"Words cannot express quite a lot of feelings, whereas a noise or tone or drone or sound, an accordion falling down a staircase, can somehow capture an emotion much better."

~ John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is grumpy? What do you do for someone who is in a bad mood? How can you make this situation better without making it worse?

Face it, the world is not just sunshine and lollipops all the time. Even the most fortunate and blessed among us have a rotten day once in a while. And sometimes the folks who are in a less than perfect mood are family members or people in close relationships that we need to get along with.

I’m not talking about people who are chronically depressed, malignantly narcissistic, or somehow toxic personality-wise. Dealing with serious issues like these is another kettle of fish altogether. You need longer-term strategies and tactics for self-care in those situations.

This is more about a partner or child or parent who happens to have a dark cloud hanging over them for some reason or another and you wish you could solve their problem. It’s only natural to want to help. But as you probably well know, if you’ve ever tried to insert yourself into someone’s internal struggle with words, inquiries, or platitudes, you’re more likely to just make it worse.

The thing is, feelings and emotions are very different things. Closely related, yes, but there is a specific way that one unfolds from the other. Feelings are inside us, they are our primary internal reaction to any sort of thought or external stimuli. We can never really know for sure exactly how something feels to another person, internal experience is entirely subjective.

Emotions, on the other hand, are writ large upon our surface. We can read the emotions on someone else’s face, we can infer them from body language, and we have commonly understood words to discuss them.

So when someone says “They just need time to sort out their feelings” they’re pointing out the fact that internal feelings come first before the external emotion is manifested. That’s why it’s important for you to be able to name your emotions once they’re fully formed and encourage people around you to do the same.

So back to that grumpy family member or child who’s suddenly and inexplicably “in a mood.” You may have caught them in that in-between time when they’re wrestling with a feeling but haven’t figured out the emotion yet. Is it fear? Is it shame? Is it sadness? What’s really bothering them? Once they know and can face it things will be easier, but in the meantime poking and prodding won’t help.

What they need is your loving kindness and presence, but without the overlay of mental noise and chatter. The trick is to model calm and solid reassurance without letting yourself get wrapped up in their problem.

This whole topic today springs from something that happened last night that reminded me of some wise words a friend said to me once. She told me that whenever someone in her family was out of sorts she would give them space and then a little while later “circle ’round with food.”

I picked up my 11-yr-old daughter last night and she was in a snit. My gentle inquiries went nowhere and she shut me out with a scowl. So we drove home quietly with her nose in a book.

Upon arrival I simply put an Ella Fitzgerald record on the turntable and ignored her while she got settled in. When she emerged from her room shortly after, I had a grilled cheese sandwich on her favorite bread ready and handed her the plate without a word.

Like magic, after only a few bites, her dark clouds melted away and she started chirping like a bird. I was glad that I avoided tangling with her mood earlier, and she presently told me about some minor things that hadn’t gone so well.

In situations like this, food is a metaphor. With nothing more than a sliced apple on a saucer you symbolically create an atmosphere of loving kindness and reassurance for your loved one. It’s a way of providing presence and support while they go through the process of letting their feelings form into emotions. Bonus points if you can hold your tongue until they’re ready to talk!

With that my friends, I wish you well for another great week! May this parable of presence serve you well as you dance through life on our beautiful green earth!

Much love till next Monday!

M+

Mark Metz
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine

Dance First Member Spotlight :: Dance from your Heart - Spring Equinox Celebration with the Critical Mass Dance Company!

This week’s Dance First Member Spotlight shines on the Southern California-based Critical Mass Dance Company and their leader E. Sophia Kozak! This is a unique and committed group of dancers and movement artists who create dynamic black-light and day-glow fluorescent performance pieces, as well as hosting workshops, trainings, and community-based events.

CMDC fosters the healing and empowerment of underserved girls and women in Los Angeles through dance & movement. ” Their values statement is a template for conscious dancers everywhere:

Movement as a social change strategy; helping people gain awareness and inspire social action. Transformation from within; shifting our inner world (thoughts, feelings, etc) to create change in the external world. Dance as a healing tool; supporting health, wellness and personal growth on all levels. Full creative expression of all; providing an environment that encourages all to unleash their creative potential and share their healing gifts. Inherent value in all; appreciating that everyone has something important to contribute.

One of the things Critical Mass is famous for is their seasonal workshops timed to celebrate the celestial calendar. This coming weekend on Saturday afternoon, March 23rd, you can join in for “Dance from your Heart :: Spring Equinox Celebration” happening from 3 to 5pm at the Indigo Yoga Studio in Altadena.

Manifest a heart-felt desire this Spring with greater grace, ease and joy. ” Through this experiential workshop, you will Dance from the Heart in the magical glow of blacklight! Feel free to wear white and bring an offering for our community altar (flower, stone, shell, candle, etc).

You’ll want to visit the Critical Mass Dance Company website right away and download your free copy of E. Sophia Kozak’s book, “The 7 Steps to Dance from the Heart” which is an action packed toolbox to help you manifest with heart-centered movement!

Conscious Dancer highly recommends Critical Mass! If you’re in So-Cal, be sure to go, or if you have friends there let them know! And if you’re far away, please download the book and grok their message and methods!

Learn more at www.CriticalMassDanceCompany.org