Be Like Misty Copeland – Don’t Dream Girly Thoughts

By Patricia O’Gorman, PhD

Author of The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power (publication date 10.28.14) The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013) Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting—The Codependency Connection (2012)

Perhaps the name Misty Copeland is not a familiar to you—yet. It will be very soon. Misty is the latest prima ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre, a cause of celebration in and of itself. But that is only part of the story for this young African American woman.

As the youngest of six children raised by a single mother, Misty is a living, breathing example of not letting those girly thoughts trip you up. Girly thoughts tell you what you can and cannot do, how you should and should not look, and the punishment you can expect if you don’t listen to these implied societal directives. Misty chose to ignore those messages, especially the ones that began with You Can’t.

The fact that Misty didn’t look like your typical ballerina didn’t stop her. Truth be told, she had many things against her:

  • She is only 5’2” when the average height for a ballerina is 5’7”.
  • She isn’t Caucasian, like almost every other prima ballerinas.
  • She didn’t begin dancing until she was thirteen. Most ballerinas begin their arduous training before they even begin school.

But none of this stopped Misty from listening to her body, and her body told her to dance beautifully, gracefully, like a ballerina.

Her Key to Success
What did Misty listen to? She listened to herself, not to the limits she felt from society. Misty listened to her dreams, her senses, the love she had of her body moving in space, for leaping, spinning, and landing with grace and ease. This is what she wanted. This is what she achieved.

Misty’s drive and resilience shine through in this riveting video, which is part of the Under Armour campaign “I Will What I Want”:

What Do You Want?

If you want to give yourself permission to just feel, what is getting in the way of doing what your body say it wants to do?
How do you see your body moving? How does this feel? And if it doesn’t feel good—ask yourself why not.
What is stopping you from giving yourself this gift? Do you think you’d look ridiculous? That you’ll be judged? If so, ask yourself, “By what?”

Say “Get Lost” to Your Girly Thoughts

Tell the part of yourself that has internalized all the do’s and don’ts—the part that is the good girl you were raised to be—to get lost. Tell your girly thoughts you want to dream, and you want to make your dreams come true. Turn on your music and move. You may be surprised how truly easy it is to be you, to trust your body, to feel and follow your senses.

This is the beginning of you trusting you to take care of yourself, of you becoming more resilient.


Christmas and Perfume

If ever there was a season celebrating resilience it is the Christmas Season.  As women, this season represents a virtual treasure trove of elements around which we build our resilience, because our resilience is built around our response to stress; and this is the season of stress, both good stress and the other kind.

During this holiday time we find ourselves playing our own version of three-dimensional chess.  We are navigating our commitments to our children, creating a happy holiday season for them whether they are three and still believing in Santa Claus, or twenty-three and moving out on their own.  We feel both our love and the pull of obligations, both stated and expected, to our family.  This is compounded by needing to make the decision of who to spend the actual Christmas Eve or Christmas Day with, or whether to create the magic of the holiday within our home, figuring out how to do the cooking, shopping, decorating, and still for many of us, keep our day job.  We need our friends who tend to be less available, as we are, due to being equally stressed out, running, laughing, and at times stuttering instead of speaking.

And this is compounded by our image of what this important holiday season is supposed to contain, an image not formed by Hallmark, or by the endless ads on TV, but an image rooted far deeper in our psyche, an image formed in our own childhood, an image we revisit, one formed by needs and desires remembering them as fulfilled leaving a smile on our face, or memories of want and need that that are still full of pain.

It is this last element that makes this season so challenging, the fact that we are present to this season not just as a forty-five year old, but also as a five year old.  That we are navigating not just a list of expectations of those who we love who surround us, but also we are carrying those needs and wants from the child within us.

This is why it is so important to find a way to give to ourselves this season.  Not just an actual gift, which may not be a bad idea, but also an inner gift, one of personal perspective — a gift of gratitude, of appreciation for all the resources that we have, of respect for all that we do, and of promise, a promise to do something special just for us, whether this is taking one single moment to put on a dab of perfume that we like, to remind ourselves as we gently waft it’s aroma throughout the day, that we indeed are special, that we can take care of ourselves, to a commitment to use our considerable resources, our resilience, to begin to take better care of ourselves.  Now that would truly make this a merrier Christmas.

By Patricia O’Gorman, Ph.D.

Author of

The Resilient Woman:  Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (publication date 3/5/13)

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