Your Own Worst Critique

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Are you hardest on yourself, judging everything you do as good or bad? How’s that working for you? HA! That is the question I always ask to a behavior – because our behaviors are just habits we have leaned or created. So if something is NOT working for us, not serving us well then we can choose to learn and create a new behavior that does work! 

The first step to change is awareness, so we first have to become aware when we are doing the behavior we wish to change. In the moment we can then choose a different course of action.

The Voice in your Head – is it a judge or a encouraging friend? What do you say to yourself when you are practicing or performing?

When you make a “mistake” do you say Oh, Sh*t! or “Sorry, that’s wrong”, etc  When you do something you feel good about what do you say? Take a moment and write down things you say to yourself. Take notice next time you practice.

When you feel you’ve done a good job – how long does that feeling last? ….. until you mess up? about 30 seconds? And when you make an error and think you’ve done badly how long does that feeling last? MUCH LONGER!  When you judge your practice or performance it creates beliefs.  For example “I messed up and sang out of tune on a note” can very quickly lead to the belief “I have a pitch problem”, even “I think I’m tone deaf”, when really, all that happened is your sang a few notes inaccurately and the issue is probably due to the mechanics – the way you’re saying the vowel, the position of your larynx etc. All correctable with some technique.

When we JUDGE ourselves with good or bad all we do is harm ourselves. When we examine what happened mechanically, we empower ourselves to adjust, change and improve!!!

So, let’s turn your judge into your best encouraging, supportive teacher. In fact, your judge is your teacher in disguise. We just haven’t learned how to talk to ourselves very nicely or productively yet.

Three ways we can react to the voice in our head:

1. Ignore it – which makes it a bigger problem because it will go from a whisper to a yell until you listen to it

2. Have a conversation with it – “That was off pitch!” to which you respond in your mind “I know, I’ve been practicing but never get that note right. Man, I’m always out of tune. Gosh, they heard that, I suck”… and so on and so forth

3. Listen to it and take action!

#1 and #2 are not productive, in fact they are counter productive. Not only do they not work, they make the work worse.

So let’s practice #3:

Listen and Take Action

When you say to yourself, “that feels tight” look to your technique and make an adjustment. What does tight mean? You need more airflow or more energy (because you’re holding back). You have a habit of pushing and you feel it “Oh, I’m just yelling” – what’s the adjustment? You need less air, to be lighter… so on and so forth.

By listening to yourself you will be making constant adjustments, navigating your instrument more skillfully, present while you’re working. The result of that is more fun, you are present, “in the song”, mastering your skills = confidence. Turning your judge into your helpful voice is empowering. And over time and with practice, I bet your voice will speak more kindly, in fact the judgements will turn into directions. Instead of “that’s tight” it will be “easy, release more air” and then it will become unconscious and second nature to make these adjustments without any thoughts or directions.

Have fun becoming your own greatest teacher and share with me! Tweet @wendyparr and share what your judge says to you. And after practice, tweet what your thoughts have turned to! Let’s help everyone become a better friend to themselves. (And I’ll tell you a secret – your judge says some of the same things someone else’s judge says.) When we share our judgements, they can no longer shame us. Sharing is empowering.  Can’t wait to hear from you!