Discovering my life Purpose and Dance Therapy
Discovering therapy: I have seen a few different talk therapists in my time.. Counsellors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, etc.. at different times in my life, ranging from three sessions to a year per therapist, mostly for stress-related issues/emotional support. They have all been brilliant in their respective fields.
I have always felt somewhat limited, though, by trying to resolve and release my emotional issues through conscious thought processes. After a while, I would start to feel a little frustrated with the process as I continued to approach my life and my challenges in the same way. I got stuck in perpetual thought loops which I would try to think and analyse my way through, but I always ended up right where I started.
All of my talk therapy sessions would go the same way. I would talk and talk for hours on end with little moments of progress along the way, only to find I was facing the same issues and challenges a few months down the line. Worst of all, I was still responding to those same challenges in the same, tired old way. Eventually, I would become despondent and terminate my therapeutic process with my therapist of choice. Always with an end point of feeling stuck in my head and my emotional thought loops, and seldom consciously aware of what was happening around me. I had assumed, though, that there was something wrong with me because I had seen how talk therapy had been most useful in other people’s lives.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift;
The purpose of life is to give it away.”
Then I came across Hypnotherapy. From the first session, I could tell it was going to be a very different process to any I had encountered before. I was immediately made aware of the dire need for me to get out of my head and into my body. Furthermore, I had to learn to get out of the past (depression) or future (anxiety) and to allow myself to enjoy each moment with a clear and present mind.. a concept I was completely unfamiliar with, despite my 10 years of studies in Psychology.
Here I was with a Masters degree in Psychology, yet I still felt as if I couldn’t even help myself, let alone make a difference in anyone else’s life. Hypnotherapy unlocked a whole new world within me, which resulted in a whole new world outside of my mind and my perpetual thought loops. I started to attract the things I wanted in life.
“Nothing will work unless you do.”
Don’t get me wrong, it was by no means an easy process. I was forced to face myself, in the most real, vulnerable and exposed way, in each session. And after each session, I noticed progress. I was pushed out of my comfort zone on a regular basis which prompted me to explore my body and all the emotional turmoil stored within it, rather than to stay stuck in my head and in all of my old and unwanted behaviours. This process gave me a completely different understanding of the mind, body and emotions, and of the undeniable relationship between them.
While on this journey of self-discovery, and it really was a journey of self-discovery as I was getting to know myself and see myself in a whole new light, I was already far along in the process of completing my Dance Teachers qualification. A process I had started many years before and had put aside when my Psychology studies became too intense. Sacrifices had to be made.. and my dancing was the first to suffer.
“Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.”
I never realised at that time, though, that dancing was the only way in which I was staying connected with my body. Ultimately, the less I was dancing, the more I was staying in my head and being ruled by my uncomfortable and unproductive thought loops in either the past or the future, but rarely in the present. In other words, I was getting nowhere, fast! Added to this was the undesired effects of weight gain and increased stress levels as a result of a lack of exercise. I did not feel good about myself at all!
This is where retrospect and hindsight bring some harsh clarity, and it all started to make sense. Up to this point, I could recognise three things about my journey. First, pure talk therapy did not really work for me as it did for others. Second, dance was a great way for me to release pent up emotions, relax my mind, jump back into my body and into the present moment, and to control my weight, amongst many other benefits. Third, Hypnotherapy showed me a world outside of the talk therapy approaches to which I had become accustomed.
A new world
This was a new world where the mind, body and emotions are interconnected and one cannot be worked on without all three being affected. It was a world I did not encounter often in my 10 years of Psychology studies, at least not on a conscious level, as it was not relevant to me at the time.
These revelations made me think deeply about my own life and what has had the biggest impact on me over many years of searching and struggling with my own life challenges. In the end, I not only wanted to avoid painful emotional conflict in my life, but I also wanted to make the most of everything that had been given to me. I have been privileged to have been afforded many opportunities to better myself and my life, for which I am extremely grateful. Yet, at that time, I still felt unsettled. It had me searching for an answer to the million dollar question we all face in life… The question of what I want to do with my life.
What is my purpose in life?
I was sitting in a Hypnotherapists office, with three degrees in Psychology, and nearing the completion of my Dance Teachers qualification. The answer to my question of what to do with my life was staring me in the face. I realised that everything up to that point had led me to that exact moment in which I would eventually put two and two together. Now, in the name of brutal honesty, I must admit that I am blonde, and these epiphanies are generally few and far between.. well, they had been for me. I got the feeling that my Hypnotherapist would bang his head against a wall each time I would leave his office. But not today! Today was the day that I realised why I had been doing what I was doing unconsciously for so long. It really was a lightbulb moment for me.
Discovering my life purpose
I was sitting in his office, back in my head, when he asked me what I want to do with my life. My answer shocked me.. “I would love to find a way to marry Psychology and dance!” He looked at me like I was the slowest person on Earth.. and with pure joy, as well, that I had reached a turning point in my process of self development. The look on his face was one of elation and relief in equal parts.
The problem, however, was that Dance Therapy was not a recognised form of Therapy in South Africa. So I had to pave my own way and create my own methodology. A daunting task! Luckily, I was in the right hands. If I could get it right, I could help others to experience all the benefits I had experienced in dance and in my own therapeutic processes over the years. This became my mission!
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
While I was working on my methodology and building a therapeutic method which I knew could work wonders, I faced challenges in the job I was currently in. The challenge was this: just as I had decided to follow my own path and start working for myself, my boss at my current job decided to offer me a new position, with the salary I had been wanting for years. All the challenges and risks I knew I was taking by starting my own business where now clouded by the offer of a decent amount of money. Hard to turn down, right? Right! It was tough! I decided to follow my heart, rather than my wallet. A risky decision, for sure! But if you never try, you will never know.
Opportunity comes knocking
Just as the decision was made and the Big Boss was informed, he would offer me another position, and then another. This happened three times. Each time I would arrive in my Hypnotherapists office in a bewildered state with a new dilemma on my hands and another decision to make. And each time I would leave his office with a stronger commitment to following my own life path.
I was getting out of my head where the stress was overwhelming, and back into my body and into the present moment. And it felt good! In fact, it felt great! I knew where I was going, I knew what I had to do and I knew how to do it. For one of very few moments in my life, I had clarity. And I was determined! I felt alive and awake. It’s amazing what having a clear purpose in life does to a person. Just ask Viktor E. Frankl.. he will agree wholeheartedly.
‘He knows the “why” for his existence,
and will be able to bear almost any “how”.’
(Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, p.88)
On Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I felt I was doing pretty well.. and I had all the support I needed in order to pursue my dream. The stars were aligning and I could hear the Angels sing. It was glorious! I had Dance Therapised (yes, that is a real word!) myself and I knew how powerful it can be.
The challenge now became one of needing to educate people on what I was doing. I am two months into my new life now, and I am loving it. I feel the desire to help people reconnect with themselves and to process and release all of their old and unwanted emotional thought patterns and baggage which have been slowing them down for years. These patterns have been keeping them firmly locked into their limiting belief systems surrounding who they are and what their purpose is in life. It is a heart-warming feeling, knowing that after just one session I can help people to start coping with their stress and anxiety in a more productive way. My purpose is to help more people to move towards themselves in a healthy, connected way and to establish a new perspective of who they are and who they would like to be.