The Dance of Life
food for thought & soul
What makes us feel safe and comfort? Where do we get the energy “to do life”, which sometimes can seem tough and requires a lot from us? Do we ever take the time to check in with ourselves, with how we really feel, before or after acting? Do we reach out when we need support?
If you consider this, you’ll find that there is a constant dance in life – a dance between withdrawing into yourself and flowing towards the world, and I believe that how we do this dance can influence our well-being, the quality of our lives and the quality of our relations.
I remember being little, I was constantly being validated as an extroverted, dynamic and talkative child, which apparently was a “good thing”. Growing up in my community, I could see that most parents didn’t want a withdrawn, shy or quiet child, which meant something was wrong, they will not succeed in life and were often shamed. Unfortunately, this shaming is the exact opposite of what makes a child flow towards the world and reach out, which doesn’t feel a safe place anymore.
Most of us were thought to ignore the importance of this dance – a dance between “in” and “out”, movement and stillness, talking and being silent. Many times we were encouraged and even conditioned to place ourselves in either one or the other: extroversion – introversion, shyness – boldness, success – failure, etc. When in fact it’s the movement between the two that benefits us and teaches us the most. This means honoring the shift between acting and taking a break, contact and withdrawing, succeeding and failing, yet having the courage to continue, without remaining stuck.
From a scientific perspective, the flowing between the two movements is mirrored by our nervous system, which, when it is regulated is able to safely move from high arousal to low arousal and from neutral into states of joy and gratitude. This is how we learn to self-regulate, not only our nervous system, but life as well. “Regulation” is a fancy way of describing how the nervous system handles stress, emotions and more generally, the way it manages energy. A regulated nervous system is able to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic system, bringing the body back to homeostasis (body’s ability to maintain internal stability and equilibrium).
Even though many children are acting out and need more contact with the outside world, this doesn’t mean they have no need of withdrawing and finding ground and safety within themselves. Later in life, I’ve actually discovered that there are endless inner resources, strengths and capabilities, which I could access. But that I didn’t know how to do as a child. I didn’t know I had the option to pause, “go inside”, check in with myself and act from that place.
As adults, we are responsible for assisting our children in learning this dance, by normalizing their needs and behaviors, recognizing and honoring their differences, hopping this will nurture their resilience.
Allowing ourselves to access and use energy from both, “inner” and “outer” world is an essential step in our growth and personal development process.
And I believe this is life’s invitation to dance.