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Going Backward is Going Forward October 24, 2011

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in My Life as I See It, ontological coaching, Self-Development.

This is me walking backwards with my friend Roman. Photo taken by my friend Godwin

I have found in my 18+ years of studying that dance—especially partner dancing–is an excellent metaphor for life. So you have been duly warned—this post is about dancing (sort of) and how it relates to life. Specifically Argentine tango—my current dance love and passion.

When two people dance the tango together there is a leader and a follower. Happily, my teacher insists that we learn both parts to speed up our dance competence. However, I am primarily a follower as are most of the women I know. As a follower it is important to know how to walk backwards–and to do it well. How hard can that be you ask? Well, to do it properly can be very hard. You probably remember the comment about Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers: Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did only walking backwards and in high heels. And that’s the way it is in tango.

I spend time in my lesson each week learning how to walk backwards correctly. The leg must extend out with no hip movement. There must be no settling of the hips as one moves from side to side or to the front. The back must stay engaged in the process. Lori has an exercise called “The Magic Leg” and even though it sounds well,magical, I can assure you that the magic is sometimes hard to find. But when I’ve done three or four steps correctly I get a great feeling of accomplishment, as well as praise from Lori. Who’d have thought that walking backwards could be so demanding and yet so rewarding.

Now comes the life application bit… You may have noticed that the same type of situations keep coming up for you in your life. One of my coaching clients kept attracting men into her life that were either losers or who were not available to her in some way. (I know, this is a very unusual example) When she finally looked right in front of her to an ‘ex’ who was still on the fringes of her life, she found that going backwards was indeed a very good thing for her.

One of my friends has been the primary care-giver for her elderly mother for the past 6 years. She formerly had a very nice life and a good job in New York City. ‘Coming home’ to care for her mother could certainly look like going backwards. However, she spent much of that time asking her mother questions about her life and delving into the patterns of their family and the reasons for them. She recently said to me, “I learned more about myself and my world by sitting with an old lady in my childhood home than I could have learned by working ten years in New York City.” Hmmm, once again walking backwards may not be the problem it’s cracked up to be.

Let me qualify this by saying that if you are continually looking backwards by living in the past, blaming your upbringing for all of your problems, or refusing to  be optimistic about your future—you are probably not moving forward. That said, sometimes we just have to be patient and learn from what has been placed in front of us.

What are your current ‘backwards’ challenges–the situations that you’d rather have a root canal than deal with?  These are the situations that keep coming up for you with different players in different costumes but who are acting out the same roles. Things like the unfair boss, loser boy(or girl) friends, friends who abandon you or who just want to take rather than give—to name a few examples. We all have our own flavor of ‘issues.’

Well, maybe, just definitely, there is something that you can learn from the situation that keeps repeating itself in your life. I’ll go even further—if it keeps repeating itself you cannot go forward in that particular area until you have learned what it is about you that keeps inviting in the same circumstances.

So turn around, take a deep breath and start walking. Keep doing it till you learn something new…




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