Dance Studio Martyr Syndrome. What it is and how to recover from it.

If you are reading this right now, you may be suffering from Dance Studio Martyr Syndrome and not even know it.

**Do you work 7 days a week in your dance studio and secretly cry at night from sheer exhaustion?

**Have you recently said "Yes" to something when all of your being was screaming "NO!"?

** Do you allow your clients to contact you on your cell phone, social media outlets and instant messenger at all hours of the day (and night)?

**Do you find yourself putting the needs of your students and clients ahead of the needs of yourself and your family?

**Do you feel guilty when you take a day off or schedule a non-dance related vacation?

If you said "Yes" to any of these questions, you may be suffering from Dance Studio Martyr Syndrome.

Yes, it is a real thing and many of us suffer from it. And I admit that I may have just made this particular term up, but I know for a fact that I have spent most of my career as a Dance Studio Owner suffering from this.

Recently, I have been getting Facebook memories showing up regarding past posts where I would proclaim to the social media world the amount of days that I just worked without a day off. The latest one that I saw was the record breaking 41 days of straight work before I collapsed somewhere on the beach for spring break. I was notorious for saying "Your money goes to every one else, the competitions, the seamstress, the teachers.....I basically work for free."

And I did. I felt an internal need to prove to others my worth through my own sacrifice. I overworked and over committed to projects so that my clients could see just how much I loved their kids. As a competition director, I would work tirelessly rehearsing the dancers so that when we won, we "deserved" it because we worked harder and longer than anyone else. I subconsciously felt better (or I should say worthy) about myself, my business and the studio success by sacrificing my personal life and needs.

I sacrificed so much of my personal self for the Dance Studio

How many times have you created your list of everything that you do as a studio owner, secretly wearing it as a badge of honor and a shield of validation for your clients saying, "See, look at all this stuff that I do for your kid."

How many times have you taken the day off but then felt guilty for not working with "Susie" (To all Susies, this is not directed towards you) on her solo? You know that she needs more work, and even though your family is wanting to spend time with you at home and you personally need the day off, you think to yourself "a couple hours at the studio won't kill me."

How many dance teachers do you know that are praised in the community for working non-stop? While you are incredibly inspired by their passion and dedication to dance, you can also see that their health is deteriorating. They are so busy taking care of everyone else, it is obvious they are not taking care of themselves.

It is a trap that we fall into because nobody has taught us how to run a heart-centered business.

A dance studio is not like any other business, nor can it be run like one.

You are an entrepreneur and your business was created from YOUR heart and YOUR passion. This is why every complaint or student leaving feels like a personal attack. There is no separation between you as a person and the love that you pour into your business and to the lives of ALL of your students.

Our business is a reflection of who we are, and most of us seek validation for our efforts. We want others to see how much we really do love and care about our students, and the easiest way to do that is by over-working; It is easy to place the needs of other people first.

Running a heart-centered business does not mean that you have to constantly sacrifice yourself as an offering to others.

It is okay to take care of yourself.

Actually, it is more than okay. It is necessary for survival!

The life of a dance studio owner pretty much revolves around their students. Every thought, action, decision is made with the dancer's benefit in mind. Sometimes, our own families have to take a back seat to the schedules of the studio and the needs of the clients. It is a tough balancing act and a cycle that most of us fall victim too.

So how do we begin to Let Go of this need to be a dance studio martyr?

1. First, you must realize that loving yourself does not take away from the love that you have for your business and your students.

By making sure that your own cup is full, you will have even more to give to others. The more time you create for self-love, the more love you will have to give. The more time you create to nurture your own creativity, the more you will become creative in your business. The more time you take to rest, the more energy you will have in your day. It is all about balance and allowing yourself to evolve so that you can continue to evolve your business.

2. Create your own self-care practice.

What can you do to make sure that you are in fact filing your own cup? Find out what nourishes your heart. This could be taking walks, meditation, vacations, gardening or just a guilt-free day off! Personally, I found that if I had a 15-minute break in between class, a quick meditation would ground me and feel so much more refreshing than taking the time to respond to an e-mail.

3. Learn how to create healthy boundaries.

Many of us as studio owners allow (and resent) our clients to contact us on our personal cell phones and social media outlets; This makes us feel like we have zero personal space. We do not want to be working 24/7, but subconsciously create avenues for us to play the "martyr" by not creating healthy boundaries. One way to begin is by creating your desired work hours and allow only one outlet for communication; You must stick with this and implement such standards for your staff too.

4. Know that when you say YES to something in your life, you are simultaneously saying No to something else.

Be mindful of both choices. Sometimes saying yes to working means that you are saying no to spending time with family, taking the time to date, or taking that much needed weekend getaway.

5. Let Go of the Guilt. Remind yourself that YOU ARE WORTHY!

You are worthy of creating a wildly successful and thriving heart-centered business. You are worthy of taking vacations, spending time with family and enjoying your life.

You are allowed to dream.

You are allowed to thrive.

You are allowed to live the life of your wildest dreams.

Namaste my friends,


(Oh...and if you need extra support, I am here to help!)


​​Julie Nguyen

Tel: 303.204.9763


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