“You Are So … and So …” Why Do We Sometimes Accept These Gifts?

When you start to learn tango there are loads of limits and blockages you need to go through. I will only talk about the ones that women go through, cause that’s the only perspective I have 🙂

The Beginnings-Going Through The Shit Town

At first it’s awkward, you are clumsy, you get stepped on your toes, it’s painful-if you are not used to wearing high-heels. You feel like it will take ages to get into that flow of what seems like effortless dancing. Then, the more you practice you start getting the hang of some parts, you start to relax and enjoy.

Then comes dancing at a milonga, a tango party, where only man invite women. And where the ratio is usually, 7 to 1. Fierce competition, not easy to be a woman just starting to tango. It often takes a long time until you start to get invited.

And then starts the difficulty of adjusting with different partners. You might feel insecure cause you are just a beginner; and if they are a bit more advanced but not the best leaders though, they feel compelled to give you advice. To teach you stuff, instead of focusing on the connection.

And with some you click, you have a great connection and the dance flows. And with others, it just doesn’t work. You can’t really get their signals, you feel awkward, the dance is a struggle and it’s really a pain to go through it.

And because you are in the beginning, you listen to all of them. And then the teacher tells you to  NOT listen to any of them. And you might feel like you are a great dancer after a tanda with a men you had a great connection with, only to feel like you have 2 left legs after dancing with one that you can’t really connect.

And if he also tells you something about your skills, then you might take it personally and start thinking that you actually can’t dance.

Recent True Story

It’s been exactly one year since my first tango lesson. I am now an assisting teacher, I have learned a lot, and I am continuously learning. I’ve recently been to a tango flashmob organized in a subway station, to celebrate spring and to raise money for charity. As usual, loads of women, few men. I danced a few times with my tango partner.

Then one guy I’ve seen before in the tango community, who seems like a good, experienced dancer, invites me to dance. We don’t really click, from the beginning. It’s a crazy environment, we are in a subway station. It’s a bit more difficult to center and connect in a such an environment. I try to stay relaxed and follow him. Then he tells me :”It’s very simple what you have to do, just walk and don’t do anything else. You tend to agitate yourself for no reason!”.

Have you ever been agitated and heard people telling you :”relax!”? How did that make you feel? Angry? Even more tensed? Maybe you were feeling like kicking that “benevolent” person? So was I. And after just one song he said “thank you” and he went asking another girl.

In a normal milonga the rule is to dance 4 songs or a full tanda. It’s rude to end the dance before the tanda ends. Here, it was a flashmob, few men, many women, the rules were a bit modified, so we were changing partners more often than in a normal milonga. However, because of his words, I felt weird.

I felt frustrated, because I have allowed his words to take away my joy for dancing in those moments.  I don’t know why I accepted his “gift”.

Nothing haunts us like
photo credits http://www.pinterest.com/kthomas09/

I didn’t say anything to my friends. I just kept it in. And I forgot about it while we were out having dinner and a glass of wine. But then being home alone, at 2 a.m. it surged back like an annoying fly that just doesn’t stop buzzing around your head.

Why Did I Accept His Gift?

Is it because it reflects something deeper? It’s probably not just about the tango. This must match an older emotional wound I have, otherwise it couldn’t have bothered me.

What is this wound about? It’s a wound I carry around since childhood. It’s the one of feeling small, unimportant, incompetent in front of someone who acts like an expert, therefore perceived like an authority. If I didn’t have this issue, I would have just not accepted his “gift”. His words, like the insults of the young man to the Buddha, would have flown by, without affecting me.

Since I am writing about this, it means the true gift is actually the very act of making me think about it, asking questions and searching for the truth within myself. It’s a self coaching process I go through whenever I feel something is bugging me.


I am grateful for having gone through my self coaching process because of his words “bugging me”.

Next steps I want to follow, feel free to use them if you like 🙂

1. Be more conscious and present in the situations when the wound is activated and observe my body, my feelings, my thoughts.

2. Speak up for myself when I feel like that. Acknowledge and accept my feelings and then let the other person know about it, in the most non-violent way that I know of.

PS: have you ever found yourself accepting shitty “gifts” without really knowing how to throw them away or how to recycle them?

PPS: tell me how do you handle unwanted, painful “gifts”.

2 thoughts on ““You Are So … and So …” Why Do We Sometimes Accept These Gifts?”

  1. Well, it’s very true that we tend to take opinions from people who we perceive better in some domain as being an “universal” truth. They hurt deeper and they have the ability to raise us higher. I think if everybody would take a few moments to find a kinder way of expressing their ideas I wouldn’t have just read this article. Consider what impact would that experience have had on you if he would have still ended it after one song, but if he would have said: “I would love to dance with you again, but I really think we are both a little stressed now. How about we pick up next time we meet?”. Or maybe he could have just enjoyed this stressful dance and try to make the best of it.
    What I have found though, is that when people act “weird” it’s because they feel weird, not because they are “telling” us we are weird (or we don’t belong). Maybe he felt disappointed by his skills for not being able to connect with you and he chose to get “out of there”.
    Or maybe he’s a jerk and you should just carry a brick in your purse :).
    For what it’s worth, I think you’re a marvelous dancer!


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