When 2019 started, I was thinking about New Years resolutions-I don’t do resolutions per se, but I do like to reflect on things I’d like to change or accomplish for the coming year. The thought that kept popping into my head was “I need to stop being so mean to myself!” I realized that I was in this cycle of negative self talk, and was saying things to myself (in my own head of course, I don’t talk to myself out loud……that often anyways) that I would NEVER say to another person. Things that were downright mean! Like many dancers, I’ve struggled with body image over the years, and since we spend hours at a time in a room where one wall is entirely mirrors (most people’s worst nightmare), I realized that every time I saw my reflection I was tearing myself apart. Thinking things about myself that I would NEVER think about someone else. If a lesson plan or choreography didn’t work out the way I wanted, that little voice inside myself told me I’m not a very good teacher. When laundry doesn’t get put away, or the dishes pile up in the sink, that voice tells me I’m a disaster and can’t keep a house clean. So when I was thinking about 2019, I decided that one of the things I needed to change was the way I talk to myself.
Fast forward to last week when I started reading The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. I got to a chapter titled “Release the Brakes”, and I couldn’t believe how much it resonated with me. I thought it was really interesting, and I wanted to share it with all of you. This diagram caught my eye:
It’s essentially saying that when we trap ourselves in a loop of negative self talk that affects not only how we think, but also how we behave! I started thinking about my younger days (wow does that make me sound old) performing and about the ABDC students who competed last weekend. I’m sure I’m not the only dancer who’s ever watched someone else dance and thought “oh man, I’ll never be as good as she is”. Can you see how that fits into the diagram above? My self image changes, which affects my performance, and there goes that voice in my head again! “See?” it says. “I told you so!” And dancers are known for being hard on themselves, and there are so many scales on which to compare ourselves. My kicks aren’t as high as hers, I can’t turn as many times as he can, he can jump higher than me, she remembers choreography much easier than I do. Is your head spinning yet???
As I read this chapter, I started thinking about how I can change this cycle in my own head, and also help my students too! The first way it discusses to change this endless loop is with affirmations. This is an “I am” statement that you repeat to yourself. “I am feeling confident and capable” you might say. Is your goal to ace your history test? “I am feeling awesome having gotten an A on my history test.” Want to work on your fear of public speaking? “I am feeling confident presenting my paper in front of the class.” Feel weird to say out loud? I’m with you! Like I said before, I realized that most of the time the voice inside my head wasn’t being very nice, so these affirmations sound weird, but they are proven to work!
So in all my classes in the coming weeks, I’m going to be utilizing this idea of affirmations, and changing the way we talk to ourselves. Goodness knows there’s enough negativity in the world without it creeping into our subconscious! I see in all my student such wonderful qualities and talents, and I think they should not only see those things in themselves, but also TELL themselves about them!
Do you use affirmations? Do you feel yourself ever getting into the self-talk loop, and what strategies do you have for getting out of it? I’d love to know!