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Building Confidence #5—Positive Reminders

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Ariel Bennett, ADCRG, is a teacher and judge who has been Irish dancing for 30 years.

In dance class, your teachers are constantly telling you about all the things that you need to improve: “Point your toes!” “Don’t look down!” “Cross your feet!” These corrections are essential to making you a better dancer—you have to know what you’re not doing well so you can practice at home.

However, if you only think about the weaknesses in your dancing, you can start to feel, at least subconsciously, like you’re not very good. This can chip away at your self-confidence, making it difficult for you to perform your best when it matters.

When working on building your confidence, it’s important for you to remember all the things that you do well, not just the things you need to work on. Here is an exercise to help remind yourself of the positive aspects of your dancing.

1. Get several index cards or small pieces of paper. On the top of each piece of paper, write the name of one of your dances. Below that, list at least three things that you do well in that dance, like “I get my kicks up to my chest on my second step,” “My trebles are always loud,” or “I love my steps.” List as many positive things about that dance as you can think of before you move on to the next one. It’s fine to write similar things for different dances. Avoid using words and phrases like “I try,” “sometimes,” “I think,” and “kind of.” Make the statements firm.


2. On your last piece of paper, list all the things you do well in your dancing overall: “I have good timing,” “I use the whole stage,” or “I always try my best in class.” It can be hard to write down positive statements, because we’re taught not to brag about ourselves. You’re not bragging while you do this exercise; you’re just reminding yourself about your strengths. Let yourself acknowledge your strengths without guilt or embarrassment.


3. Put the pieces of paper in your dance bag. Before each class, pull out the piece of paper for the dance you’ll be working on and read it, saying each statement to yourself in your mind. If something frustrates you during class, read your paper during a break and remind yourself that for every form point you’re struggling with, there is another that you’re good at.


4. Before a feis, pull out the piece of paper with your overall strengths and read it to yourself. As you warm up or get ready to go onstage, remind yourself of your strengths. Your strengths have gotten you to where you are now; they are the foundations that you are dancing on.

Of course, positive reminders by themselves will not win you medals; you need to keep practicing regularly and diligently at home to improve the things your teacher tells you to work on. However, remembering what you’re good at will help you dance with confidence, and that can make all the difference when you’re working to achieve your dreams.

Photo credit: Flickr user caitlinator

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