A question from a reader:
Hope you are well. Its me again with a query I have.
Was just re-reading the idea of the Self 1 and Self 2. For me, I am a very analytical person (accountant haha) so for me, I need to know the routine 101% first along with the the footwork. Self 1 is definitely operating here and if I screw up I get a bit frustrated (esp with the Paso, given it’s such a fast dance for instance). How do I apply Self 2 so I don't "worry" about doing a mistake in terms of my footwork. I have medals in a couple of weeks’ time and I just want to dance naturally and not have that "thinking face" on whilst I go through it. Does this make sense?
This is not an uncommon issue. We want so hard to do well that we cannot trust our instinctual side. Even though that’s where we really need our dance to be and we know it too.
For those who can’t recall, the notion of Self 1 and Self 2 come from Tim Gallwey who made these notions famous along with the idea of the inner game when he wrote about tennis. The idea is that our conscious self is Self 1. It is analytical and ideal for when we need to reason. Self 2 is the part of us that just does things naturally – it’s the doing part. Think about those times when you made a mistake because you were concentrating so hard – that’s Self 1 taking too much control.
The key to letting Self 2 take over in a routine is to distract Self 1. Self 1 can really only do one thing at a time. If you distract it from a task, then Self 2 needs to take over. You can think about any thing while walking – it’s so natural that Self 2 does it.
So what are some ways of distracting Self 1?
One easy way is to simply talk. If you have an amenable dance partner, then talk to them about anything so that Self 1 is distracted. If you do this during practice, then you get better at handing control over to Self 2.
This is not ideal for a competition or exhibition.
Another technique is to give each figure a name (not the standard one) and then link the names into a story that uses those names. This will also help you remember the routine – it’s not something you can do quickly (we don’t all have the story telling ability of Stephen King), but it will likely mean you will never forget the routine. If you can also make the story fit the mood of the dance and music, then as you recall the story while doing the routine, then you will be more likely to have a congruent facial expression.
This is just an example set of 2. You can come up with others. The key is to keep your conscious mind (Self 1) distracted so that you rely on your automatic Self 2, which is better at this kind of stuff, to take over.