It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back.

I had a crap week. I had to deal with a situation at work that challenged so many aspects of my self. When someone offends you and is inappropriate towards you how do you react? In the past I would have buried my head in the sand, tried to pretend it didn’t happen, while feeling shame and beating myself up about it.

It’s really hard sticking up for yourself sometimes. 

I don’t like rocking the boat. I don’t like causing problems. I don’t like being forced to stick up for myself. Maybe you understand how my little shy and introverted heart works and how hard it is to stand up and tell the world that something is not okay. I’m learning though, every year I become more confident in who I am and what I deserve.

Last week I was put into a situation where a coworker, who I barely know, decided to show me a few videos on his phone that he found funny. The videos were military surveillance videos involving death and inappropriate sexual acts. As he showed them to me he went on a bigoted hate-speech filled rant. I sat there in shock not knowing what to say or do. I told him I didn’t think any of it was funny and I went back to reading my book, trying to ignore that unpleasant adrenaline spike we get in uncomfortable situations.

I berated myself for that.

Why didn’t I give him a piece of my mind and tell him how truly disgusted I was? Why did I shrug it off in the moment while hiding behind the book I was reading? Why didn’t I stand up and stick up for my beliefs?

After the incident I went to management and explained what had happened and they had a talk with him. I still couldn’t get over it. I still felt intense feelings of shame, even though I’d done my best to do the right thing. I didn’t know why it had happened to me or why my reaction hadn’t had been one of a strong warrior-woman. The whole situation made me feel so weak.

I know that I did the best I could and that I did the right thing. I know that I didn’t laugh with him in his hatred and I didn’t pretend it was okay. I stood up for myself even if my voice shook. I didn’t let myself be part of a culture that says that death and human suffering is funny. I was so focused on the fact that I didn’t stand up for myself “good enough” that I forgot to celebrate that I stood up at all.

I internalized my feelings and created a lot of anxiety inside of myself.

The days afterward I was a ball of anxiety. I felt it all through out my system. That feeling of being completely overwhelmed, on the verge of constant tears, waiting for something to settle within myself so that I would feel like me. I felt like someone had picked me up and shaken me and I was waiting for everything to settle down within me.

I had to shake it out.

We have choices. We can carry things with us when it does us no good or we can shake it out. We can let it go. Holding onto that feeling of anger and injustice was understandable but it wasn’t serving me. Holding on to shame was something I had to deal with. We can’t blame ourselves for the way other people behave. I knew that in my head but my heart had to catch up.

I started to dance.

One of my healing tools to deal with this anxiety was dance. Dance is so beautiful. Moving your body to music (even if you can’t dance, you can dance) is therapeutic. It allows you to focus on your body, it allows the energy of music to move through you. It was a great way to release that frantic and unpleasant energy inside of me and allow it to flow out of me.

So if you have something that you’re holding onto and you want to let it go I have a challenge for you. Pick a good song, start moving your body, and focus on letting it out and letting it go.

You don’t have to carry anything you don’t want to.

Do you use dance to express yourself or your feelings? I’d love to hear about your experiences!