mind, it’s important to understand that, with societies idealisations of self-confidence being so diverse, being overly humble and submissive can result in one being overlooked, undermined and disrespected.

Character, so to speak, is not always assessed on what is done in private, but the ability to display one’s achievements and abilities loud and proud. So, while it is great to be quietly confident and possess healthy levels of self-esteem, making one not inclined to justify, seek praise or gain validation for their every action, things may need to be spelled out to those that only look to the surface. Applying humility, a ‘freedom from pride or arrogance’, in every area of your life, is not something that should be turned from, providing your self worth is in tact, but it is an application that can be controlled. A healthy self-esteem and self-assurance should be brought to the forefront, made external in instances wherein others lack the perception and discernment to notice it.

So, while, by no means does projecting an image of superiority and self-confidence reflect innate confidence and significant ability, knowing when this air must come through is a form of emotional intelligence. Speaking out on your accomplishments will not be you adopting the insecurities of others, but rather, knowing your worth, in seizing the opportunities in which you must actively and justly defend it.

Do you have a healthy self-esteem, and faith in your abilities, yet feel as though you constantly have to prove this to others? How did you deal with this? Let me know in the comments section.

Why escapism is integral in times of need.

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The Oxford English Dictionary defines escapism as “the tendency to seek, or the practice of seeking, distraction from what normally has to be endured.”

Thus far in my life, I have deemed escapism as two-sided, as both delusional and a necessity for maintaining higher perspective, a broader vision. Indeed, escapism, in its multiple forms , such as music, film and dance, grants one the ability to transcend their reality.

Nevertheless, reason is placed above passion in today’s education system. 

Of course, not fundamental to the functioning of society, the arts are never pushed, and the logic and rationality of the academics: maths, science and English, take precedence, and so it was English, the most creative of the three subjects, that I pursued. 

However, isn’t it ironic, that the creative subjects, music, film and dance, integral pieces to a wholesome culture, are undervalued, when various studies, and the experiences of so many, indicate them as forming the societal backbone? A psychological crux? Many take full advantage of music throughout their education, using uplifting and classical genres throughout essay and exam season, to offer the emotional zest that’s craved.

Many point to obsessive video gaming, TV addiction and manipulative music as causing people to neglect their responsibilities. And yes, obviously, immersing oneself in a fictional reality to the point where it feels more true than true circumstances, can be destructive to your own life, as well as the lives of others.

Even so, we cannot deny the incredible healing capacity of mental escapism. Psychological transcendence from the mundane, with alternate situations, mentalities and emotions can facilitate real change. Indeed, say, if pursuing escapism, through movie immersion, a Spotify playlist or Instagram feed is the only natural means through which a cancer patient can escape emotional trauma, besides physical pain, then does escapism become essential? Of course it does. And if a struggling medical student did not have access to, say, uplifting music, words of encouragement and self-expression, would they be as self-motivated and emotionally charged to change their situation? It seems unlikely. And, is it a coincidence that top-performing athletes accredit their success to, besides physical training, their ability to imagine a circumstance, perception and feeling different from their own? Not really.

It appears that a thriving society would look like one wherein the invisible divide and hierarchical structure in place between logic and emotion is relinquished. A society wherein logic is taken from it’s pedestal and recognised as most effective when in harmony with feeling. The intellect valued would be, not only rationale forming the framework for medical, engineering and operational industries, but the creative, transcendent expression, that offers the glue.

Do you perceive escapism as integral to enhancing your daily experiences? When has it eased, improved or changed your situation for the better? Comment your thoughts below.

How to become a better dancer without going to classes.

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Ever since being in my early adolescence, I’ve always envied the glossy magazine images of girls in their branded dance attire attending the very top city dance schools and studios. I was, and still am, convinced that, unless I frequented, or frequent, institutions like Pineapple dance studios, the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), or City Academy, I was never going to reach my full potential. To an extent this is pretty accurate. With the dance coaching that you’ll be sure to receive in these top studios being unrivalled, the country’s crème de la crème, there’s no doubt that regular sessions would polish your technique to a tee.

And yet, who is to say that you can’t get access to a similar level of expert training, of guidance, from the very screen that I’m, that you’re, gazing at right now? Ever since I’ve came home from university, I’ve contemplated going back to the dance school that I grew up in. I’m not entirely bothered by the idea of training alongside 16-year-olds at the age of 22. I love the feeling of community that dance classes always seem to have, moving, expressing, in sync. And yet, it’d be empowering to have the freedom to grow and progress outside the confines of a class of adolescents. I’m pretty sure that there’s a lot of you out there in the same boat. I mean, what happens to the masses of dancers, the 98% of bun-heads, that don’t become professionals? You don’t outgrow happy feet.

As is the walk of many in life, you enter the working world, and turn your back a little on the activities of your childhood that gave you so much joy. All of a sudden, they seem trivial. After slaving at a desk in an office from 9-5, it can feel like a great deal of effort to locate and get to an adult dance class, especially if you live/work in a pretty rural area like myself.

Thankfully, in the age of the internet, we have a fair few options on our hands. No longer do we need to reach for a standard VHS or DVD fitness routine, the choreographic/dance technique content online is limitless. 1MILLION Dance studios is one company that has fixed the vast phenomenon of avid dancers in isolation. It defines itself as bringing forth Dance that felt far too distant for us. Dance culture that seemed reserved for people who were different to us. 1MILLION DANCE STUDIO will transform dance into a wonderful experience that you can enjoy. And so it does. With a vast range of beginner – advanced commercial/hip-hop choreographies to choose from, you’re pretty spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting a routine to master. There’s also many other channels that present Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary choreographies, if grooving to R&B really isn’t your thing.

Stuck for stretches? PsycheTruth’s Youtube channel has them covered.

And did I mention the large quantities of blogs that are dishing out free professional dance tips? The City Academy, Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit sites impart a great deal of beneficial dance knowledge, to name just a few.

So, if any fellow dancers out there are disheartened at not being able to spot a decent tap class within close proximity to the office or flat, never fear. You can keep practicing those pirouettes and chasse’s wherever you may be.

Trust me, you’re not alone in it.

Take Karen X. Cheng, the internet dance sensation that took her skill from 0 to 100 over the course of 365 days.

Through dedicating herself to imitating the moves that she saw in expert online dance videos each and every day, she was able to reach unimaginable levels in such an incredibly short stretch of time. It’s such an incredibly cliché phrase, but consistent, focused practice really does make perfect. Arguably, the main challenge that you’ll face, is avoiding becoming disheartened and sustaining motivation.

I remember how, at the age of 14, I committed myself to learning the splits and perfecting my ballet moves and routines over the course of the summer. At the time my parents owned a B&B and so, to have an appropriate studio space, every morning, I would push to the side the chairs and tables in the dining room and discipline myself to follow a dance timetable I’d created for myself each day. First, I would stretch, then I would work on some exercises, and then I’d go over a couple choreography’s or develop new ones. With guests walking past and occasionally peering in, and my siblings’ racket often overpowering the melodies coming from my CD player, there were a fair few factors that could have made me negatively believe that I was never going to improve as much as I wanted.

All of the most successful individuals know the importance of environment in shaping success. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t feel like you have to wait for your situation to change, for you to grow, for you to change.

So there, both literally and figuratively, start where you are.