Tango With Your Despair

photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC
photo courtesy of Konstantin, Flickr, CC


Not your favorite emotion. Not how you want to spend your day. Not helpful when your cranky teenager wants the car keys. Not the most uplifting part of your memoir.

But here it is. Dancing the tango. Dragging you around the dance floor. It’s got you in its arms; holding you close. Singing its mournful melodies. You’re vulnerable, barely breathing. Dressed in black. Mesmerized by despair’s mystique. You want to escape the embrace. But there’s something about this tango. This dance partner. Impossible to resist.

Like every good tango dancer knows, the connection is everything. You must tune into your partner’s beating heart. Become one body with four legs. Unity is the goal. Reaching it is just a little joyful. Maybe a lot joyful.

Joy? Despair? What?

Stay with me on this.

Imagine that you can tango with your despair. Rather than push it away or pretend that it doesn’t exist, dance it. Embrace it. Listen to its song. Cry. Rant. Write. Make art. Feel its power in your body as you stride around the dance floor. As your feet connect with the earth beneath the floor. Tango with your despair.

Imagine that in the heart of despair, you’ll find your Self. As you become One with despair, you expand, you deepen, you open to possibilities. If you soften into it, rather than resist it, your dance will improve. You’ll find a way through. Perhaps a creative direction will appear. Maybe your intuition will speak. You might notice a burden lift.

Maybe you’ll even feel a little joyful.

“ Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine act of insurrection. ” ~ Rebecca Solnit


To my bloggEEs: Sensitive rainforest-minded humans need a little joy right about now. (By the way, this process can work with other painful emotions. Here’s a resource for more ideas.) Thank you for being here and for your compassionate sharing.

Oh, and I’m working on some restructuring of this blog/website. So don’t be surprised if you see some changes soon-ish. It’ll still be me, sending you my love notes.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

11 responses to “Tango With Your Despair”

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  1. When Crying Is The Right Answer — High Sensitivity, Despair, Overwhelm, And Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] days you notice the guilt you feel for your despair when your life is full of privilege and you have a great job, can afford to pay your bills, and can […]

  2. Gabi Avatar

    Perfect! I wonder if I can translate this into six year old speak. My gifted child was in some despair over having to do Math every day! Ugh. We don’t do it every day but to her maybe it feels like it. We took a break and did some yoga stretches and I was telling her to shake her body and loosen it up. Maybe the Tango would have been better. Next time we’ll take a dance break. I did get her to giggle a little because I started singing the chorus to Taylor Swift’s, “Shake it off” while we were releasing our tension and wiggling like “wet noodles”. But Yes, Despair and Anger and maybe even some Rage. My solution has been to only watch the news for a limited time in the morning with plenty of time to release the emotions, otherwise the evening news keep me awake and anxious. Evening is for time for making and creating art, giving me a peaceful mind for sleep.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Actually, Gabi, shaking is a great way to release tension. Shaking, wiggling and singing. Perfect for kids and adults!

  3. telperion1214 Avatar

    Similar to yoga nidra, where pairs of opposites are held in one body at the same time. A healing and beneficial practice.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I have heard a little bit about yoga nidra. Do you have suggestions on how readers might find out more about it? Thanks for writing, telperion1214.

  4. Richard Avatar

    Beautifully written, and timely Paula. The dance of the working-class that speaks to passion. Well done!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Richard.

  5. Christy Harvey Avatar
    Christy Harvey

    I’m appreciating the deliciousness of the assertion that “Joy is a fine act of insurrection.” Indeed – your call to move and soften into the dance instead of trying in vain to holding yourself apart is the best kind of wisdom.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes, I loved that quote from Rebecca Solnit. Thanks for commenting, Christy. Good to hear from you. I know you could write the post “Belly Dance with your Despair!!”

  6. Omid prv Avatar
    Omid prv

    I love when you teach an important life lesson with a beautiful and meaningful analogy

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Omid! 🙂

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