Friday, August 1, 2014

Envy is not the Way!

On the left:  Envy and Gossip.  
On the right: Her regular self.
 I prefer her days that Envy does not visit.  
Beauty fades but friendliness and kindness can shine more and more. Some women blame aging or others for not dancing as much as they'd like to.  But outside factors probably have little or nothing to do with getting to dance more.   I see younger women sitting more than they would like, but their presentation has me wondering if they are so angry that it will take too much effort for them to relax when they "finally" get asked to dance.   Also, there are too many older woman who are dancing for age, beauty or clothing to be a valid excuse. The first thing a man or woman needs in
his/her arms is a nice person in my opinion.  And pleeease... stop with the "men are visual" excuse. Show me well-designed research that backs up that worn-out excuse! Men and women are remarkably the same, and we all need emotional connection. Pleasant, postive people are the best to be around for both sexes, and the most powerful "social magnet."

Below is an interview with a fairly new dancer, whom I will call "Miss T."  She is kind, with a sparkling smile. She always has a great mirada. We had this discussion about envy and gossip recently. In a sense the issue here is not envy, but the results of not dealing with rejection or feeling less than others. As I started my blog, I imagined writing mostly about tango music. But my world as a therapist took over my writing.  Back in 2010, I presented 8 solutions to envy/rejection, and at the bottom I will give links.  Solution 4 is a very amazing therapeutic phenomenon, but they all should help.  I wrote them mostly for myself, and they have worked wonderfully.

Please don't suggest this blog to envious people. I really do not think it will help. Envy eats at the heart, and only a critical emotional event is going to motivate change from this toxic behavior, which takes years to perfect into compulsive gossiping and unabashed envy.  My written thoughts on this cannot help change seriously maladaptive behavior.  However, what really might help is to reach a few people before they are caught by the slimy green hands of envy.  We are all susceptible of being harmed by later changes in our lives--a new partner, a new community, new people coming in, and then surprisingly, we can be deeply envious for the first time in our lives.  Consider these thoughts as inoculation from the risk of envy going viral in your veins.

Insights on how to escape the clutches of envy:

Tango Therapist (TT): Miss Tanda, what do you find in tango that keeps making you come back for more?

Miss T: It's this feeling of utter joy and harmony you can find in a good tanda. It is the possibility to forget about everything else, and just give yourself to that perfect moment in time. This utter abandonment to the embrace, to the music and the other person's body resonating with your own. The magic doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it's like you never want to wake up from this wonderful dream. Also, I love the anticipation of getting ready. I already feel happy when I prepare myself for tango, dressing-up, picking my shoes ... I just love the wonderful anticipation of the beauty of the experience.

TT: That says it pretty well for me too, except for choosing one of two pairs of shoes! :-) What do you think would stop you from returning to a milonga over time?

Miss T: I would hope to maintain myself physically, but most importantly, I would hope that I would be able to conserve this feeling of anticipation and of entering each milonga in a good mood, being happy about nice people I know whom I have met there, being curious about strangers. But I hope never ever to become envious and angry at other women who are getting more dances.

I'd rather prefer being like those ladies who keep on dancing no matter their looks and no matter their age. What I found out so far: They exude and radiate a feeling of contentment, of joy and sympathy and simply are nice people.

TT: I would agree that I enjoy dancing with NICE people of all ages. That is the most attractive thing a partner can have. Do you think this is hard to maintain?

Miss T: Being nice?  No!  But sometimes it is hard, to stay good-humored when you keep sitting for what seems an eternity. In those cases, I just tell myself, 'So perhaps tonight is not THE night and call it quits/call it a night--no harm done and knowing that tomorrow is another day and another Milonga.' So no need to fret or being angry. I too often see women, being in the scene for an eternity spending their time not with dancing much, but with gossiping and putting down other women. 'Look at what she's wearing, and how she dances.'

TT:  Give me some real examples if you can.

MT:  Okay, for example, at a very nice milonga I was sitting next to an older woman. On the dancefloor was a young girl perhaps in her early 30s, she was no model-size-zero nor a beauty queen, but she radiated a happiness while dancing I was just dumbstruck and totally wrapped up into watching her. She had a very nice green skirt with fabric rose on the top off her buttocks, which was very alluring and sexy but in no way trashy. For her top she had a matching tight top showing time and again her belly button when she moved. You could see perfectly that she had some love handles, but they did not bother her in the least. She radiated this contentment, this 'I feel pretty and witty and bright.' And I kept on thinking, 'WOW, what a girl! I'll see whether I can find her later and ask her where she got this stunning dress for success.' When suddenly--what an anticlimax--I heard my neighbour's voice rasping in my ear: "I hate those girls who show their belly button; it's undignified!" Needless to say that my "dignified" neighbour was sitting and sitting and sitting with a sour face.

TT:  Are there times that it becomes more personal, oe rimes you become the direct object of their gossip?

Miss T:  Yes, and of course, these are the worst moments, when I become their one of their objects of envy.  It doesn't happen very often, but it is very intimidating to hear accusations, such as: 'Your behavior is undignified for somebody your age'; 'you are too aggressively vying for tandas'; 'you are damaging the honour of all females.'  These bitter women end up leaving me confused and feeling guilty, not really knowing why. But luckily most of the times I end up pulling myself together, realizing what pitiful women they are and I tell myself, 'Well, if she's got a problem with me, let her keep it, it's hers entirely!'

