Extraordinary – and often unpleasant – circumstances reveal what we’re made of. Although tango is not meant to be one of those dramatic or harrowing life experiences, learning the dance will push us to the point of testing our character.

When we’re outside our comfort zone, are we also paying attention to our attitude and mindset? Are we using encouraging words, or do we easily lose patience with ourselves? As we think, are the words we use harsh or gentle?

It’s easy to judge ourselves solely on how fast we’re able to learn a difficult figure. Getting the step right is the goal, of course. But fixating only on right vs wrong answers is a very stressful way to learn.

Although any step can be mastered with enough practice, our attitude and mindset can have a huge influence on our learning as well. We may think that being extremely self-critical, and mentally kicking ourselves in the butt, is somehow affirmation that we’re good, hard-working students.

But just as an unreasonably critical (or borderline abusive) teacher can have a detrimental effect on learning, a self-flagellating inner voice can do just as much damage.

As we take on the challenge of starting – or improving – tango dancing, it’s okay to get angry with ourselves every now when we make mistakes. But amidst all that, we need to remember that we’re on our own side, because it’s pointless to be our own worst enemies.

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