“You know those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should probably go do them!”
A surefire way to cut the noise in your head, or at least change it up, is to pursue your dreams and express yourself creatively.
In Korea, a fun night out is when a group of friends goes to a singing room. People that don’t go (or won’t go) say, “Oh, I’m a terrible singer.” And, “You must be a good singer.”
People that regularly go and enjoy it, know that it has nothing to do with singing skill. The acoustics are generally awful: deafeningly loud with extreme reverb or other unhelpful effects. The microphones sometimes work well, and other times barely at all. And still, it doesn’t matter. When I go, we choose rooms where there’s no alcohol. Just a big book of songs, and we’re set.
Enjoying two hours in a singing room is about being together. Singing is just an excuse to be together in a way that often feels deeper, and more authentic than other group activities. Singing together requires people to be courageous, to sing songs they’ve never tried before, or admit they like songs that others might think are corny or off-the-wall.
Are you a good dancer?
Can you sing? Can you dance? Are you a good singer? Are you a good dancer?
I’d never really thought about the underlying message of these questions. If you’re good enough, then yes, go ahead and do it. But if not, it’s better to skip it.
I forgot that I loved to dance for a couple decades. When the focus is on a level of skill, an offer to sing or dance is usually declined. Most people say no and explain, “I’m pretty awkward on the dance floor.” “I’m a terrible dancer.” “I only sing in the shower.” “I’m too shy.”
Pride urges you to not try things you’re not really good at. But, that doesn’t really make sense, does it? How can you get good at something if you don’t try it? And don’t you have to start as an unskilled beginner in anything new?
At age 46, I took up African dancing. Doing so, opened up a new world to me and I made new friends and learned new ways of thinking and being.
My Ghanaian teacher often repeated, “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.” Doing so, he taught us that in the Ghanaian view, singing and dancing are natural. If you have a body and a voice, acknowledge it. Use them. Move. Sing. Share.
A Ghanaian singing teacher, urges students who are learning traditional African songs, “Fake it!” He says if you don’t know the words or the melody yet, who cares! Sing now. Sing loudly. You’ll figure out the words and melody quickest as you sing.
And one night, out with friends in Ghana, they noticed the dance floor was empty. “Oh, good. Go, now, on the dance floor. We’ll video you!”, they told me.
Why would I ever want to do that, I wondered aloud. They looked at me incredulous that they would have to explain such a basic concept, “Because! You have to express yourself!” Uh, okay. So I did.
Two Year-Olds can Sing and Dance Until…
Every child starts out singing and dancing. They can sing and dance, until they learn not to.
Go with that innate spontaneity. It can help you reconnect with that naturally joyful state, before your perfectionist critic gets a word in edgewise.
Expressing yourself creatively is more about Being, less about Doing!
Having a Creative Path Strengthens Relationships
Why is it that some couples thrive over time, and others go stale or break up? Gay Hendricks suggests that partners that each have a creative path improves the likelihood of a healthy relationship.
Expressing yourself can be anything from writing poetry, sculpting or painting, to doing woodworking, learning dance or joining a hiking club. Finding your own creative path provides you the calm refuge from the storm, a place you can go and feel the divine coursing through you. You’ve got to express yourself!
“I want to sing
like the birds sing,
about who hears
or what they think.”
Shift From Ego to Divine
If you think a creative expression is all from you and due only to your skill, your shoulders are going to hurt!
If you’ve ever written, painted or created music, you know that you are a channel. You are an open faucet, letting the divine flow through. If you close the faucet, nothing is going to happen.
- Who do you admire for the way they express themselves? Do some people criticize their work? Does it stop them?
- In what ways do you hesitate to express yourself? Are you shy about a certain aspect of your life? e.g. Do your work friends know you like to write poetry?
- Is there something you loved to do as a kid, but you no longer do? Art, singing, dancing, playing? Is there a way to reconnect to any of that in a way that fits you now? Start big by enrolling in a class. Or start small. Find music you can dance to at home, or doodle when waiting for a meeting.
- Make a goal that within two months you will share some form of personal expression. Sound a little scary? Good!
- Read about the life of a favorite author, musician or artist. Are there parts of their paths that parallel yours?
- Keep checking in on your inner peace status to inform your decisions. If you really feel like singing or dancing, but hear a lot of chatter from an internal critic, just listen and chuckle. Come up with a gentle step like, “I’ll try it once and see how it goes.”
The God Who Only Knows Four Words
Has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come dance with Me.”