TT: So now pretend that you are talking to your future self and you want to remind yourself of what you have may have forgotten of the wisdom of a young woman. What would you say to yourself?

Miss T: I would tell myself that perhaps I have forgotten to get better as a dancer. What I find striking about many women who sit is that instead of trying and become better dancers, losing some weight, learning how to dress for success or trying to learn from tangueras that dance a lot what they do differently, they try to crush the younger or more coveted woman, as if they just want to make them go away. I would like to remind my older self:  'Do not spend time envying others. Spend time making the most of your tango-life and never stop learning. Avoiding envy is a personal decision. So make up your mind not to do it!  It is hell!' I decided when I started dancing to be very, very grateful for all people being friendly with me in the tango scene be it male or female and just ignoring the unfriendly ones. And I never, ever started gossiping and speaking bad of other people in a milonga. Instead I observe those whom I really love to see dancing, hoping to pick up some clues, trying to remember a clever adorno or a nice dress or hairdo, and many other positive things.

TT:  Has that worked well for you?

Miss T: So far it has taken me a long way, but as I progress with my tango it seems I must always be aware of the green eye of envy.

TT: What you mentioned earlier was that there are women who dance all the time. I too wonder why the envious ones do not seem to catch all the "tricks of the trade" that these veteran women dancers have.

Miss T: Maybe because the gossipers are too busy focusing on their bad gossip and their negativity instead of seeing beauty and bliss. A very experienced tanguera once told me: 'There are a million reasons a man asks you to dance: Because you are blond, because you are not, because you wear a mini-skirt, because you don't, because you are tall, because you are small, and most of the reasons have nothing to do with you as a person. And sometimes not even with your dancing skills. So since I cannot generally change the way I am made, I just keep this in mind, try to be friendly, dress up the best I can and work hard on my dancing skills.

TT: Actually, there are obvious tricks by women of all age that have a range between subtile to assertive. I see these as true social skills. You seem to have noticed what these veteran women do.

Miss T: Or perhaps I am just a communicative and observant person!  [Laughs.] But you are right, there are the real tango ladies I look up to. They are very supportive most of the time. I know a few who probably never were very pretty, but they are very nice people. They are kind, and astoundedly, kind with other tangueras. And since they dance so well, the guys just keep queuing up to dance with them in some cases. And most of all, they know about how to network.

TT: I remember my first encounter with a tanguera like this. She fits your description well. She was so kind with me. She was the only one who came over and said how delightful it was that I was new in town. I have had very moving, wonderful tandas with her that I will never forget.

Thanks for sharing these insights from a woman's perspective. I somehow stay pretty naive to all these sorts of things that go on behind the scenes.

Some Resources:
As promised: The links below will bring you to the 8 solutions for envy/rejection. "Solutions 7&8" have a link to all the series of articles. However, because Solution 4 is so revolutionary and helpful, I will give that link separately.
Coming soon:  Tango Etiquette from a spiritual perspective, using the Eight Limbs of Yoga.  The concept that deals with jealousy is called "aperigraha" is the concept of not being attached or possessive of objects or relationships.  Envy is Jealousy's twin.  Imagine that:  Tango as the Wooden Path to Enlightenment.  :-)   Envy is not the Way.

Photo Credit for those who want more Halloween makeup ideas. :-)


  1. The surge of oxytocin resulting from embrace and rhythmic motion and positive emotions results in a lasting memory of tango bliss, of trust and connection. But the longer-term physiological effects of oxytocin have also been shown to include heightened envy and gloating. These negative effects may be modulated by individual sensitivities and predispositions which may be fully or partially out of psychological control

  2. MOCKBA: Before dancers start wondering about their predestined, hormone-poisoned bodies leading them to envy and gloating, let's think this through with a large amount distrust of the diagnosis-happy profession that has "discovered" the oxytocin link to envy and gloating. The researcher in the article you quote, Dr. Kemp from Australia, has some interesting points; however, I reject his medical model, which will certainly help open up new clinics to treat newly invented disorders. What will we have next: Clinics for loving fathers and mothers who cry when their children leave home or at their children's weddings? Perhaps somatic psychology would say that mothers and fathers who hug their children a lot and really love them will produce from their brain (hypothalamus)lots of oxytocin, and THEREFORE they are at risk for envy and gloating! Sure, loving parents one day must deal the risk of not being willing to let their children bond to new people when their children grow up. Yet, emotionally mature parents WANT their children to bond to their future wives/husbands, and are able to let go without "gloating." Blaming a high level of hormones is evidence of an infant science (somatic psychology) being naïve about what wise people have long known about gain and loss (jealousy) or longing (envy). It is really quite naïve for somatic psychologists to attempt to make every positive thing an "addiction" in our lives. Every arm-chair psychologist makes tango an addiction; but is the joy of tango or the joy of holding your child an addiction? Once "treated" will we stop dancing or holding our children? :-) The medical model is a way of making money for "treatment" of all sorts of human concerns of loss. Once upon a time envy/jealousy/gloating was "treated" by wisdom, philosophy or spiritual counsel. But wise people and philosphers and spiritual advisers cannot get paid because they do not have "patients." Please be leery of "discoveries" of hormons being in our bodies. We used to call them "warm fuzzies." Dr. Kemp could have easily used "warm fuzzies" for "oxytocin" and we would have better understood that he's talking about stuff we have all long known. The full article can be seen at:


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