On expectations, rejections and fears

(continuation of the article 'On dance, feelings and choice')
'Any action prompted by fear leads to the exact outcome you're afraid of.'

Dr. Sky Blossoms
Everything we do, every action we take, we do in order to feel better. Even if we know ahead of time that this choice will entail negative emotions, we make this choice in order to conform to someone's expectations, some principles or norms. The idea of this conformity, in return, makes us feel better. When a tanda begins, and I'm choosing which partner to invite, my goal is to make the choice that feels the best in and of itself, without any detours via conformity.

The only thing that can get in the way of using our emotional navigation system is our fear. When we give into our fears, when we focus our attention on the things we want to avoid, we paint ourselves into a corner.

Bound by the constraints of conforming to the expectations of others, we lose the capacity to take any action at all. One very good leader left tango only because he thought that he was obliged to dance with everyone, and he physically couldn't accomplish this. "It's unbearable! They're all looking at me, like…".
The only thing that can get in the way of using our emotional navigation system is our fear.
Why are we afraid of rejection? Why are we afraid to say "no"? We're afraid of the feeling of pain, and we're afraid of hurting others. Rejection can only be painful when it confirms my deep-seated fear that "something is wrong with me." And if I'm sure that I'm just fine, then rejection is just a plain "no." A stranger in Villa Malcolm, Buenos Aires, I didn't get many dances from locals, and my cabeceo didn't quite work. I set a goal for myself to get properly rejected – I had to understand exactly what it was, that I was so much afraid of. When a tanda began, I approached a girl, who was sitting at a table nearby: "Quieres bailar?" Authentic regret was in her eyes and in the tone of her voice: "No, gracias!". One could only dream of such a rejection!

Isn't it self-centered to be guided by only your feelings? What about the feelings of other people? Of course, it takes two to tango. If you cultivate your capacity to feel, you can learn how to feel not only your own emotions, but the emotions of other people as well. It's not difficult – try to simply observe a stranger with just one goal in mind – to feel what he's feeling.
He's about to cry? Feel his sadness. He's losing his temper? Get angry. He's laughing? Smile with him.
Considering that the bigger part of my enjoyment in the dance comes from bringing enjoyment to my partner, it's important that I sense her emotional state beforehand, in order to decide, whether or not I should invite her. Maybe she's having an interesting conversation with a friend? Maybe her feet hurt, and she needs a rest? And, even taking her state into consideration, I still rely on my own feelings when making a choice.

The look in the person's eyes always reflects his emotions. When he attempts to hide them, you can sense that he is closed off. When he's wearing a mask, the pretense is palpable. Even if a seasoned actress will fail to really feel a given emotion, then it's unlikely that the viewer will feel it.
When someone's wearing a mask, the pretense is palpable.
The "why haven't we danced yet?" look of reproach is very different from the "let's dance this one!" smile in the eyes. They made an entire science out of body language, while analysis is completely unnecessary – it's enough to simply want to sense what this person is feeling at this moment.

The quality of the invitation sets the emotional tone for the entire tanda. Invitations can be formal and informal, funny (my personal favorite) and heart-wrenching, when the odd one is out. One experienced tanguera likes to play with strangers, who invite her formally. She: mirada. He: cabeceo. She: makes a silly face. What would you do, if you were in his shoes? She's waiting for his reaction. If he freezes, hides his eyes or loses courage, then what's the point in dancing these playful Tanturi pieces with him? But if he smiles or makes a face in return – then he's sure to be the one.

And, of course, it sometimes happens that my chosen partner goes to dance this beautiful tanda with someone else. C'est la vie. Here's another choice: I can get mad at the world and leave, keeping the unexpressed emotions inside, or I can wait until the proper Pugliese tanda, invite a wonderful partner and feel, express and leave all this drama and unfairness on the dance floor.
Author: Aleksey Vays. Opinions expressed in articles within this blog may not coincide with those of the editor.
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