How giving yourself grace will expand your music-making
Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings. - Kristin Neff
Why are we so hard on ourselves?
For most of us, it is a challenge to look upon ourselves with tenderness and unconditional positive regard. We are acutely aware of every deficiency, mistake, and failure. And it isn’t because we are hardwired to be critical of ourselves or have an underlying pathology that causes us to be less than kind to ourselves.
It is because we care.
We care so much about our music-making, our relationships, our bodies, our homes … We want to bring forth good things into this world. We want to make it better and brighter and more beautiful. We want to have significance, to know that we have brought something true to this world.
Being an artist is a High Calling. We believe deeply in the power of music and want to bring it forth to the best of our abilities.
As humans, we are ever failing, learning, growing, failing, learning, growing. When we’re small humans the process is so natural, so easily accepted. The toddler takes a step, falls, tries again and takes two steps, then falls, Again and again until they can gleefully walk from parent to parent for the first time.
That doesn’t ever stop. It just becomes more complex and nuanced. We’re no longer falling on the ground. Now we are feeling major disappointments or causing harm in a relationship.
But it is only through failing that we can learn and grow. It is only through practicing self compassion that we can become free from the shame loop of self-condemnation.
A Case for Self-compassion
There has been a long-held myth that the way to create great art is by being tortured for it. Like from twisted up, infectious, and toxic insides we can somehow bring forth work that is beautiful and true. That is simply not the case.
Because the act of creating is so vulnerable, it is imperative that the artist foster a rich, loving soil from which to birth their work. When you are your own safe space, you can freely share your artistic voice without inhibition or fear, thus bringing an abundance of beautiful work into this world.
It is in learning how to hold yourself in love and acceptance that you can find freedom. Creative freedom. Relational freedom. Freedom to exist in this world as your inner voice calls you.
Questions to build your self-compassion
*Adapted from the work of Kristen Neff.
Go ahead and pull out your notebook and work through the following promtps. I know, I know... It's so much easier to skim these questions and promise yourself you'll come back to them. I do it, too. But, when I take 10 minutes to process questions like this, I feel more connected to myself and better able to continue on. I think it will do the same for you.
Set your timer, work through the questions, and stop after 10 minutes. You'll be all the better for it. Promise.
1. What are two areas of your life where you are especially hard on yourself?
2. In a moment of failure or disappointment, what would you need to hear from yourself?
May I give myself the compassion I need.
May I accept myself as I am.
May I forgive myself.
May I ________________.
3. What kind of comforting touch would be the most restorative for your to give yourself?
Hand on your heart, perhaps rubbing gentle circles while feeling the rise and fall of your chest.
One hand on your cheek
Cradling your face in your hands
Gently stroking your arms
Crossing your arms and giving a gentle squeeze
One hand on your abdomen and one over heart
4. How will you catch self-criticism and replace it with either a compassionate thought or comforting touch?
You are precious and worthy, and you deserve to give yourself the same compassion you give your loved ones. Try making self-compassion a priority for the next few days and let me know how it goes. I'm always cheering for you.
Next Steps and Additional Resources
Here at The Musician's Mindset, we have some incredible resources for developing and implementing mindset practices that will transform how you perform on stage.
First, check out our Personalized Mindset Tools Quiz to discover the mindset strategies perfect for YOU!
Schedule your FREE 30 Minute Call with Katie. It’s free. It’s my pleasure. And it’s the first step to releasing stage fright once and for all.
Founder of The Musician's Mindset
Katie is dedicated to helping musicians overcome stage fright and believe in their own unique artistic voice. She believes live classical music is a powerful antidote for the division, pain, and loneliness pervasive in the culture and strives to support all artists to confidently share their work with the world. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband, three kiddos, a dog, a snake, and a goldfish named Orca.