Getting trapped in negativity? Try this practice.

An Actor Kneeling at the Edge of a Spotlight in the Shaddows

Do you find yourself trapped in negative thinking and patterns of self-sabotage?

Imagine this scenario … 

You are in an audition. You are really nervous. You haven’t had as much time to prepare as you wanted and you really want this job. 

You’ve greeted the artistic team. The reader gives you the first line and you respond.

You are in it, sort of! There is the weird voice that is commenting on everything you do.

I wasn’t ready. Shit! I didn’t set up the environment. Oh no, you just screwed up. That wasn’t the line. You’ve blown it now.

Yikes! Not only are you not present in the scene, you are saying some really unkind stuff to yourself. Let’s check back in …

Your audition has gone from bad to worse, you’ve lost track of your action and your lines, and the voice in your head has continued to get louder. As you finish you can barely hear a word the casting team says. You are convinced it’s over and practically run out the door.

Where does this voice even come from?

I’ve always been incredibly serious. About everything. Even my creative endeavors!!

I started taking dance classes at the age of 6. It wasn’t long before one of my most important priorities became getting it right, at all costs.

The right choreography, the right time, and the right line.

AKA Perfectionism. 

There is always feedback. At the beginning that feedback usually comes from outside of ourselves. That is how we learn!! 

But the way we receive that information can become warped and cripple us rather than manifest as the help it was intended to be.

My dance teachers feedback echoed in my head:  “Relax your shoulders. Straighten your knees. Softer. Prettier.”  

It then transformed.

I was terrified of not being able to take the note, of not being able to change or grow, and somehow got the idea that the goal of life was to not need feedback. I needed to get quicker and faster at taking notes and even better, figure out how to anticipate what notes I would receive before they ever happened.

If someone gave me feedback, there must be something wrong with me. It must be a sign that I’m not good enough.  

I would do my best to avoid feedback at all costs and to seek praise like my life depended on it.

This meant that I internalized those voices. I became very vigilant about checking myself out in the mirror to see how my alignment might be amiss. Constantly repeating those pieces of feedback that I felt I needed to master, over and over. I was not kind to myself because I thought by being hard on myself I would get where I needed to go.

Instead, I was actually suffocating myself. The need for external praise became even more important.

You don’t need to figure out why.

I have spent a lot of time wondering why I’m so hard on myself. Did someone teach me this?

But you know what, the why actually doesn’t matter! I might never know the root cause of this pattern.

What I can do is cultivate a new relationship with myself. And feedback. 

And so can you!

Try this:
  1. Notice when your critical voice arises. What are you saying? What are you doing?
  2. Hear what your critical voice says in these moments and write their words down. These are thoughts and beliefs that are keeping you stuck and preventing you from growing. 
  3. Rewrite these thoughts and beliefs from a place of love. You can also come up with a list of things that you can genuinely praise yourself about right now.
  4. Say these new positive thoughts out loud. Speak them in a way that you really believe them. Feel free to add a big act of self love (like wrapping your arms around yourself) while you speak.
  5. Repeat.

Over time, you’ll discover which thoughts are frequent visitors, and while you practice showering yourself with more love and appreciation, notice how your critical voice calms down and allows you more freedom.

Share your experience.

Tell me in the comments below what the experience of doing this exercise was like for you. What did you notice or discover about your own pattern around negativity and perfectionism?


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