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Get a Grip on Your Mind

Posted by fiddlerdi on Monday, December 10, 2007

Here is an important thing to consider, how often does "wrong thinking" get in the way of your fiddle playing? It can happen in a lot of different ways. It can be very subtle. It can appear as self-doubting and self battering, or disguised as objective thinking, designed to mask anxiety, fear, and doubt. It can talk you right out of practice time, performance opportunities, or cause performance anxiety.  Have you ever taken time to notice how many times a day you have re-occuring negative thoughts about yourself? Try keeping track for a few hours. The first step is awareness. How many times during a practice session do these types of negative thoughts enter your mind? Thoughts like, "I'll never be able to do this" or "I'm just wasting my time on this" or "I really should be doing (fill in the blank) instead of messing around with this fiddle".  These kinds of thoughts interfere with playing and/or induce anxiety and self-doubt. So, what can you do to help yourself when these thoughts come calling? The first thing you do is become aware of what kinds of thoughts don't serve your purpose. The above are some examples but they come in many forms. The next step is to dispute those self-sabotaging thougts. You say - silently or outloud - "No, I don't buy that!"  Third, you substitute a new, useful thought. Here's how the process might sound: "I might finally sound good on this thing if I live to be 100 years old",  No, I'm just an impatient adult that wants instant gratification. I sound better than I did a month ago, the fun is in the journey, not the end result.  or "I would be better if I could just find more time to practice" No, I don't "find" time. It's not left laying around somewhere like a lost shoe. Time has to be scheduled not found. If I would schedule myself practice time I would get better, faster. You get the idea. It's usually the "thought" behind the "thought" that's the issue. You can learn to be more honest with yourself. You can learn how to talk yourself out of not playing. Our self-statements are usually dodges, games, excuses, and defensive maneuvers and it takes practice and courage to see them for what they are. Most of our thoughts have either an obvious or hidden self-referential component. That is, most of them are, at least in part, about us. Try monitoring this "stream of consciousess" for self-defeating thoughts that tend to discourage or distract you in your fiddle playing. I use a technique called "thought-stopping" in which I consciously terminate such thoughts as I become aware of them. Then I use a short, positive, affirmation thought  to aim myself in a different direction. This really helps me stay more focused on anything that I want to do. A few of my affirmations are, "I am strong and healthy, I have everything I need, Stay focused, Do the Process, I am fine, and so forth. Create a few of your own so that you can memorize them and have them available when a self-defeating thought intrudes. The goal is to acquire the right mind-set, out of which right thinking flows. Honor perserverence, the realities of the creative process, ignore criticism, come back from rejection.  "Getting a grip on your mind" means two complementary but different things: eliminating wrong thinking and championing right thinking.

Exerpts on this essay were taken from the book "Coaching the Artist Within" by Eric Maisel. I am currently working on becoming a creatiivity coach for all types of people. Hope you found this interesting.



2 comments on “Get a Grip on Your Mind”

SlowPockets Says:
Tuesday, December 11, 2007 @12:37:08 PM

Great Post! This can apply to so many areas in life as well as fiddling. I guess the hard part is getting to a point where you can recognize the difference between self-defeating thoughts and honest critical thinking. I'm glad I read this today.

FiddleJammer Says:
Thursday, December 13, 2007 @7:51:27 AM

Diane, Excellent post! So much advice/rules/guidelines/ettiquette/etc. is written in a tone that is 'superior'. We're conditioned to react as though we're untalented nincompoops as beginners. That's why I think adult learners are particularly keen to lose that sort of baggage and make real progress learning to fiddle. On a related note ...